In the early days of the European settlement of Australia, especially during the 1800’s, it was common for large numbers of Aboriginal people (men, women and children) to be massacred by the white settlers, including by police and soldiers. Most of these were not reported and were known to only a few people. Therefore, there was no action taken to punish the offenders and indeed, there was approval from most white settlers and government officials for this to continue to happen. The Myall Creek massacre in 1838 proved to be a turning point in such attitudes.
Preceding the Myall Creek massacre in the Namoi River area (northern NSW) had been the killing of about 200 Aboriginal people at what became known as Slaughter House Creek. Those people were killed at the end of May 1938 because they were disturbing cattle herds in area. The European settlers then decided to exterminate all Aboriginals from the area.
1. When did the Myall Creek massacre occur?
The Myall Creek massacre occurred in early June 1838. 2. Describe what happened.
A group of twelve stockmen rounded up 28 old men, women and children, roped them together, took them behind a hill and butchered them. Later they returned and burnt the bodies. 3. What happened to the station manager who reported the killings?
When the manager returned from working with some of the Aboriginal men he reported the murders. For this he was later dismissed. 4. Why did the Governor decide to take action and have the perpetrators of these murders investigated and arrested?
New Governor Sir George Gipps, a supporter of Aboriginal rights, was appalled, and had specific instructions from London on murders of Aboriginal people. 5. Explain what happened at the first trial for 11 of the accused stockmen.
The 11 were brought to trial in Sydney. They were acquitted on a technicality. 6. What did one of the jurors say about this case and the verdict?
One of the jurors