James and Susan Woods and their two young daughters, Anne Jane aged two years and Margaret, seven months old, arrived in the 'Colony of Port Phillip' on the 27th of June, 1840 and first settled at "Warrion Hills", nineteen miles north of Colac.

Their home was a bush hut with no windows, the only light coming from the doorway.

It was early in July, 1840 when baby Margaret was lying in a box on the bed that Mrs. Woods, working at the fireplace at the end of the hut, noticed that the place was becoming darker.

On turning around she saw that a number of aborigines were at the door. She calmly crossed from the fire and picking up Margaret from her bed, deliberately and without panic, proceeded and quietly pushed her way through the aborigines to her child, Anne Jane, who was playing outside the hut.

Just as she emerged, a tall bold aborigine seized the child in his arms and carried her off into the rocky hills. Mrs. Woods, holding her baby, ran to a horse tied up nearby and called to her husband, James, who had not long gone with the gun to shoot pigeons for the larder.

Hearing his wife's frantic cries, he grabbed the halter from her and sprang on the horse, bare back and galloped after the black kidnapper in hot pursuit. He quickly gained on the black who when he found he was being overtaken thrust the little girl amongst the rocks.

When James found her she was bleeding profusely from the nose and he feared that she would bleed to death, but she was otherwise unhurt and quickly recovered from the ordeal.

It had been un-necessary for him to fire on the 'black man' as the gun would not have been loaded and loading the muzzle loader was rather a prolonged procedure.

Taken from: "Extracts From Reminiscences of Margaret Hodgson (nee Woods)" [recorded] at the age of 98 years and 8 months in 1938.

Contributed by Alexander Matthew ( PPPG Member No: 603 )

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