“Hello everyone my name is Isabel Coe I am from the Wiradjuri tribe, one of the biggest tribes in New South Wales. While I have got a chance, I would ask that people stand for one minute in silence, for the Eora and Gadigal people that we have lost in the defence of our country” ~ Aunty Isabel Coe, Redfern 1998
Lest We Forget▪ 1816 Appin massacre, New South Wales: After some earlier raids on settlers which had resulted in deaths, on April 17, around 1 AM soldiers arrived at a camp of Dharawal people at Appin. Fourteen dead bodies were counted in different directions.” How many more who might have died when they plunged over the precipice will never be known.▪ 1824 Bathurst massacre, New South Wales: Following the killing of seven Europeans by Aboriginal people around Bathurst, New South Wales, and a battle between three stockmen and a warband over stolen cattle which left 16 Aborigines dead.
▪ 1828, 10 February – Cape Grim massacre, Cape Grim, Tasmania. Four shepherds ambushed and killed 30 Pennemukeer Aboriginal people.
▪ 1833-34 Convincing Ground massacre of Gunditjmara: On the shore near Portland, Victoria was one of the largest recorded massacres in Victoria. Whalers and the local Kilcarer clan of the Gunditjmara people disputed rights to a beached whale carcass. Reports vary with from 60 to 200 Aborigines killed, including women and children. An 1842 report on the incident notes that the Gunditjmara people believed that only two members of the Kilcarer clan survived.
▪ 1834: Battle of Pinjarra, Western Australia: Official records state 14 Aboriginal people killed, but other accounts put the figure much higher, at 25 or more.
▪ 1836: August, Lieutenant Bunbury after killings in the York area, tracked one wounded Aboriginal man into the bush and shot him through the head. Bunbury also recorded the names of another 11 Aboriginal men he killed during this period. Settlers to the district collected ears of Aboriginal men slain.
▪ 1838 26 January Waterloo Creek massacre, also known as the Slaughterhouse Creek or Australia Day massacre. A Sydney mounted police detachment, despatched by the Lieutenant Governor of New South Wales Colonel Kenneth Snodgrass, attacked an encampment of Kamilaroi people at a place called Waterloo Creek in remote bushland. official reports spoke of between 8 and 50 killed. The missionary Lancelot Threkeld set the number at 120 as part of his campaign to garner support for his Mission. Threkeld also claimed Major James Nunn later boasted they had killed from two to three hundred natives, a statement at odds with his own claim, and both not based on any direct evidence but endorsed by historian Roger Milliss. Other estimates range from 40 to 70, but judge that most of the Kamilaroi were wiped out; as the band involved was only part of the tribe, this is hard to reconcile.
▪ 1838 11 April, by the Broken River at Benalla. A party of some 18 men, in the employ of George and William Faithful, were searching out new land to the south of Wangaratta for their livestock. According to Judith Bassett, some 20 Aborigines attacked, according to one recent account possibly as a reprisal for the killing of several Aboriginal people at Ovens earlier by the same stockmen and at least one Koori and eight Europeans died. It was long known locally as the Faithfull Massacre though Chris Clark argues that ‘there is no reason to view this incident as anything other than a battle which the Aborigines won’. Local reprisals ensued resulting in the deaths of up to 100 Aboriginal people. It also seems they were camping on a ground reserved for hunting or ceremonies.
▪ 1838 Myall Creek massacre – 10 June: 28 people killed at Myall Creek near Inverell, New South Wales. This was the first Aboriginal massacre for which European settlers were successfully prosecuted. Several colonists had previously been found not guilty by juries despite the weight of evidence and one colonist found guilty had been pardoned when his case was referred to Britain for sentencing. Eleven men were charged with murder but were initially acquitted by a jury. On the orders of the Governor, a new trial was held using the same evidence and seven of the eleven men were found guilty of the murder of one Aboriginal child and hanged. In his book, Blood on the Wattle, journalist Bruce Elder says that the successful prosecutions resulted in pacts of silence becoming a common practice to avoid sufficient evidence becoming available for future prosecutions. Another effect, as one contemporary Sydney newspaper reported, was that poisoning Aboriginal people became more common as “a safer practice”. Many massacres were to go unpunished due to these practices, as what is variously called a ‘conspiracy’ or ‘pact’ or ‘code’ of silence fell over the killings of Aboriginal people.
