Australian frontier wars

Australian frontier wars

New South Wales Mounted Police engaging Indigenous Australians during the Waterloo Creek Massacre of 1838
Date 1788–1934 Location Australia Result British victory Dispossession of land of the indigenous clans
British Army
Native Police
NSW Mounted Police
Border Police
British colonists
Regular police forces
Indigenous Australians
Casualties and losses
Minimum 2,000–2,500 deadMinimum 40,000 dead

The Australian frontier wars is a term applied by some historians to violent conflicts between Indigenous Australians [JS1] and white settlers during the British colonisation of Australia. The first fighting took place several months after the landing of the First Fleet in January 1788 and the last clashes occurred in the early 20th century, as late as 1934. A minimum of 40,000 Indigenous Australians and between 2,000 and 2,500 settlers died in the wars. However, recent scholarship on the frontier wars in what is now the state of Queensland indicates that Indigenous fatalities may have been significantly higher. Indeed, while battles and massacres occurred in a number of locations across Australia, they were particularly bloody in Queensland, owing to its comparatively larger pre-contact Indigenous population.

Background and population

“Night Attack by Blacks”, monotone painting by Livingston Hopkins

In 1770 a British expedition under the command of then-Lieutenant James Cook[JS2]  made the first voyage by Europeans along the Australian east coast. On 29 April Cook and a small landing party fired on a group of Dharawal people who sought to prevent the British from landing at the foot of their camp at Botany Bay, described by Cook as “a small village”. Two Dharawal men made threatening gestures and a stone was thrown to underline that the British were not welcome to land at that spot. Cook then ordered “a musket to be fired with small-shot” and the elder of the two was hit in a leg. This caused the two Dharawal men to run to their huts and seize their spears and shields. Subsequently, a single spear was thrown towards the British party, which “happily hurt nobody”. This then caused Cook to order “a third musket with small-shots” to be fired, “upon which one of them threw another lance and both immediately ran away.” Cook did not make further contact with the Dharawal.

Cook, in his voyage up the east coast of Australia, observed no signs of agriculture or other development by its inhabitants. Some historians argue that under prevailing European law such land was deemed terra nullius or land belonging to nobody or land ’empty of inhabitants’ (as defined by Emerich de Vattel). Cook wrote that he formally took possession of the east coast of New Holland on 22 August 1770 when on Possession Island off the west coast of Cape York Peninsula.

The British Government decided to establish a prison colony in Australia in 1786. Under the European legal doctrine of terra nullius, Indigenous Australians were not recognised as having property rights and territory could be acquired through ‘original occupation’ rather than conquest or consent. The colony’s Governor, Captain Arthur Phillip, [JS3] was instructed to “live in amity and kindness” with Indigenous Australians and sought to avoid conflict.

The British settlement of Australia commenced with the First Fleet[JS4]  in mid-January 1788 in the south-east in what is now the federal state of New South Wales. This process then continued into Tasmania and Victoria from 1803 onward. Since then the population density of non-Indigenous people has remained highest in this region of the Australian continent. However, conflict with Aboriginal people was never as intense and bloody in the south-eastern colonies as in Queensland and the north-east of the continent. More settlers, as well as Indigenous Australians, were killed on the Queensland frontier than in any other Australian colony. The reason is simple, and is reflected in all evidence and sources dealing with this subject: There were more Aborigines in Queensland. The territory of Queensland was the single most populated section of pre-contact Indigenous Australia, reflected not only in all pre-contact population estimates, but also in the mapping of pre-contact Australia (see Horton’s Map of Aboriginal Australia).

The indigenous population distribution illustrated below is based on two independent sources, firstly on two population estimates made by anthropologists and a social historian in 1930 and in 1988, secondly on the basis of the distribution of known tribal land.

The Distribution of the Pre-Contact Indigenous Population when Imposed on the Current Australian States and Territories.
State/TerritoryShare of Population in the 1930-EstimatesShare of Population in the 1988-EstimatesDistribution of tribal land
Western Australia19.7%20.2%22.1%
New South Wales15.3%18.9%10.3%
Northern Territory15.9%12.6%17.2%
South Australia4.8%4.0%8.6%

All evidence suggests that the territory of Queensland had a pre-contact Indigenous population density more than double that of New South Wales, at least six times that of Victoria and at least twenty times that of Tasmania. Equally there are signs that the population density of Indigenous Australia was comparatively higher in the north-eastern sections of New South Wales, and along the northern coast from the Gulf of Carpentaria and westward including certain sections of the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

Indigenous tribe on the banks of the River Torrens, 1850

Estimated Minimum Indigenous Population by 1788 (based on Prentis 1988).
State/TerritoryPopulation in numbersPopulation in percentage
Western Australia150,00020.2%
New South Wales160,00018.9%
Northern Territory100,00012.6%
South Australia32,0004.0%
Estimated Total795,000100%

Impact of disease

The effects of disease, infertility, loss of hunting grounds, and starvation on the Aboriginal population were significant. There are indications that smallpox epidemics may have impacted heavily on some Aboriginal tribes, with depopulation in large sections of what is now Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland up to 50% or more, even before the move inland from Sydney of squatters [JS5] and their livestock. Other diseases hitherto unknown in the Indigenous population—such as the common cold, flu, measles, venereal diseases and tuberculosis—also had an impact, significantly reducing their numbers and tribal cohesion, and so limiting their ability to adapt to or resist invasion and dispossession.

