List of massacres of Indigenous Australians

This is a list of massacres of Aboriginal Australians. For discussion of the historical arguments around these conflicts see the articles on the History Wars and the Black armband view of history, plus the section on impact of European settlement in the article on Indigenous Australians.

A massacre is also referred to as a mass murder. It means the act of killing a large number indiscriminately and cruelly.


* The Black War refers to a period of intermittent conflict between the British colonists and Aborigines in Van Diemen's Land (now Tasmania) in the early years of the 1800s. The conflict has been described as a genocide resulting in the elimination of the full-blood Tasmanian Aboriginal population,Fact|date=August 2008 though there are presently many thousands of individuals with degrees of Tasmanian Aboriginal background. The culmination of this period was the forcible removal of the survivors, in the 1830s, to Flinders Island in Bass Strait.Fact|date=August 2008 The specially built settlement was not suitable, with terrible living conditions and many died from disease introduced by Europeans.Fact|date=August 2008 Later they were moved to a settlement at Oyster Cove south of Hobart. Some of the descendants of the Tasmanian Aborigines still live on Flinders Island and nearby Cape Barren Island.


* 1824 Bathurst massacre: Following the killing of seven Europeans by Aboriginal people around Bathurst, New South Wales, martial law was declared and many Aboriginal people were killed. [ [ National Museum of Australia] ] [ [ National Trust account of the 1824 Bathurst war] ]


* 1830 Fremantle, Western Australia,: The first official 'punishment raid' on Aboriginal people in Western Australia, led by Captain Irwin took place in May 1830. A detachment of soldiers led by Irwin attacked an Aboriginal encampment north of Fremantle in the belief that it contained men who had 'broken into and plundered the house of a man called Paton' and killed some poultry. Paton had called together a number of settlers who, armed with muskets, set after the Aborigines and came upon them not far from the home. 'The tall savage who appeared the Chief showed unequivocal gestures of defiance and contempt' and was accordingly shot. Irwin stated, "This daring and hostile conduct of the natives induced me to seize the opportunity to make them sensible to our superiority, by showing how severely we could retaliate their aggression." In actions that followed over the next few days, more Aborigines were killed and wounded. [ [ Study guide to "My Place" by Sally Morgan] ] [Tom Stannage, (1979), The People of Perth: a social history of Western Australia’s Capital City, p. 27]

* 1833-34 Convincing Ground massacre (Gunditjmara): On the shore near Portland, Victoria was one of the largest recorded massacres in Victoria. Whalers and the local Kilcarer Gunditjmara people disputed rights to a beached whale carcass. [cite web | url = | title = Convincing Ground | accessdate = 2007-05-18 | author = Clark, Ian D. | authorlink = | coauthors = | date = | year = 1998
month = | format = | work = Scars in the Landscape: A Register of Massacre Sites in Western Victoria, 1883 - 1859 | publisher = Museum Victoria | pages = | language = | archiveurl = | archivedate = | quote = ... and the whalers having used their guns beat them off and hence called the spot the Convincing Ground.

* 1834: Battle of Pinjarra, Western Australia: Official records state 14 Aboriginal people killed, but other accounts put the figure much higher. [ [ Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission 'Bringing Them Home' website] ] [ [ Fairfax Walkabout Australian travel guide on the Pinjarra] ]

* 1838 Myall Creek massacre - 10th June: 28 people killed at Myall Creek near Inverell, New South Wales. This was the first Aboriginal massacre for which European settlers were tried. Eleven men were charged with murder but acquitted. A new trial was held and there were seven men charged with the murder of one Aboriginal child. They were found guilty and hanged.

* 1838 Waterloo Creek massacre: A Sydney mounted police detachment attacked an encampment of Kamilaroi people at a place called Waterloo Creek in remote bushland. [ [ Australian Broadcasting Corporation Frontier Education history website] ]

* 1838 Benalla (Benalta run - musk duck): Grantville Stapylton named the river 'Broken'. In April of that year a party of some 18 men, in the employ of George Faithful and William Faithfull, were searching out new land to the south of Wangaratta. Then, in the vicinity of, or possibly on, the present townsite of Benalla, it is alleged that a large number of Aborigines attacked the party's camp. At least one Koori and somewhere between eight and thirteen Europeans died in what became known as the Faithfull Massacre. Local reprisals lasted a number of years, resulting in the deaths of up to 100 Aborigines. The reason for the attack is unclear although some sources claim that the men took shots at local Aborigines and generally provoked them. It also seems they were camping on a hunting ground

:This "hunting ground" would have been a ceremonial ground probably called a 'Kangaroo ground'. Hunting grounds were all over so not something that would instigate an attack. The colonial government decided to "open up" the lands south of Yass after the Faithful Massacre and bring them under British rule. This was as much to try and protect the Aboriginal people from reprisals as to open up new lands for the colonists. The Aboriginal people were (supposedly) protected under British law.

*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.