▪ Mid-1838. Gwydir River. A war of extirpation, according to local magistrate Edmund Denny Day, was waged all along the Gwydir River in mid-1838. ‘Aborigines in the district were repeatedly pursued by parties of mounted and armed stockmen, assembled for the purpose, and that great numbers of them had been killed at various spots’.
▪ 1838 In July 1838 men from the Bowman, Ebden and Yaldwyn stations in search of stolen sheep shot and killed 14 Aboriginal people at a campsite near the confluence of the Murrumbidgee and Murray Rivers in New South Wales.
▪ May–June 1839 Campaspe Plains massacre, Campaspe Creek, Central Victoria, killing Daung Wurrung and Dja Dja Wurrung people. In May 1839, Daung Wurrung killed two shepherds in reprisal for the murder of three Daung the previous month. An armed party of settlers led by station owner Charles Hutton killed up to 40 Daung at a campsite near Campaspe Creek. The following month, Hutton led an armed party of police who killed six Dja Dja Wurrung at another camp. All six had been shot in the back while fleeing. The Assistant Protector of Aborigines for the region, described the massacre as “a deliberately planned illegal reprisal.”
▪ Mid 1839 The Murdering Gully massacre near Camperdown, Victoria was carried out by Frederick Taylor and others in retaliation for some sheep being killed on his station by two unidentified Aborigines. The Tarnbeere Gundidj clan of the Djargurd Wurrung people, around 35-40 people, was wiped out. Public censure led to Taylor’s River being renamed Mount Emu Creek and, fearing prosecution for the massacre, in late 1839 or early 1840 Taylor fled to India. Of particular note for this massacre is the extent of oral history, first hand accounts of the incident, the detail in settler diaries, records of Weslayan missionaries, and Aboriginal Protectorate records.
▪ 1830s—1840s Wiradjuri Wars: Clashes between European settlers and Wiradjuri were very violent, particularly around the Murrumbidgee. The loss of fishing grounds and significant sites and the killing of Aboriginal people was retaliated through attacks with spears on cattle and stockmen. In the 1850s there were still corroborees around Mudgee but there were fewer clashes. Known ceremony continued at the Murrumbidgee into the 1890s. European settlement had taken hold and the Aboriginal population was in temporary decline.
▪ 1840-50 – the Gippsland massacres in which 250-1000 Indigenous Australians were indiscriminately killed.
▪ 1840 8 March. The Whyte brothers massacred, according to various estimates, from 20 to 51 Jardwadjali men, women, and children on the Konongwootong run near Hamilton. Aboriginal tradition puts the death toll as high as 80.
▪ 27 August. The Rufus River massacre, various estimates – between 16-50.
▪ There was an extensive massacre at Lake Minimup in Western Australia, lead by Captain John Molloy who “gave special instructions that no woman or child should be killed, but that no mercy should be offered the men. A strong and final lesson must be taught the blacks. … The white men had no mercy. The black men were killed by dozens, and their corpses lined the route of march of the avengers.”s:Page:History of West Australia.djvu/150
▪ Settlers poisoned 50 Aboriginal people to death in the Brisbane valley in 1842
▪ On the outskirts of Kilcoy Station owned by MacKenzie, 30-60 people of the Kabi Kabi died from eating flour laced with strychnine or arsenic.
▪ 1842 Evans Head massacre – the 1842 massacre of 100 Bundjalung Nation tribes-people at Evans Head by Europeans, was variously said to have been in retaliation for the killing of ‘a few sheep’, or the killing of ‘five European men’ from the 1842 ‘Pelican Creek tragedy’. It is also referred to as the ‘Goanna Headland massacre’.
▪ 1843 Warrigal Creek massacre, amounting to 100-150 Aboriginal people.
▪ 1846 George Smythe’s surveying party shot in cold blood from 7 to 9 Aboriginal people, all but one women and children, at Cape Otway.
▪ 1849 By 1849 clashes between Aboriginal people and settlers occurred on the Balonne and Condamine Rivers of Queensland.
▪ 1849 Massacre of Muruwari people at Hospital Creek in retribution for a suspected killing of a white stockman.
