'Lanky' was the name given to an Aboriginal man during the inquest which was held in 1852 after his body was found in Dowling Forest, in the Ballarat area. The man was about 30 years old, five foot seven inches tall, with long black hair and long narrow whiskers.
The cause of his death is mysterious. A deposition by Sergeant John Simpson of the gold mounted police swears that there were no signs of violence on Lanky's body. He concludes that Lanky must have died from exhaustion and exposure, and notes that somebody matching Lanky's description was seen wandering on the station 10 to 12 days before, in a state of delirium tremens.
Despite this sole deposition and its confident assessment of the cause of Lanky's death, the cover page of the inquest reflects the uncertainty and confusion about this death. The phrases 'Natural causes' and 'Cause unknown' were written on the page, then crossed out, to be replaced by the words 'Found dead'. More handwriting on the front page says 'Supposed to have died from exhaustion'.
To add to the intrigue, the index to this series (VPRS 24, held by Public Record Office Victoria) records Lanky's cause of death as 'Murder'.
The records in this inquest deposition file clearly do not contain the whole story about the death of Lanky in 1852.
VPRS 24 Inquest Deposition Files
Created: 14 September 2006, Last modified: 23 January 2007