Traditional Aboriginal warfare

Aboriginal warrior

According to the historian John Connor, traditional Aboriginal warfare should be examined on its own terms and not by definitions of war derived from other societies. Aboriginal people did not have distinct ideas of war and peace, and traditional warfare was common, taking place between groups on an ongoing basis, with great rivalries being maintained over extended periods of time. The aims and methods of traditional Aboriginal warfare arose from their small autonomous social groupings. The fighting of a war to conquer enemy territory was not only beyond the resources of any of these Aboriginal groupings, it was contrary to a culture that was based on spiritual connections to a specific territory. Consequently, conquering another group’s territory may have been seen to be of little benefit. Ultimately, traditional Aboriginal warfare was aimed at continually asserting the superiority of one’s own group over its neighbor’s, rather than conquering, destroying or displacing neighbouring groups. As the explorer Edward John Eyre [JS6] observed in 1845, whilst Aboriginal culture was “so varied in detail”, it was “similar in general outline and character”, and Connor observes that there were sufficient similarities in weapons and warfare of these groups to allow generalisations about traditional Aboriginal warfare to be made.

In 1840, the American-Canadian ethnologist Horatio Hale[JS7]  identified four types of Australian Aboriginal traditional warfare; formal battles, ritual trials, raids for women, and revenge attacks. Formal battles involved fighting between two groups of warriors, which ended after a few warriors had been killed or wounded, due to the need to ensure the ongoing survival of the groups. Such battles were usually fought to settle grievances between groups, and could take some time to prepare. Ritual trials involved the application of customary law to one or more members of a group who had committed a crime such as murder or assault. Weapons were used to inflict injury, and the criminal was expected to stand their ground and accept the punishment. Some Aboriginal men had effective property rights over women and raids for women were essentially about transferring property from one group to another to ensure the survival of a group through women’s food-gathering and childbearing roles. The final type of Aboriginal traditional warfare described by Hale was the revenge attack, undertaken by one group against another to punish the group for the actions of one of its members, such as a murder. In some cases these involved sneaking into the opposition camp at night and silently killing one or more members of the group.

Connor describes traditional Aboriginal warfare as both limited and universal. It was limited in terms of:

  • the number of members of each group, which restricted the number of warriors in any given engagement;
  • the fact that their non-hierarchical social order militated against one leader combining many groups into a single force; and
  • duration, due to social groups needing to regularly hunt and forage for food.

Traditional Aboriginal warfare was also universal, as the entire community participated in warfare, boys learnt to fight by playing with toy melee and missile weapons, and every initiated male became a warrior. Women were sometimes participants in warfare as warriors and as encouragers on the sidelines of formal battles, but more often as victims.

While the selection and design of weapons varied from group to group, Aboriginal warriors used a combination of melee and missile weapons in traditional warfare. Spears, clubs and shields were commonly used in hand-to-hand fighting, with different types of shields favoured during exchanges of missiles and in close combat, and spears (often used in conjunction with spear throwers), boomerangs[JS8]  and stones used as missile weapons.

Available weapons had a significant influence over the tactics used during traditional Aboriginal warfare. The limitations of spears and clubs meant that surprise was paramount during raids for women and revenge attacks, and encouraged ambushing and night attacks. These tactics were offset by counter-measures such as regularly changing campsites, being prepared to extinguish camp-fires at short notice, and posting parties of warriors to cover the escape of raiders.

General history

Detail of an artwork by the Port Jackson Painter that shows the spearing of Arthur Phillip[JS9] , 1790

First settlement

Initial peaceful relations between Indigenous Australians and Europeans began to be strained several months after the First Fleet established Sydney on 26 January 1788. The local Indigenous people became suspicious when the British began to clear land and catch fish, and in May 1788 five convicts were killed and an Indigenous man was wounded. The British grew increasingly concerned when groups of up to three hundred Indigenous people were sighted at the outskirts of the settlement in June. Despite this, Phillip attempted to avoid conflict, and forbade reprisals after being speared in 1790. He did, however, authorize two punitive expeditions in December 1790 after his huntsman was killed by an Indigenous warrior named Pemulwuy,[JS10]  but neither was successful.

Coastal and inland expansion

During the 1790s and early 19th century the British established small settlements along the Australian coastline. These settlements initially occupied small amounts of land, and there was little conflict between the settlers and Indigenous peoples. Fighting broke out when the settlements expanded, however, disrupting traditional Indigenous food-gathering activities, and subsequently followed the pattern of European settlement in Australia for the next 150 years. Indeed, whilst the reactions of the Aboriginal inhabitants to the sudden arrival of British settlers were varied, they became inevitably hostile when their presence led to competition over resources, and to the occupation of their lands. European diseases decimated Indigenous populations, and the occupation or destruction of lands and food resources sometimes led to starvation. By and large neither the Europeans nor the Indigenous peoples approached the conflict in an organised sense, with the conflict more one between groups of settlers and individual tribes rather than systematic warfare, even if at times it did involve British soldiers and later formed mounted police units. Not all Indigenous Australians resisted white encroachment on their lands either, whilst many also served in mounted police units and were involved in attacks on other tribes. Settlers in turn often reacted with violence, resulting in a number of indiscriminate massacres. European activities provoking significant conflict included pastoral squatting and gold rushes[JS11] .