▪ 1849 Massacre of Aboriginal people at Butchers Tree near Brewarrina, along the Barwon River, and on the Narran River.
▪ 1849 Avenue Range Station Massacre (Mount Gambier region of South Australia) – at least 9 indigenous Buandig Wattatonga clan people allegedly murdered by the station owner James Brown who was subsequently charged with the crime. The case was dropped by the Crown for lack of (European) witnesses. Christina Smith’s source from the Wattatonga tribe refers to 11 people killed in this incident by two white men.
▪ 1857 Massacre of the Yeeman. In the early hours of the 27 October 1857, members of the Yeeman tribe attacked the Fraser’s Hornet Bank Station in the Dawson River Basin in Queensland (the Hornet Bank massacre) killing 11 people in retaliation for the deaths of 12 members shot for spearing some cattle and the deaths of an unknown number of Yeeman nine months earlier who had been given strychnine laced Christmas puddings by the Fraser family. Following the deaths of his parents and siblings, William Fraser, who had been away on business, began a campaign of extermination that eventually saw the extinction of the Yeeman tribe and language group. Fraser is credited with killing more than 100 members of the tribe with many more killed by sympathetic squatters and policemen. Many of the killings were carried out in public such as the killing of two Yeeman charged with the Fraser murders whom Fraser shot in the courthouse as they were leaving following verdicts of not guilty, the alleged killing of two Aboriginal people in the main street of Rockhampton and the killing of a strapper at a Toowoomba race meeting. By March 1858 up to 300 Yeeman had been killed. Public and police sympathy for Fraser was so high that he was never arrested for any of the killings and gained a reputation as a folk hero throughout Queensland.
▪ 1861 Central Highlands of Queensland. Between October and November 1861, police and settlers killed an estimated 170 Aboriginal people in what was then known as the Medway Ranges following the killing of the Wills family.
▪ 1865 The La Grange expedition in Western Australia was a search expedition carried out in the vicinity of La Grange Bay in the Kimberley region of Western Australia led by Maitland Brown that led to the death of up to 20 Aboriginal people. The expedition has been celebrated with the Explorers’ Monument in Fremantle, Western Australia.
▪ 1867 Goulbolba Hill Massacre, Central Queensland: large massacre in early 1867 involving men, women and children. This was the result of settlers pushing Aboriginal people out of their hunting grounds and the Aboriginal people being forced to hunt livestock for food. A party of Native Police, under Frederick Wheeler, who had a reputation for violent repressions, was sent to “disperse” this group of Aboriginal people, who were ‘resisting the invasion’. He had also mustered up a force of 100 local whites. Alerted of Wheeler’s presence by a native stockman, the district’s Aboriginal people holed up in caves on Goulbolba hill. According to eyewitness testimony taken down from a local white in 1899, that day some 300 Aboriginal people, including all the women and children, were shot dead or killed by being herded into the nearby lake for drowning.
▪ 1868 Flying Foam Massacre, Dampier Archipelago, Western Australia. Following the killing of two police and two settlers by local Yaburara people, two parties of settlers from the Roebourne area, led by prominent pastoralists Alexander McRae and John Withnell, killed an unknown number of Yaburara. Estimates of the number of dead range from 20 to 150.
▪ 1873 Battle Camp Massacre, Far North Queensland: The event took place during the first rush of miners travelling from the Endeavour River to the Palmer river in about November or December 1873. In an article in the Queenslander’s Sketcher in December 1875, one digger recalled the Palmer rush two years earlier. One morning he and his party had, he told: …passed ‘Battle camp’ … It was here the blacks of the interior first re-ceived their ‘baptism of fire;’ where they first became acquainted with the death-dealing properties of the mysterious weapon of the white man;…Here and there a skull, bleached to the whiteness of snow, with a round bullet-hole to show the cause of its present location…
▪ 1874 Barrow Creek Massacre, Northern Territory: In February Mounted Constable Samuel Gason arrived at Barrow Creek and a police station was opened. Eight days later a group of Kaytetye men attacked the station, either in retaliation for treatment of Kaytetye women, the closing off of their only water source, or both. Two white men were killed and one wounded. Samuel Gason mounted a large police hunt against the Kaytetye resulting in the killing of many Aboriginal men, women and children – some say up to 90. Skull Creek, where the massacre took place, 50 miles south of Barrow Creek, takes its name from the bleached bones found there long after.
