Buckley's return to European life
In 1835, William Buckley met John Batman and his party at Indented Head. He had been living with the Wathaurung Aboriginal community for 32 years, but left them to join the settlers. There are several different accounts of this event. William Todd's journal records that Buckley:
[had never] seen a White Man, & has only seen two vessels since he has been here. He is quite rejoiced to see his own native people Once More – Never having expected to meet with any [again].
– William Todd
Todd, W 1835, Journal: 1835 June 8–1835 November 15, Manuscript collection, State Library of Victoria, MS 11243
Todd's journal is one of the key sources that proves John Batman wasn't at Indented Head when Buckley appeared to William Todd and Batman's men.
However, George Langhorne's account of Buckley's life claims that the Batman and his party weren't the first Europeans Buckley had met in Port Phillip, and Buckley wasn't necessarily happy to see them:
During [After] 30 years residence among the natives I had become so reconciled to my singular lot – that although opportunities offered, and I sometimes thought of going with the Europeans I had heard were in Western Port, I never could make up my mind to leave the party to whom I had become attached...
– William Buckley
Buckley, W 1837, Reminiscenses of James Buckley, Manuscripts collection, State Library of Victoria, MS13483.
There are also various explanations as to why Buckley left the Wathaurung. Todd's journal suggests that it was because Buckley saw there was a threat to the settlers and he couldn't watch them be ambushed by the Aboriginals.
Whatever his real reason, Buckley left with the settlers and worked in Melbourne as a labourer, building Batman's house on the hill where Southern Cross Station is today. He also became an interpreter and mediator between Europeans and Indigenous people.
He often faced prejudice from other settlers however, and he felt that both Aboriginals and Europeans suspected him of conspiring with the other:
... when I reflected on the suspicion with which I was viewed by the most influential white men, and on the probable doubt the natives would entertain in my sincerity after having left them, I thought it best to retire to Van Diemen's Land.
– William Buckley
Morgan, J 1852, The life and adventures of William Buckley, Archibald MacDougall, Hobart, Tas.
One of the key events leading to Buckley leaving Melbourne was the disappearance of his friend Joseph Tice Gellibrand. When Buckley tried to search for Gellibrand, he found his horse injured. The public judged Buckley harshly for his apparent disinterest in finding his friend and his relationship with local indigenous communities.
Buckley left the colony after only two years, arriving in Hobart Town in early 1838. He married widow Julia Eagers in 1840, and lived a relatively quiet life until his death in 1856.