Colonial Frontier Massacres in Eastern Australia 1788-1872

The University of Newcastle has a fantastic new site showing colonial massacres on the frontier in Eastern Australia. You can access it at

The map shows the approximate location of massacres of both indigenous people and settlers in the eastern states. As the creators explain in the introduction, their criteria for a massacre is six people.  Why six? To lose six people (or 20%) from a  ‘hearth’ group of twenty people renders that group vulnerable to further attack and diminishes their ability to hunt for food, reproduce and carry out their ceremonial obligations. The data is drawn from a range of sources including newspapers, parliamentary reports, the memoirs and correspondence of settlers, missionaries and Protectors, and oral and visual Aboriginal accounts.  The reliability of the source is rated with a star system.

The site makes quite clear that it is a work in progress, and subject to change through ongoing research.  Fascinating, and sobering.

5 responses to “Colonial Frontier Massacres in Eastern Australia 1788-1872

  1. This is going to be a fantastic resource – many thanks for pointing it out.

  2. It is becoming increasingly clear that claims that Aborigines died out due to introduced diseases like measles enabled us to obscure from ourselves just how many were murdered during so called dispersals by police and settlers.

  3. @wadholloway: Bruce Pascoe, in his excellent book Convincing Ground, talks about this and notes that many people must believe in magic, given how often the words ‘dispersed’ and ‘vanished’ and ‘disappeared’ are used in relation to Aboriginal people.
    @Resident Judge: also very interesting (and positive) to see that these maps are being discussed in the mainstream press.

    • Sorry to colonize your space RJ. I’ve updated the information page “Aboriginal Australia” on my blog with the map and accompanying explanation. I’ll chase up Pascoe, MST. I think that our reading of Indig.Lit which Whispering Gums discussed on Monday has made it more and more difficult to overlook our bloody history.

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