▪ 1874-75 Blackfellow’s Creek Massacre, Far North Queensland. ‘A letter from a miner dated “Upper Palmer River April 16, 1876″, describes his camp at a place known locally as ‘Blackfellows creek.’ He explained, leaving very little doubt as to its appearance, that; “…To my enquiry as to why it was so named, the answer is that not long since “the niggers got a dressing there” – whatever that may mean; possibly a bright coloured shirt apiece, for decency’s sake. There have been, certainly, “dressings” of another sort dealt out in this part of the country to the blacks,….Be that as it may, however, the Golgotha on which we are at present camped would well repay a visit from any number of phrenological students in search of a skull, or of anatomical professors in want of a ‘subject.’”
▪ 1879 Cape Bedford, Far North Queensland: Cape Bedford massacre on 20 February 1879 – taking the lives of 28 Aborigines of the Guugu-Yimidhirr tribe north of Cooktown – Cooktown based Native Police Sub-inspector Stanhope O’Connor with his troopers, Barney, Jack, Corporal Hero, Johnny and Jimmy hunted down, subsequently ‘hemmed in’ a group of Guugu-Yimidhirr Aborigines in ‘a narrow gorge’, north of Cooktown on, ‘of which both outlets were secured by the troopers. There were twenty-eight men and thirteen gins thus enclosed, of whom none of the former escaped. Twenty-four were shot down on the beach, and four swam out to the sea’ never to be seen again. This was just one of numerous similar episode, most of which will remain uncounted for, on the Far North Queensland mining frontier during the 1870s.
▪ 1880s-90s Arnhem Land, Northern Territory: Series of skirmishes and “wars” between Yolngu and whites. Several massacres at Florida Station. Richard Trudgen  also writes of several massacres in this area, including an incident where Yolngu were fed poisoned horsemeat after they killed and ate some cattle (under their law, it was their land and they had an inalienable right to eat animals on their land). Many people died as a result of that incident. Trudgen also talks of a massacre ten years later after some Yolngu took a small amount of barbed wire from a huge roll to build fishing spears. Men, women and children were chased by mounted police and men from the Eastern and African Cold Storage Company and shot.
▪ 1884 Battle Mountain: 200 Kalkadoon people killed near Mount Isa, Queensland after a Chinese shepherd had been murdered.
▪ 1887 Halls Creek Western Australia. Mary Durack suggests there was a conspiracy of silence about the massacres of Djara, Konejandi and Walmadjari peoples about attacks on Aboriginal people by white gold-miners, Aboriginal reprisals and consequent massacres at this time. John Durack was speared, which led to a local massacre in the Kimberley.
▪ 1890 Speewah Massacre, Far North Queensland: Early settler, John Atherton, took revenge on the Djabugay by sending in native troopers to avenge the killing of a bullock. Other unconfirmed reports of similar atrocities occurred locally.
▪ 1890-1920 Kimberley region, Western Australia – The Killing Times – East Kimberleys: About half of the Kimberley Aboriginal people massacred as a result of a number of reprisals for cattle spearing, and payback killings of European settlers.
▪ Kimberley region – The Killing Times – 1890-1920: The massacres listed below have been depicted in modern Australian Aboriginal art from the Warmun/Turkey Creek community who were members of the tribes affected. Oral history of the massacres were passed down and artists such as the late Rover Thomas have depicted the massacres.
▪ 1906-7 Canning Stock Route: an unrecorded number of Aboriginal men and women were raped and massacred when Mardu people were captured and tortured to serve as ‘guides’ and reveal the sources of water in the area.
▪ 1924 Bedford Downs massacre: a group of Gija and Worla men were tried in Wyndham for spearing a milking cow on the Bedford Downs station. 1926 Forrest River massacre in the East Kimberleys: in May 1926, The Rev. Ernest Gribble of Forrest River Mission (later Oombulgurri) alleged that 30 people had been killed by the police party and a Royal Commission, after sending out an evidence-gathering party, found that 11 people had been massacred and the bodies burned.
▪ 1928 Coniston massacre: A WW1 veteran shot 32 Aboriginal people at Coniston in the Northern Territory after a white dingo trapper and station owner were attacked by Aboriginal people.