*1840-1850 Gippsland massacres of the Gunai people in East Gippsland, Victoria, Australia in response to their resistance to European settlement on their land. The real death toll is unclear as few records exist or were made at the time. From available evidence (letters and diaries), it appears: [ Gardner, P.D. (2001), "Gippsland massacres: the destruction of the Kurnai tribes, 1800-1860". Ngarak Press, Ensay, Victoria ISBN 1-875254-31-5]
**1840 - Nuntin- unknown number killed by Angus McMillan's men
**1840 - Boney Point - "Angus McMillan and his men took a heavy toll of Aboriginal lives"
**1841 - Butchers Creek - 30-35 shot by Angus McMillan's men
**1841 - Maffra - unknown number shot by Angus McMillan's men
**1842 - Skull Creek - unknown number killed
**1842 - Bruthen Creek - "hundreds killed"
**1843 - Warrigal Creek - between 60 and 180 shot by Angus McMillan and his men
**1844 - Maffra - unknown number killed
**1846 - South Gippsland - 14 killed
**1846 - Snowy River - 8 killed by Captain Dana and the Aboriginal Police
**1846-47 - Central Gippsland - 50 or more shot by armed party hunting for a white woman supposedly held by Aborigines; no such woman was ever found.
**1850 - East Gippsland - 15-20 killed
**1850 - Murrindal - 16 poisoned

* 1841 Wonnerup Massacre: George Layman was speared by a Wardandi (from Wardan = Ocean) man, Gaywer, at Wonnerup House, Capel, Western Australia when he refused to release an Aboriginal woman held at the house. This led to the Wonnerup Massacre where white settlers rode abreast through the tuart forest killing over 250 people on their tribal land. The dead are reputed to be buried at Ludlow Forest, currently being mined for mineral sands by Cable Sands. [ [ Indigenous history at Save the Tuarts] ]

* 1841 Rufus River Massacre - August: 35 Maraura people killed in a two-day conflict with a number of police and volunteers from Adelaide after sheep and cattle were stolen and several months of violent tension.

* 1842 Deen Maar - Eumerella Wars took place over 20 years in the mid-1800s. The remains of people involved in the conflict are at Deen Maar.

* 1846 (or 1843) Richmond River massacre - January: 100 people killed at Richmond River, New South Wales.

* 1846 Blanket Bay, Cape Otway, Victoria - July: Rape and killing of numerous local Katabanut (king parrot) people during an expedition of Native Police dispatched by Captain Foster Fyans.


* 1865 The La Grange expedition 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.

* 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. [ [ Timelines ] ]

* 1874 Barrow Creek Massacre - February (NT): 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. [ [ CLC | Publications - The Land is Always Alive] Retrieved 2007-05-03.] Skull Creek takes its name from the bleached bones found there long after. [ [ A summary of the Barrow Creek conflict as told in An End to Silence] Peter Taylor. Retrieved 2007-05-03.]

*1876 Goulbolba Hill Massacre, Central Queensland: large massacre involving men, women and children. This was the result of settlers pushing Aboriginal people out of their hunting grounds and the Aboriginals being forced to hunt livestock for food. A party of Native Police was sent to "disperse" this group of Aboriginals. This lead to the deaths of over 200 Aboriginal people including all the women and children.

* 1880s-90s Arnhem Land: 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 Aborigines 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, Qld: 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. [ [ Indigenous Community in Kuranda] Retrieved 2007-05-03.]

* 1890-1920 Kimberley region - 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 after being 'run down' by men on horseback, restrained by heavy chains 24 hours a day, and tied to trees at night. In retaliation for this treatment, plus the party's interference with traditional wells, and the theft of cultural artefacts, Aborigines destroyed some of Canning's wells, and stole from and occasionally killed white travellers. A Royal Commission in 1908, exonerated Canning, after an appearance by Kimberley Explorer and Lord Mayor of Perth, Alexander Forrest claimed that all explorers had acted in such a fashion. [ [ Remote Area Tours - History] ]

* 1915 Mistake Creek: Seven Kija people were alleged to have been killed by men under the control of a Constable Rhatigan, at Mistake Creek, East Kimberley. The massacre is supposed to be in reprisal for allegedly killing Rhatigan's cow, however the cow is claimed to have been found alive after the massacre had already taken place. Rhatigan was arrested for wilful murder apparently due to the fact that the killers were riding horses which belonged to him, but the charges were dropped, for lack of evidence that he was personally involved. [cite news | author=Deane, William | url= | title=Decrying the memories of Mistake Creek is yet further injustice | work= Opinion | publisher= Sydney Morning Herald | date= 2002-11-27 | accessdate= 2006-06-17] The historian Keith Windschuttle disputes the version put forward by former Governor-General of Australia, William Deane, in November 2002. Windschuttle found the massacre took place on March 30, 1915, not in the 1930s, and was not a reprisal attack by whites over a cow, but "an internal feud between Aboriginal station hands" over a woman. "No Europeans were responsible. There was no dispute over a stolen cow, and it had nothing to do with theories about terra nullius or of Aborigines being subhuman." [cite news | author=Devine, Miranda | url= | title= Truce, and truth, in history wars | work= Opinion | publisher= Sydney Morning Herald | date= 2006-04-20 | accessdate=2006-06-17] . However, members of the Gija tribe, from the Warmun (Turkey Creek) community have depicted the massacre in their artworks (see [ Warmun Art] ).


