There have been many massacres and slaughter of Aborigines
that have gone unrecorded in Australian history, but the Myall Creek Massacre,
stands out, as the only one of its type, where the perpetrators were punished for
the crimes against Aborigines.
On the 10th June 1838, twelve armed stockman rode
onto Henry Dangar’s property at Myall Creek in Northern NSW, near Bingara, and
rounded up, like animals, twenty eight friendly Aboriginal, elderly men, women
and children. These were the relatives of the Aboriginal men who were working
with the station manager, William Hobbs.
The twelve stockmen then dragged the Aborigines into the
bush and slaughtered every last one. Their bodies were then burnt. The cowardly
attack on the elderly Aboriginal men, women and children was well planned.
When William Hobbs returned and discovered the attack, he
immediately began his own investigation into the atrocity. He went to the site
of the massacre, questioned other employees of the station and let it be
known that he intended to report the matter to his employer, Henry Dangar, as
well as the authorities.
On the 24th June, Frederick I. Foot, a
landholder, travelled to Muswellbrook to report the incident. On arrival at
Muswellbrook, Foot discovered he had missed the police magistrate so decided to
travel onto Sydney to report the incident there. On the 4th July,
Foot wrote an account of the incident for the attention of Governor Gipps.
Governor Gipps ordered an investigation into the incident
with the view to prosecution. There was a great deal of antagonism against the
Government for this decision.
Unfortunately, colonial Australia was extremely racist and
Victorian in their thinking and treated Aborigines as pests, and animals to be
exterminated. Later, when the perpetrators were put on trial, one juror was
quoted in the Australian Newspaper as saying,” I look on the blacks as a
sort of monkey and the sooner they are exterminated from the face of the earth,
the better. I knew the men were guilty but I would never see a white man
hanged for killing a black.”
The hanging of the Myall Creek murderers caused great
outrage in Sydney, but there were many colonists that were outraged at the
massacre of Aboriginal people, but unfortunately, those colonists were the
One hundred and sixty two years after the massacre, a
memorial to the Wirrayaraay Aborigines of Myall Creek was dedicated on the 10th
June 2000. An annual memorial service has been held on 10th June, at
the site of the massacre, ever since. Colin Isaacs is the artist who painted
the original artwork from which the engravings on the seven plaques
along the memorial walkway of the Myall Creek Memorial were made.
In 2008, Heritage Minister Peter Garrett, announced the inclusion of
the Myall Creek massacre site on the National Heritage List. Minister Garrett
made the announcement while attending a memorial service for the 170th anniversary of the massacre.