State Library of South Australia

Toponymy and the Dudley Tiger

If you visit Kangaroo Island's Dudley Peninsula, you may come away thinking you've been to 'Tiger' Peninsula. On Dudley there's Tiger's Cairn or Tiger's Knob, Tiger's Tooth at Cape Hart, and Tiger's Hill. They are all named for (or by) Stamford Walles 'Tiger' Simpson, sometimes known as 'Anzac'. Simpson's Aboriginal grandmother Betty was probably brought to Kangaroo Island by sealers at around 1819 - they were pre-settlement South Australians. Some local history has it that Stamford's nickname referred to his temper, but surely also it was for this Tasmanian connection - Stamford could threaten to "get me Tassie up!" when roused. A customer interested in Aboriginal people at Gallipoli asked if we had a photo of Stamford in his uniform.

Tiger Simpson in uniform Penneshaw c1915 Penneshaw Maritime and Folk Museum
Tiger Simpson in uniform Penneshaw c1915, Penneshaw Maritime and Folk Museum

Stamford went away to war twice, in 1914 to the Dardanelles and Anzac Cove (he was 37) and two years later to France. As a two-timer, he was enthusiastic about war service, referring to those who stayed behind as "cold-footed", but he claimed to have "never fired a shot in anger". He was known as a skilled musician, particularly for musical saw, a reputation he took with him to war. 'Wacka' Daw of Kingscote told Tiger's nephew that when they were at the front together, Tiger made a banjo out of biscuit tins, using communication wire for strings. If a string broke he'd call out "No bloody wire, Daw" and Wacka "had to go out in no man's land and get more wire".

Toponyms are place names. Stamford Simpson will be remembered on Dudley Peninsula because he was particularly interested in them. Felt Hat Corner, on the East-West Highway, is where Tiger found a hat and nailed it to a post. Today there is a sign, where there is always (magically) a felt hat. He named a corner on Charing Cross Road: Stomache Ache Corner, after the tree there that was restricted by wire. Some of his road names still appear on official maps. He named the tracks he used to cross the Peninsula, eg. 'Anzac Highway', 'Gawler Place'. Tiger laboured up until his death in the late 1950s, and whenever he did work in concrete, he signed it 'Tiger'. Locals are aware of this, and to this day the name can appear anywhere there is wet cement on Dudley Peninsula.

We didn't have a photo of Tiger in uniform for the customer, but we found a fine one held by the Penneshaw Maritime and Folk Museum. What we do hold is a fine group portrait (B 50494). Centre right is Stamford Simpson. For this article we relied heavily on Taylor, Rebe Unearthed : the Aboriginal Tasmanians of Kangaroo Island, Kent Town, Wakefield Press, 2002.

B 50494

Story by: Richard Moriarty

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