Unequal weaponry

Fighting between Burke and Wills‘ supply party and Indigenous Australians at Bulla, Queensland in 1861

Opinions differ on whether to depict the conflict as one-sided and mainly perpetrated by Europeans on Indigenous Australians or not. Although tens of thousands more Indigenous Australians died than Europeans, some cases of mass killing were not massacres but quasi-military defeats, and the higher death toll was also caused by the technological and logistic advantages enjoyed by Europeans. Indigenous tactics varied, but were mainly based on pre-existing hunting and fighting practices—utilising spears, clubs and other simple weapons. Unlike the indigenous peoples of New Zealand and North America, in the main they failed to adapt to meet the challenge of the Europeans, and although there were some instances of individuals and groups acquiring and using firearms, this was not widespread. In reality the Indigenous peoples were never a serious military threat, regardless of how much the settlers may have feared them. On occasions large groups attacked Europeans in open terrain and a conventional battle ensued, during which the Aborigines would attempt to use superior numbers to their advantage. This could sometimes be effective, with reports of them advancing in crescent formation in an attempt to outflank and surround their opponents, waiting out the first volley of shots and then hurling their spears whilst the settlers reloaded. Usually, however, such open warfare proved more costly for the Indigenous Australians than the Europeans.

Central to the success of the Europeans was the use of firearms, but the advantages this afforded have often been overstated. Prior to the 19th century, firearms were often cumbersome muzzle-loading, smooth-bore, single shot weapons with flint-lock mechanisms. Such weapons produced a low rate of fire, whilst suffering from a high rate of failure and were only accurate within 50 metres (160 ft). These deficiencies may have given the Aborigines some advantages, allowing them to move in close and engage with spears or clubs. However, by 1850 significant advances in firearms gave the Europeans a distinct advantage, with the six-shot Colt revolver, the Snider single shot breech-loading rifle[JS12]  and later the Martini-Henry rifle as well as rapid-fire rifles such as the Winchester rifle, becoming available. These weapons, when used on open ground and combined with the superior mobility provided by horses to surround and engage groups of Indigenous Australians, often proved successful. The Europeans also had to adapt their tactics to fight their fast-moving, often hidden enemies. Strategies employed included night-time surprise attacks, and positioning forces to drive the Aborigines off cliffs or force them to retreat into rivers while attacking from both banks.

Dispersed frontiers

Native police in 1865

Fighting between Indigenous Australians and European settlers was localized, as Indigenous groups did not form confederations capable of sustained resistance. Conflict emerged as a series of violent engagements, and massacres across the continent. According to the historian Geoffrey Blainey[JS13] , in Australia during the colonial period: “In a thousand isolated places there were occasional shootings and spearing’s. Even worse, smallpox, measles, influenza and other new diseases swept from one Aboriginal camp to another … The main conqueror of Aborigines was to be disease and its ally, demoralization”.

The Caledon Bay crisis [JS14] of 1932–4 saw one of the last incidents of violent interaction on the ‘frontier’ of indigenous and non-indigenous Australia, which began when the spearing of Japanese poachers who had been molesting Yolngu women was followed by the killing of a policeman. As the crisis unfolded, national opinion swung behind the Aboriginal people involved, and the first appeal on behalf of an Indigenous Australian, Dhakiyarr Wirrpanda, was launched to the High Court of Australia in Tuckiar v The King. Following the crisis, the anthropologist Donald Thomson was dispatched by the government to live among the Yolngu. Elsewhere around this time, activists like Sir Douglas Nicholls[JS15]  were commencing their campaigns for Aboriginal rights within the established Australian political system and the age of frontier conflict closed.

Frequent friendly relations

Frontier encounters in Australia were not universally negative. Positive accounts of Aboriginal customs and encounters are also recorded in the journals of early European explorers, who often relied on Aboriginal guides and assistance: Charles Sturt[JS16]  employed Aboriginal envoys to explore the Murray-Darling; the lone survivor of the Burke and Wills expedition was nursed by local Aborigines, and the famous Aboriginal explorer Jackey Jackey loyally accompanied his ill-fated friend Edmund Kennedy to Cape York. Respectful studies were conducted by such as Walter Baldwin Spencer and Frank Gillen in their renowned anthropological study The Native Tribes of Central Australia (1899); and by Donald Thomson [JS17] of Arnhem Land (c.1935–1943). In inland Australia, the skills of Aboriginal stockmen became highly regarded.

New South Wales

Hawkesbury and Nepean Wars

The first frontier war began in 1795 when the British established farms along the Hawkesbury River west of Sydney. Some of these settlements were established by soldiers as a means of providing security to the region. The local Darug people raided farms until Governor Macquarie [JS18] dispatched troops from the British Army 46th Regiment in 1816. These troops patrolled the Hawkesbury Valley and ended the conflict by killing 14 Indigenous Australians in a raid on their campsite. Indigenous Australians led by Pemulwuy also conducted raids around Parramatta during the period between 1795 and 1802. These attacks led Governor Philip Gidley King[JS19]  to issue an order in 1801 which authorized settlers to shoot Indigenous Australians on sight in Parramatta, Georges River and Prospect areas.

Bathurst War

Conflict began again when the British expanded into inland New South Wales. The settlers who crossed the Blue Mountains were harassed by Wiradjuri warriors, who killed or wounded stock-keepers and stock and were subjected to retaliatory killings. In response, Governor Brisbane proclaimed martial law on 14 August 1824 to end “…the Slaughter of Black Women and Children, and unoffending White Men…”. It remained in force until 11 December 1824, when it was proclaimed that “…the judicious and humane Measures pursued by the Magistrates assembled at Bathurst have restored Tranquility without Bloodshed…”. There is a display of the weaponry and history of this conflict at the National Museum of Australia. This includes a commendation by Governor Brisbane of the deployment of the troops under Major Morisset[JS20] :

I felt it necessary to augment the Detachment at Bathurst to 75 men who were divided into various small parties, each headed by a Magistrate who proceeded in different directions in towards the interior of the Country … This system of keeping these unfortunate People in a constant state of alarm soon brought them to a sense of their Duty, and … Saturday their great and most warlike Chieftain has been with me to receive his pardon and that He, with most of His Tribe, attended the annual conference held here on the 28th Novr….

