A party of Soldiers visiting Botany Bay Colebee at that place, when wounded', Port Jackson Painter/Watling collection. Watercolour, c1790-1797.
A party of Soldiers visiting Botany Bay Colebee at that place, when wounded', Port Jackson Painter/Watling collection. Watercolour, c1790-1797.

SHAMEFUL PAST: Three local massacre sites detailed

TERRIBLE atrocities committed against Gumbaynggirr and Bundjalung people of the Coffs Clarence region have been recorded on the Aboriginal massacres map, created by University of Newcastle researchers.

Three historic massacre sites have been listed near Bellingen, modern day Coutts Crossing and near Seelands and Ramornie.

The University's Centre for 21st Century Humanities and the Centre for the History of Violence has just updated its Colonial Frontier Massacres in Australia map detailing atrocities against Aboriginal people between 1788 and 1930.

A further 47 massacre sites have been listed.

University of Newcastle research academic, Professor Lyndall Ryan said the response from the Australian public has been overwhelmingly positive.

"People have been generous in offering the research team further corroborating data and information about incidents that were not yet included on the map," Prof. Ryan said.

"The high level of community interest and engagement comes from regional Australia, where most of the incidents took place, suggesting that people in the regions really do want to know what happened.

"It's important to document these incidents because they resolve the long standing question: how violent was the colonial frontier?

"The map shows that massacre was widespread and affected hundreds of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities."

University of Newcastle research academic, Professor Lyndall Ryan.
University of Newcastle research academic, Professor Lyndall Ryan.

Stage one of the Colonial Frontier Massacres Map, recorded 172 incidents across Eastern Australia between 1788 and 1872.

It documents the massacre site locations, details of the individual massacres and the sources corroborating evidence of the massacres.

Stage two of the digital resource completed today extends through to 1930, incorporates for the first time sites of frontier massacres that occurred in the Northern Territory and South Australia, along with some further incidents in Eastern Australia, with more to follow as research continues.

About 97% of people killed in these massacres were Aboriginal men, women and children

Massacres became more violent, systematic and calculated over time

The average number of Indigenous deaths increased over time, before declining in the 1900s, but massacres continued up to 1928

At least 65 massacres of Indigenous people were in retaliation for the killing or theft of livestock, or theft of property

"Just about all of the massacres in the first 30 years are carried out by government forces," Prof. Ryan noted.

The University of Newcastle's Aboriginal massacre map.
The University of Newcastle's Aboriginal massacre map.

Coffs Clarence massacre sites listed on the map


Darkie Point, Bellinger River, near Ebor

Ten people were killed at Darkie Point on the Bellingen River in May, 1841 with settlers and stockmen using firearms and muskets to attack a local Baanbay Aboriginal tribe in an act of reprisal.

"Following the brutal murder of three shepherds on Eldershaw's outstation in the north eastern part of New England and the taking of 2000 sheep by Bundjalung, Eldershaw organised a 'pursuing party' of ten men (including Eldershaw, three neighbours and six stockmen)," the narrative by the Colonial Frontier Massacres research team reads.

'Well mounted and accoutred' and set off with ten days provisions for the south branch of the Clarence. According to Eldershaw they shot the entire group - 'a great number' in daylight.'


Orara River, near Seelands and Ramornie

More than 20 people were killed on the Orara River, near Sealands between April 1, 1841 and April 30, 1841.

The attackers included colonisers, a government official and settlers and stockmen.

"In response to stock theft, from Ramornie station, CLC Oakes of Clarence PD swore in stockmen as special constables to surround a Bundjalung (Ngarabal? speakers) camp at night and at daybreak charged and killed indiscriminately Aboriginal men, women and children."

A man named Lynch was later charged with the stock theft.


Kangaroo Creek, near the current Coutts Crossing

An estimated 23 Gumabynggnir people were killed on November 29, 1847.

"In February 1848, Crown Lands Commissioner, Oliver Fry, was told by a stockman and an Aboriginal man at Grafton that squatter Thomas Coutts had poisoned 23 Aboriginal people by offering them flour laced with arsenic at his station at Kangaroo Creek."

Fry set off for Kangaroo Creek Station to investigate.

He found human remains, but they were too decomposed for analysis.

Coutts was arrested and taken to Sydney where he was bailed for 1,000 pounds, but was discharged in May for lack of evidence.