The strong, local indigenous oral history surrounding the massacres around the Kimberley region have been depicted in paintings by [ Warmun] artists such as the late Rover Thomas and his wife, Queenie McKenzie. Rover Thomas' paintings of the Bedford Downs (1985) and Mistake Creek (1990) massacres are part of his series on the "Killing Times", [ [ Rover Thomas: I want to paint, National Gallery of Victoria] ] [ [ Rover Thomas Education Kit: I want to paint, Art Gallery of NSW] ] while Queenie McKenzie depicted another massacre at the Texas Downs Station (1996). [ [ Massacre and the Rover Thomas Story, Texas Downs Country, Museum Victoria] ] Thomas' painting of a massacre at Ruby Plains Station (1985) sold for AU$316,000 at a Sotheby's auction in November 2007. [ [,25197,22820742-5013571,00.html Perkin, Corrie (2007) $316,000 for Rover's massacre, The Australian, November 26] ] A list of indigenous artists who have depicted Kimberley massacres can be found on the Warmun website. [ [ Warmun Centre Artists] ]

* 1924 Bedford Downs massacre: a group of Kija or Gija men were jailed for spearing a bullock. On release from jail they had to walk the 200 kilometres back to Bedford Downs, where they were set to work to cut the wood that was later used to burn their bodies. Once the work was finished they were fed Strychnine, and the bodies were burned. [ [ ABC 7:30 report] ] This massacre has been depicted in artworks by members of the Gija tribe. It has been questioned whether this alleged massacre actually occurred or if it is merely a myth or local legend with no foundation in fact. An article published by Rod Moran (a Western Australian journalist) argues that there is no evidence for such a massacre and that it is much more likely to be an invention. [ [ Was There a Massacre at Bedford Downs?] Rod Moran, Quadrant Magazine. Retrieved 2007-05-03.]

* 1926 Forrest River massacre in the East Kimberleys: in May 1926, Fred Hay, a pastoralist, was speared and killed by an Aboriginal man, Lumbia. A police patrol led by Constables James St Jack and Denis Regan left Wyndham on June 1, to hunt for the killer, and in the first week of July, Lumbia, the accused man, was brought into Wyndham. In the months that followed rumours circulated of a massacre by the police party. The Rev. Ernest Gribble of Forrest River Mission (later Oombulgurri) alleged that 30 people had been killed by the police party. A Royal Commission, conducted by G. T. Wood sent an evidence-gathering party and heard evidence regarding Gribble's allegations. The Royal Commission found that 11 people had been massacred and the bodies burned. In May 1927, St Jack and Regan were charged with the murder of Boondung, one of the 11. However, at a preliminary hearing, Magistrate Kidson found there was insufficient evidence to proceed to trial. Subsequent attacks on the credibility of Gribble led to his departure from the region. In 1999, journalist Rod Moran, published a book "Massacre Myth" which claimed that the massacre was a fabrication by Gribble although this has been contested. [ [ Green, N., (2003), Ahab Wailing in the Wilderness, "Quadrant Magazine", 47:6] and in response [ Moran, R., (2003), Grasping at the Straws of “Evidence”, "Quadrant Magazine", 47:11] ]

* 1928 Coniston massacre: A WW1 veteran shot 32 Aborigines at Coniston in the Northern Territory after a white dingo trapper and station owner were attacked by Aborigines. A survivor of the massacre, Billy Stockman Tjapaltjarri, later became part of the first generation of Papunya painting men. Billy Stockman was saved by his mother who put him in a coolamon [see 'The Tjulkurra': Billy Stockman Tjapaltjarri, ISBN 1-876622-37-7] A court of inquiry said the European action was ‘justified'. [ [ Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission 'Bringing Them Home' website] ] [ [ Australian Broadcasting Corporation Frontier Education history website] ]

After 1930

* 1932-34 Caledon Bay crisis: In 1932, two white men, and a policeman were killed by Yolngu people in retaliation for rapes. A punitive expedition from Darwin was proposed, just as had happened at the Coniston massacre four years earlier, but this was averted, and the matter was settled in the courts. This event is marked as a significant turning point in the history of the treatment of Aboriginal people.

ee also

*Gippsland massacres
*Cullin-La-Ringo massacre
*Skull Creek


External links

* [ History Wars Special] in the Sydney Morning Herald
* [ Who plays Stalin in our History Wars?] Stuart Macintyre

Reynolds property, Allynbrook NSW. Date not known.stated in the 1960s to have been "in living memory".

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