Brisbane also established the New South Wales Mounted Police, who began as mounted infantry from the third Regiment, and were first deployed against bushrangers around Bathurst in 1825. Later they were deployed to the upper Hunter Region in 1826 after fighting broke out there between Wonnarua and Kamilaroi people and settlers.

Wars on the plains

An illustration of the explorer Charles Sturt‘s party being “threatened by blacks at the junction of the Murray and Darling, 1830”, near Wentworth, New South Wales.

From the 1830s British settlement spread rapidly through inland eastern Australia, leading to widespread conflict. Fighting took place across the Liverpool Plains, with 16 British and up to 500 Indigenous Australians being killed between 1832 and 1838. The fighting in this region included several massacres of Indigenous people including as the Waterloo Creek massacre[JS21]  and Myall Creek massacres[JS22]  in 1838 and did not end until 1843. Further fighting took place in the New England region during the early 1840s.


Poster issued in Van Diemen’s Land during the Black War implying a policy of friendship and equal justice for white settlers and Indigenous Australians. Such a policy did not actually exist at the time.

The British established a settlement in Van Diemen’s Land (modern Tasmania) in 1803. Relations with the local Indigenous people were generally peaceful until the mid-1820s when pastoral expansion caused conflict over land. This led to sustained frontier warfare (the ‘Black War‘), and in some districts farmers were forced to fortify their houses. Over 50 British were killed between 1828 and 1830 in what was the “most successful Aboriginal resistance in Australia’s history”.

In 1830 Lieutenant-Governor Arthur [JS23] attempted to end the ‘Black War’ through a massive offensive. In an operation which became known as the ‘Black Line‘ ten percent of the colony’s male civilian population were mobilized and marched across the settled districts in company with police and soldiers in an attempt to clear Indigenous Australians from the area. While few Indigenous people were captured, the operation discouraged the Indigenous raiding parties, and they gradually agreed to leave their land for a reservation which had been established at Flinders Island.

Western Australia

Portrait of Noongar warrior Yagan’s severed head, 1833

The first British settlement in Western Australia was established by the British Army at Albany in 1826. Relations between the garrison and the local Minang people were generally good. Open conflict between Noongar and European settlers broke out in Western Australia in the 1830s as the Swan River Colony expanded from Perth. The Pinjarra Massacre,[JS24]  the best known single event, occurred on 28 October 1833 when a party of British soldiers and mounted police led by Governor Stirling[JS25]  attacked an Indigenous campsite on the banks of the Murray River.

The Noongar people, forced from traditional hunting grounds and denied access to sacred sites, turned to stealing settlers’ crops and killing livestock to supplement their food supply. In 1831 a Noongar person was killed taking potatoes; this resulted in Yagan killing a servant of the household, as was the response permitted under tribal law. In 1832 Yagan and two others were arrested and sentenced to death, but settler Robert Menli Lyon [JS26] argued that Yagan was defending his land from invasion and therefore should be treated as a prisoner of war. The argument was successful and the three men were exiled to Carnac Island under the supervision of Lyon and two soldiers. The group later escaped from the island.

Fighting continued into the 1840s along the Avon River near York.

In the Busselton region, relations between the white settlers and the native Wardandi people were strained to the point of violence, resulting in several Aboriginal deaths. In June 1841, George Layman was speared to death by Wardandi elder Gaywal. According to one source, Layman had got involved in an argument between Gaywal and another Wardandi tribesman over their allocation of damper, and had pulled Gaywal’s beard, which was considered a grave insult. According to another source, Layman had hired two of Gaywal’s wives to work on his farm and would not let them go back to their husband. A manhunt for Layman’s killer went on for several weeks, involving much bloodshed as Captain Molloy, the Bussell brothers, and troops killed unknown numbers of Aboriginals in what has become known as the Wonnerup Massacre. The posse eventually shot Gaywal and captured his three sons, two of whom were imprisoned on Rottnest Island[JS27] .

The discovery of gold near Coolgardie in 1892 brought thousands of prospectors onto Wangkathaa land, causing sporadic fighting.

Continued European expansion in Western Australia led to further frontier conflict, Bunuba raiders also attacked European settlements during the 1890s until their leader Jandamarra was killed in 1897. Sporadic conflict continued in northern Western Australia until the 1920s, with a Royal Commission held in 1926 finding that at least eleven Indigenous Australians had been killed in the Forrest River massacre[JS28]  by a police expedition in retaliation for the death of a European.

South Australia

Aborigines attack squatters sleeping near Lake Hope, 1866

South Australia was settled in 1836 with no convicts and a unique plan for settlers to purchase land in advance of their arrival, which was intended to ensure a balance of landowners and farm workers in the colony. The Colonial Office were very conscious of the recent history of the earlier settlements in the eastern states, where there was significant conflict with the Aboriginal population. At the initial proclamation day in 1836 Governor Hindmarsh[JS29] , made a brief statement that explicitly stated how the native population should be treated. He said in part:

It is also, at this time especially, my duty to apprize the Colonists of my resolution, to take every lawful means of extending the same protection to the native population as to the rest of His Majesty’s Subjects, and of my firm determination to punish with exemplary severity, all acts of violence or injustice which may in any manner be practiced or attempted against the natives, who are to be considered as much under the Safeguard of the law as the Colonists themselves, and equally entitled to the privileges of British Subjects.

