As a result of recommendations from the New South Wales Legislative Council Select Committee appointed in June 1849 to assess the success or failure of the Aboriginal Protectorate system in Port Phillip, the protectorate was dismantled in late 1849. The abolition of the Protectorate heralded a decade of laissez faire policy and neglect of Aboriginal people in Victoria. William Thomas, the assistant protector responsible for the Melbourne or Western Port Protectorate District, was retained and given the title of 'Guardian of Aborigines', but he concentrated on Aboriginal people living or visiting Melbourne.
Perhaps one of the most under-valued contributions Aboriginal people made in colonial times was guiding people and stock across the river systems of Australia. Dr Fred Cahir of the University of Ballarat draws on archival records, mainly from south-eastern Australia, to demonstrate how Aboriginal canoes and ferrying expertise regularly aided explorers and settlers.