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Logic (1855–1903)

by Robert Foster

This entry is from the Australian Dictionary of Biography

Logic (c.1855-1903), stockman and tracker, whose Aboriginal name was Pinba, was probably a Dieri man, born in the far north-east of South Australia. By the mid-1870s he was working as a stockman on stations in the Lake Eyre basin and across the border in Queensland. While riding the boundaries of Tinga Tingana station on the Strzelecki Creek in March 1878, Logic and his partner, a European stockman named Cornelius Mulhall, began to argue. As the dispute escalated, Mulhall stockwhipped Logic and shot him in the back, whereupon he stabbed Mulhall to death.

Logic escaped arrest by fleeing across the Stoney Desert to the Diamantina River region in Queensland. Later he returned to Strzelecki Creek and in October 1880 was recognized and arrested. Next February in the Supreme Court, Adelaide, Logic was tried for murder. Despite supportive character evidence from a number of European pastoral workers, he was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to fourteen years hard labour. Prison records described him as 5 ft 5 ins (165 cm) tall and stocky, weighing 11 st. 7 lb. (73 kg), married with two children. As one of his upper teeth was missing, he had probably gone through the early stages of initiation. He was a model inmate of Yatala Labour Prison, with no breaches of discipline recorded against him. In October 1885 a petition seeking a remission of his sentence was being prepared for Governor Sir William Robinson. But Logic pre-empted the decision. On the evening of 15 October, while working in the prison quarry, he and another prisoner set explosive charges in the rock-face. Once the job was complete, his companion ran back to the work-gang but Logic used the confusion of the blast to escape.

As he made his way north, back to his country, local farmers helped him, providing food and water, boots, a butcher's knife, and a blanket. Settlers 'gave bread, meat and tea cheerfully, and tobacco is not grudged either'. It was even reported that he was given a brown, tweed suit. Logic's case became a cause célèbre, with letters of support daily appearing in the press and editorials suggesting that the chase be given up. On 10 December he was recaptured with the aid of Aboriginal trackers near Parachilna in the southern Flinders Ranges. Support for his cause grew. As he was transported to Adelaide by train, crowds gathered at stations en route to glimpse him. Letters to the press continued to call for his release and petitions were organized asking the governor to exercise his prerogative of mercy.

The extraordinary campaign succeeded. Just before Christmas 1885 by order of the governor, advised by the Downer government, Logic was released. He was put on a train to Port Augusta and sent on to Beltana, completing his trek home to Tinga Tingana station on foot. He remained in the Innamincka area and occasionally worked as a tracker for the police. Logic died on 23 December 1903 at Innamincka. The Adelaide Observer published a short obituary under the heading 'Death of a Notorious Blackfellow'.

Select Bibliography

  • R. Foster, ‘Logic’s Unexpected Celebrity’, in J. Simpson and L. Hercus (eds), History in Portraits (Canb, 1998)
  • Observer (Adelaide), 9 Jan 1904, ‘Country supplement’, p 1, 16 Jan 1904, p 25.

Citation details

Robert Foster, 'Logic (1855–1903)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://ia.anu.edu.au/biography/logic-13051/text22013, accessed 15 December 2017.

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2012