Governor Gawler [JS30] declared in 1840 that Aboriginal people “have exercised distinct, defined, and absolute right or proprietary and hereditary possession … from time immemorial.” The Governor ordered land to be set aside for Aborigines, but there was bitter opposition from landowners who insisted on a right to choose the best land. Eventually the land was available to Aborigines only if it promoted their ‘Christianisation’ and they became farmers.

The designation of the Aboriginal population as British citizens gave them rights and responsibilities of which they had no knowledge, and ignored existing Aboriginal customary law. However, Aboriginal people could not testify in court, since, not being Christians, they could not swear an oath on a bible. There was also great difficulty in translation. The good intentions of those establishing and leading the new colony soon came into conflict with the fears of the Aboriginal people and the new settlers. “In South Australia, as across Australia’s other colonies, the failure to adequately deal with Aboriginal rights to land was fundamental to the violence that followed.”

Soon after the colony was established, large numbers of sheep and cattle were brought overland from the eastern colonies. There were many instances of conflict between Aborigines and the drovers, with the former desiring the protection of their land and the sheep and the latter quick to shoot to protect themselves and their flocks. One expedition leader (Buchanan) recorded at least six conflicts and the deaths of eight Aboriginal people.

In 1840 the ship Maria [JS31] was wrecked on Encounter Bay, about 100 km south of Adelaide. A search party found that all 26 survivors of the wreck had been massacred. The Governor summoned the Executive Council under martial law and a police party was sent to the district to deliver summary justice against the offending tribe. The police party apprehended a number of Aboriginal people; two men were implicated, tried by a tribunal from members of the expedition, found guilty and hanged. There was vigorous debate in the colony between those approving the immediate punishment for the massacre and those condemning this form of justice outside the normal law.

The town of Port Lincoln, which was readily accessible by sea from Adelaide, became an early new settlement. A small number of shepherds began to encroach on the land occupied by a large Aboriginal population. Deaths on both side occurred and the settlers demanded better protection. Police and soldiers were sent to Eyre Peninsula, but were often ineffective due to the size of the area and the number of isolated settlements. By the mid ’40s. after conflicts sometimes involving large numbers of Aborigines, the greater lethality of the white people’s weapons had their effect. Several alleged leaders of attacks by Aboriginal people were tried and executed in Adelaide.

The experience of the Port Lincoln settlement on Eyre Peninsula was repeated in the South East of the state and in the north as settlers encroached on the Aboriginal people. The government attempted to apply the sentiments of the state’s proclamation, but the contradictions between these sentiments and the dispossession that the settlement involved made conflict inevitable.


Fighting also took place in early pre-separation Victoria after it was settled in 1834.

In 1833–34, the battle for rights to a beached whale between whalers and the Gunditjmara resulted in the Convincing Ground massacre[JS32]  near Portland, Victoria.

A clash at Benalla in 1838 known as the Battle of Broken River of which at least seven white settlers were killed, marked the beginning of frontier conflict in the colony which lasted for fifteen years.

In 1839 the reprisal raid against Aboriginal resistance in central Victoria resulted in the Campaspe Plains massacre[JS33] .

The Indigenous groups in Victoria concentrated on economic warfare, killing tens of thousands of sheep. Large numbers of British settlers arrived in Victoria during the 1840s, and rapidly outnumbered the Indigenous population.

From 1840, the Eumerella Wars[JS34]  raged in south west Victoria, and many years of violence occurred during the Warrigal creek and Gippsland massacres.

In 1842, white inhabitants from the Port Fairy area wrote a letter to the Charles Latrobe[JS35]  requesting the government improve security from “outrages committed by natives” and listing many incidents of conflict and economic warfare. An excerpt of the letter printed on 10 June:

“We, the undersigned, settlers and inhabitants of the district of Port Fairy, beg respectfully to represent to your Honor the great and increasing want of security to life and property which exists here at present, in consequence of the absence of any protection against the natives. Their number, their ferocity, and their cunning, render them peculiarly formidable, and the outrages of which they are daily and nightly guilty, and which they accomplish generally with impunity and success, may, we fear, lead to a still more distressing state of things, unless some measures, prompt and effective, be immediately taken to prevent matters coming to that unhappy crisis.”

In the late 1840s, frontier conflict continued in the Wimmera[JS36] .


Aftermath of the 1861 Cullin-La-Ringo massacre[JS37]  in which 19 settlers were killed by Aborigines, the deadliest attack on settlers in the frontier wars

Fighting near Creen Creek, Queensland in September 1876

The frontier wars were particularly bloody and bitter in Queensland, owing to its comparatively large Indigenous population. This point is emphasised in a 2011 study by Orsted-Jensen, which by use of two different sources calculated that colonial Queensland must have accounted for upwards of one third and close to forty percent of the indigenous population of the pre-contact Australian continent.

Queensland represents the single bloodiest colonial frontier in Australia. Thus the records of Queensland document the most frequent reports of shootings and massacres of indigenous people, the three deadliest massacres on white settlers, the most disreputable frontier police force, and the highest number of white victims to frontier violence on record in any Australian colony. In 2009 professor Raymond Evans calculated the indigenous fatalities caused by the Queensland Native Police Force[JS38]  alone as no less than 24,000. In July 2014, Evans, in cooperation with the Danish historian Robert Ørsted-Jensen, presented the first-ever attempt to use statistical modelling and a database covering no less than 644 collisions gathered from primary sources, and ended up with total fatalities suffered during Queensland’s frontier wars being no less than 66,680—with Aboriginal fatalities alone comprising no less than 65,180—whereas the hitherto commonly accepted minimum overall continental deaths had previously been 20,000. The 66,680 covers Native Police and settler-inflicted fatalities on Aboriginal people, but also a calculated estimate for Aboriginal inflicted casualties on the invading forces of whites and their associates. The continental death toll of Europeans and associates has previously been roughly estimated as between 2,000 and 2,500, yet there is now evidence that Queensland alone accounted for an estimated 1,500 of these fatal frontier casualties.

