Dolly Dalrymple was born in 1808. She was seen by Lieutenant Jeffreys in 1820, and described as "remarkably handsome, of a light colour, with rosy cheeks, large black eyes, the whites of which were tinged with blue, and long, well formed eyelashes, with teeth uncommonly white, and the limbs admirably formed." She was then living with a lady and gentleman in Launceston who had undertaken her education and care.
Her mother, Bong, a genuine Tasmanian beauty, had been attracted to the side of a young sailor of the Straits. He is said to have been of respectable connections at home but of a "wild and volatile disposition". Dolly was not her only child, and it is in relation to another that she experienced a remarkable adventure. As may be conjectured, the men of the tribe were angry with the whites who had stolen their gins, but especially indignant against those of the female members who preferred the society of the opposite colour. Several instances are recorded of murders on this account.
The known attachment of Bong to the father of her children marked her out as an especial object of their jealous rage.
One evening, the sealers party having been to Launceston for the sale of skins and the purchase of supplies, and Bong to revisit her eldest child, the boat had been anchored about ten miles from town, and Bong took a stroll in the bush with an infant at her breast. Unfortunately, she was seen and tracked by a bloodthirsty company of Aborigines. The child, the mark of her tribal crime, was dragged from her, and pitched remorselessly into a native fire. The mother, in a fury of parental feeling, tore herself from her murderous countrymen, rushed to the fire, extricated her darling from the flames, and darted off into the obscurity of the forest for safety. Loud were the yells of the pursuers, and eager the search for thier victim. Aware of her inability to outrun the men, she very adroitly sought the covert of a dense shade, and lay down breathless with fear and anxiety. Unable to find her track in the dark, the fellows gradually returned growling to the camp fire, and after threats of revenge disposed themselves to sleep. The watchfull mother keenly marked their reclining, and hastened to renew her flight, arriving at Launceston by the morning dawn. Her little one died in a few days from the burning.
It may be remarked, before leaving poor Bong, that, when the Conciliatory Mission was formed, she attached herself to the party, and proved of valuable service. Her vengeance for the loss of her baby was found in her labour of love for the redemption of her race from their forest miseries. Instead of recognising the claims of family, when the Black WAr was over, Mr. Robinson harshly ordered her to be sent to Flinders Island, with the other Blacks, instead of permitting her to live with Dolly Dalrymple or with another daughter whom she had in Launceston.