Warrianha (Alfred Ryan)Print Page Print this page

Photographs supplied by Roger Johnson

The plaque erected at gravesite commemorates the service provided by police trackers and Aboriginal Police Tracker Warrianha.

Alfred Ryan, popularly known as either “Alf” or “Tracker” was born at Lyndhurst in South Australia’s far north in 1889.  He first joined the South Australian Police Force on May 20th, 1912 and, whilst so employed, served in many police stations around the state with his longest stints being at Adelaide and Mount Gambier.

 Tracker Ryan was highly praised by all who had the honour to work alongside him.  His natural ability to follow tracks, which were indiscernible to the white man, was not impaired as a result of his long association with white society.  He was, in fact, regarded as a better police tracker than the best of the tribal aboriginals, because he had made a deep study of the work and the evidence given by him in many important court cases showed that he had reduced tracking to a fine art.  Yet he also had the ability to present his testimony with such clear definition and confidence that the defence, rarely, if ever, caused him to falter in any way.  Justices of the Supreme Court complimented him on several occasions for the professional manner in which his evidence was given.


Address:Riddoch Highway, Cemetery, Penola, 5277
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -37.384722
Long: 140.839444
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Plaque
Monument Theme:People


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Wednesday 28th April, 2004
Front Inscription

Police Heritage Plaque

This plaque honours the valuable and dedicated service provided to the South Australia Police and the community of South Australia by early police trackers - as epitomised by police tracker Warrianha - ( Alfred [ Alf ] Ryan ).

Police realised the value of Aboriginal peoples`unique tracking skills, and employed them as police trackers in most country police stations from the 1800`s almost up to the mid 1930`s, to bring wrongdoers to justice, and find those lost in the bush.

Throughout South Australia, the names and exploits of many legendary police trackers such as Peter Aringa, Scoundrel Bob, Tiger, Andy, Pony Mick, Lanky Kana, Jimmy, Fred Cooper, Mick McLean, Fred Johnson, Tommy Ridge, Alec Riley and the famous Jimmy James, are well known, however, no list of trackers would be complete without Police Tracker Warrianha, also known by his European name of Alfred [ Alf ] Ryan.

Born at Lyndhurst in South Australia`s far north in 1889, he joined the South Australia Police Force on 20 May 1912, and served in many police stations around the State; with the longest postings being at Adelaide and Mount Gambier.  He was highly praised by all who had the honour to work alongside him and was regarded as one of the best police trackers of his time.

Justices of the Supreme Court complimented him on several occasions for the professional manner in which evidence was given, highlighting that he had developed tracking to a fine art.  Although he left the police service in October 1929, he still assisted police in his later years when requested.  He spent the later part of his life in Penola and passed away 1966.  He is buried in Penola's new cemetery.  A friend wrote in tribute that "Tracker was a very good person.  His talent for tracking has helped many people over the years to find answers to their problems whatever they were.  One thing is certain - Tracker Ryan is up there keeping track of all people, black and white."

This plaque was jointly unveiled on Police Foundation Day, 28 April 2004 by

Mr Malcolm A. Hyde OAM          Mr Don Ferguson
Commissioner of Police              Mayor, Wattle Range Council



Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au