The invasion of what is now Queensland commenced as the Moreton Bay penal settlement from September 1824. It was initially located at Redcliffe but moved south to Brisbane River a year later. Free settlement began in 1838 but a wholesale invasion and settlement only really began with the great rush to take up the surrounding land in the Darling Downs, Logan and Brisbane Valley and South Burnett onwards from 1840, in many cases leading to widespread fighting and heavy loss of life. The conflict later spread north to the Wide Bay and Burnett River and Hervey Bay region, and at one stage the settlement of Maryborough was virtually under siege. Both sides committed atrocities, with settlers poisoning a large number of Indigenous people, for example at Kilcoy on the South Burnett in 1842 and on Whiteside near Brisbane in 1847, and Indigenous warriors killing 19 settlers during the Cullin-La-Ringo massacre[JS39]  on 17 October 1861.

Major massacres

Queensland’s Native Police Force was formed by the Government of New South Wales in 1848, under the well connected Commandant Frederick Walker[JS40] .

The largest reasonably well documented massacres in south east Queensland were the Kilcoy and Whiteside poisonings, each of which was said to have taken up to 70 Aboriginal lives by use of gift of flour laced with strychnine. Central Queensland was particularly hard hit during the 1860s and 1870s, several contemporary settlers mention the “Skull Hole” or Mistake Creek massacre on Bladensburg station near Winton which in 1901 was said to have taken up to 200 Aboriginal lives. In 1869 the Port Denison Times reported that “Not long ago 120 aboriginals disappeared on two occasions forever from the native records” Frontier violence peaked on the northern mining frontier during the 1870s, most notably in Cook district and on the Palmer and Hodgkinson River goldfields, with heavy loss of Aboriginal lives and several well known massacres. Battle Camp and Cape Bedford belong among the best known massacres of Aboriginal people in Cook district, but they were certainly not the only ones. The Cape Bedford massacre on 20 February 1879 alone was reported to have taken as many as 28 lives, this was retaliation for the injuring (but not killing) of two white “ceder-getters” from Cooktown. In January 1879 Carl Feilberg[JS41] , the editor of the short lived Brisbane Daily News (later editor-in-chief of the Brisbane Courier), conveyed a report from a “gentleman, on whose words reliance can be placed” that he had after just “one of these raids…counted as many as seventy-five natives dead or dying upon the ground.”

Raids conducted by the Kalkadoon held settlers out of Western Queensland for ten years until September 1884 when they attacked a force of settlers and native police at Battle Mountain near modern Cloncurry. The subsequent battle of Battle Mountain ended in disaster for the Kalkadoon, who suffered heavy losses. Fighting continued in north Queensland, however, with Indigenous raiders attacking sheep and cattle while native police mounted punitive expeditions. Two reports from 1884 and 1889 written by one of the prime combatants of the Kalkadoons, Sub-inspector of Native Police (later Queensland Police Commissioner) Frederic Charles Urquhart[JS42]  described how he and his detachment pursued and killed up to 150 Aborigines in just three or four so-called “dispersals” (he provided numbers up to about 80 of these killings, the rest was just described without estimating the actual toll).

The conflict in Queensland was the bloodiest in the history of Colonial Australia. The latest studies gives evidence of some 1,500 whites and associates (meaning Aboriginal servants, as well as Chinese, Melanesian and other non-Europeans) killed on the Queensland frontier during the 19th century, while some recent studies suggest that upwards of 65,000 Aborigines were killed, with sections of Central and North Queensland witnessing particularly heavy fighting. The figure of 65,000 is considerably higher than the common national minimum of 20,000 colonial Aboriginal casualties.

Northern Territory

The British made three early attempts to establish military outposts in northern Australia. The initial settlement at Fort Dundas[JS43]  on Melville Island was established in 1824 but was abandoned in 1829 due to attacks from the local Tiwi people. Some fighting also took place near Fort Wellington on the Cobourg Peninsula between its establishment in 1827 and abandonment in 1829. The third British settlement, Fort Victoria, was also established on the Cobourg Peninsula in 1838 but was abandoned in 1849.

The final battles took place in the Northern Territory. A permanent settlement was established at modern-day Darwin in 1869 and attempts by pastoralists to occupy Indigenous land led to conflict. This fighting continued into the 20th century, and was driven by reprisals against European deaths and the pastoralists’ desire to secure their land. At least 31 Indigenous men were killed by police in the Coniston massacre [JS44] in 1928 and further reprisal expeditions were conducted in 1932 and 1933.


The artwork Aboriginal Memorial commemorates Indigenous Australians who lost their lives defending their land since 1788, and has been on display at the National Gallery of Australia since 1988

Armed resistance to British settlement was generally given little attention by historians until the 1970s, and was not regarded as a “war”. In 1968 anthropologist W.E.H. Stanner[JS45]  wrote that historians’ failure to include Indigenous Australians in histories of Australia or acknowledge widespread frontier conflict constituted a ‘great Australian silence’. Works which discussed the conflicts began to appear during the 1970s and 1980s, and the first history of the Australian frontier told from an Indigenous perspective, Henry ReynoldsThe Other Side of the Frontier, was published in 1982.

