In the first decades of the nineteenth century, when European settlers started to move up to the highlands and to use Aboriginal-occupied land on the plateau as sheep and cattle pasture, many of the local Aborigines fought back. Time and again bloody skirmishes flared up, though most were never mentioned in pioneer circles and have subsequently been erased from public memory. The Myall Creek massacre is one of the few that has found a place in the history of white Australia.

For Aboriginal people, expulsion from the lands of their ancestors amounted to spiritual as well as physical dispossession, and they resisted as best they could: white stockmen staying in huts far away from pioneer townships or homesteads feared for their lives. In 1837 and 1838, Aborigines repeatedly ambushed and killed stockmen near the Gwydir and Namoi rivers. Then, during the absence of the overseer at Myall Creek Station, near present-day Inverell, twelve farm hands organized a raid in retribution, killing 28 Aborigines. In court, the farm hands were acquitted – public opinion saw nothing wrong with their deed, and neither did the jury. The case was later taken up again, however, and seven of the participants in the massacre were sentenced to death on the gallows.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Australia features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Solo travel in Australia: everything you need to know

Solo travel in Australia: everything you need to know

Australia remains a classic travel destination. A steady stream of gap-year backpackers, career breakers and round-the-world-trippers head down under to sample …

22 Nov 2016 • Shafik Meghji insert_drive_file Article
Road trip Australia: 6 of the best routes

Road trip Australia: 6 of the best routes

Pack your stuff, throw it in camper van along with a surfboard and don’t look back… This might be an old cliché but it’s one for good reason: Australia r…

18 Oct 2016 • Ros Walford insert_drive_file Article
Sydney or Melbourne: the great Aussie debate

Sydney or Melbourne: the great Aussie debate

Sydney and Melbourne have been battling it out for supremacy as long as Europeans have been setting sail for Australia. Both are capitals of their respective st…

03 Oct 2016 • Helen Ochyra insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month