Between 2000 and 2002 Keith Windschuttle[JS46]  published a series of articles in the magazine Quadrant and the book The Fabrication of Aboriginal History. These works argued that there had not been prolonged frontier warfare in Australia, and that historians had in some instances fabricated evidence of fighting. Windschuttle’s claims led to the so-called “history wars” in which historians debated the extent of the conflict between Indigenous Australians and European settlers.

The frontier wars are not commemorated at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. The Memorial argues that the Australian frontier fighting is outside its charter as it did not involve Australian military forces. This position is supported by the Returned and Services League of Australia but is opposed by many historians, including Geoffrey Blainey, Gordon Briscoe, John Coates[JS47] , John Connor, Ken Inglis[JS48] , Michael McKernan and Peter Stanley[JS49] . These historians argue that the fighting should be commemorated at the Memorial as it involved large numbers of Indigenous Australians and paramilitary Australian units.

 [JS1]Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples of Australia, descended from groups that existed in Australia and surrounding islands before British colonisation. The time of arrival of the first peoples on the continent and nearby islands is a matter of debate among researchers. The earliest conclusively human remains found in Australia are those of Mungo Man LM3 and Mungo Lady, which have been dated to around 50,000 years BP. Recent archaeological evidence from the analysis of charcoal and artefacts revealing human use suggests a date as early as 65,000 BP. Luminescence dating has suggested habitation in Arnhem Land as far back as 60,000 years BP. Evidence of fires in South-West Australia suggest ‘human presence in Australia 120,000 years ago’, although more research is required. Genetic research has inferred a date of habitation as early as 80,000 years BP. Other estimates have ranged up to 100,000 years and 125,000 years BP

 [JS2]James Cook FRS (7 November 1728 – 14 February 1779) was a British explorer, navigator, cartographer, and captain in the British Royal Navy. He made detailed maps of Newfoundland prior to making three voyages to the Pacific Ocean, during which he achieved the first recorded European contact with the eastern coastline of Australia and the Hawaiian Islands, and the first recorded circumnavigation of New Zealand.

 [JS3]admiral Arthur Phillip (11 October 1738 – 31 August 1814) was a Royal Navy officer and the first Governor of New South Wales who founded the British penal colony that later became the city of Sydney, Australia.

After much experience at sea, Phillip sailed with the First Fleet as Governor-designate of the proposed British penal colony of New South Wales. In January 1788, he selected its location to be Port Jackson (encompassing Sydney Harbour).

Phillip was a far-sighted governor who soon saw that New South Wales would need a civil administration and a system for emancipating the convicts. But his plan to bring skilled tradesmen on the voyage had been rejected, and he faced immense problems of labour, discipline and supply.

 [JS4]The First Fleet was the 11 ships that departed from Portsmouth, England, on 13 May 1787 to found the penal colony that became the first European settlement in Australia. The Fleet consisted of two Royal Navy vessels, three store ships and six convict transports, carrying between 1,000 and 1,500 convicts, marines, seamen, civil officers and free people (accounts differ on the numbers), and a large quantity of stores. From England, the Fleet sailed southwest to Rio de Janeiro, then east to Cape Town and via the Great Southern Ocean to Botany Bay, arriving over the period of 18 to 20 January 1788, taking 250 to 252 days from departure to final arrival.

 [JS5]Squatting in Australian history referred to someone who occupied a large tract of crown land in order to graze livestock. Initially often having no legal rights to the land, they gained its usage by being the first (and often the only) settlers in the area. Eventually, the term squattocracy, a play on “aristocracy”, developed to refer to some of these squatters.

 [JS6]Edward John Eyre (5 August 1815 – 30 November 1901) was an English land explorer of the Australian continent, colonial administrator, and a controversial Governor of Jamaica.

 [JS7]Horatio Emmons Hale (May 3, 1817 – December 28, 1896) was an American-Canadian ethnologist, philologist and businessman who studied language as a key for classifying ancient peoples and being able to trace their migrations.

 [JS8]A boomerang is a thrown tool, typically constructed as a flat airfoil, that is designed to spin about an axis perpendicular to the direction of its flight. A returning boomerang is designed to return to the thrower. It is well-known as a weapon used by Indigenous Australians for hunting.

 [JS9]Admiral Arthur Phillip (11 October 1738 – 31 August 1814) was a Royal Navy officer and the first Governor of New South Wales who founded the British penal colony that later became the city of Sydney, Australia

 [JS10]Pemulwuy (also rendered as Pimbloy, Pemulvoy, Pemulwoy, Pemulwy, Pemulwye, or sometimes by contemporary Europeans as Bimblewove or Bumbleway) (c. 1750 – 2 June 1802) was a First Nations man of Eora descent, born around 1750 in the area of Botany Bay in New South Wales. He is noted for his resistance to the European settlement of Australia which began with the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788

 [JS11]During the Australian gold rushes, significant numbers of workers (both from other areas within Australia and from overseas) relocated to areas in which gold had been discovered. A number of gold finds occurred in Australia prior to 1851, but only the gold found from 1851 onwards created gold rushes.

 [JS12]The British .577 Snider–Enfield was a breech-loading rifle. The American Jacob Snider invented the firearm action, and the Snider–Enfield was one of the most widely used of the Snider varieties. The British Army adopted it in 1866 as a conversion system for its ubiquitous Pattern 1853 Enfield muzzle-loading rifles, and used it until 1874 when the Martini–Henry rifle began to supersede it.

 [JS13]Geoffrey Norman Blainey AC FAHA FASSA (born 11 March 1930) is an Australian historian, academic, philanthropist and commentator with a wide international audience. He is noted for having written authoritative texts on the economic and social history of Australia, including The Tyranny of Distance.

 [JS14]Jump to search

The Caledon Bay crisis, refers to a series of killings at Caledon Bay in the Northern Territory of Australia during 1932–34, referred to in the press of the day as Caledon Bay murder(s). Five Japanese trepang fishers were killed by Aboriginal Australians of the Yolngu people. A police officer investigating the deaths, Albert McColl, was subsequently killed.

 [JS15]Sir Douglas Ralph Nicholls, KCVO, OBE (9 December 1906 – 4 June 1988) was a prominent Aboriginal Australian from the Yorta Yorta people.

 [JS16]Captain Charles Napier Sturt (28 April 1795 – 16 June 1869) was a British explorer of Australia, and part of the European exploration of Australia. He led several expeditions into the interior of the continent, starting from both Sydney and later from Adelaide.

 [JS17]Donald Finlay Fergusson Thomson, OBE (26 June 1901 – 12 May 1970) was an Australian anthropologist and ornithologist who was largely responsible for turning the Caledon Bay crisis into a “decisive moment in the history of Aboriginal-European relations”. He is remembered as a friend of the Yolngu people, and as a champion of understanding, by non-Indigenous Australians, of the culture and society of Indigenous Australians

 [JS18]Major General Lachlan Macquarie, CB (/məˈkwɒrɪ/; Scottish Gaelic: Lachann MacGuaire; 31 January 1762 – 1 July 1824) was a British Army officer and colonial administrator from Scotland. Macquarie served as the fifth and last autocratic Governor of New South Wales from 1810 to 1821, and had a leading role in the social, economic and architectural development of the colony.

 [JS19]Captain Philip Gidley King (23 April 1758 – 3 September 1808) was the third Governor of New South Wales, and did much to organise the young colony in the face of great obstacles.

 [JS20]Jump to search

James Thomas Morisset

Lieutenant Colonel James Thomas Morisset (1780 – 17 August 1852), penal administrator, was commandant of the second convict settlement at Norfolk Island, from 29 June 1829 to 1834.

The Waterloo Creek massacre (also Slaughterhouse Creek massacre) refers to a series of violent clashes between mounted police, civilian vigilantes and Indigenous Gamilaraay peoples, which occurred southwest of Moree, New South Wales, Australia, during December 1837 and January 1838

 [JS22]The Myall Creek massacre at Myall Creek near the Gwydir River, in the central New South Wales district of Namoi, involved the brutal killing of at least twenty-eight unarmed Indigenous Australians by eleven colonists on 10 June 1838 at the Myall Creek near Bingara, Murchison County, in northern New South Wales

 [JS23]Sir George Arthur, 1st Baronet KCH (21 June 1784 – 19 September 1854) was Lieutenant Governor of British Honduras from 1814 to 1822, Van Diemen’s Land (present-day Tasmania) from 1823 to 1837. The campaign against Tasmanian Aborigines, known as the Black War, occurred during this term of office.

 [JS24]The Pinjarra Massacre, also known as the Battle of Pinjarra, is an attack that occurred in 1834 at Pinjarra, Western Australia on an uncertain number of Bindjareb Noongar men, women and children by a detachment of 25 soldiers, police and settlers including—and personally led by—Governor James Stirling.[1][5]:25 Stirling estimated the Binjareb attacked to number “about 60 or 70” and John Roe, who also participated, to about 70–80, which roughly agree with an estimate of 70 by an unidentified eyewitness

 [JS25]Admiral Sir James Stirling (28 January 1791 – 22 April 1865) was a British naval officer and colonial administrator. His enthusiasm and persistence persuaded the British Government to establish the Swan River Colony and he became the first Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Western Australia.

 [JS26]Robert Menli Lyon (1789–1874) was a pioneering Western Australian settler who became one of the earliest outspoken advocates for Indigenous Australian rights and welfare in the colony. He published the first information on the Aboriginal language of the Perth area.

 [JS27]Rottnest Island (known as Wadjemup to the local Noongar people, and otherwise colloquially known as Rotto) is an island off the coast of Western Australia, located 18 kilometres (11 mi) west of Fremantle. A sandy, low-lying island formed on a base of aeolianite limestone, Rottnest is an A-class reserve, the highest level of protection afforded to public land.

 [JS28]The Forrest River massacre, or Oombulgurri massacre of June 1926, was a massacre of Indigenous Australian people by a group of law enforcement personnel and civilians in the wake of the killing of a pastoralist in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

 [JS29]Rear-Admiral Sir John Hindmarsh KH RN, also known as Governor Hindmarsh, (baptised 22 May 1785 – 29 July 1860) was a naval officer and the first Governor of South Australia, from 28 December 1836 to 16 July 1838.

 [JS30]Lieutenant-Colonel George Gawler, KH, (21 July 1795 – 7 May 1869) was the second Governor of South Australia, at the same time serving as Resident Commissioner, from 17 October 1838 until 15 May 1841.

 [JS31]Aboriginal Australians on the Coorong massacred some or all of the 17 survivors of the wreck as they journeyed to Adelaide, an event which became known as the Maria massacre. A punitive expedition, acting under instructions from Governor Gawler that were later found to be unlawful, summarily hanged two presumed culprits.

 [JS32]The Convincing Ground Massacre was a skirmish between the indigenous Gunditjmara people Kilcarer gundidj clan and local whalers based in Portland, Victoria in South-Eastern Australia. Tensions between the two groups had been building since the establishment of the town as a whaling station some five years previously, however, around eighteen thirty three or eighteen thirty four, a dispute over a beached whale would cause events to escalate.

 [JS33]Campaspe Plains massacre, occurred in 1839 in Central Victoria, Australia as a reprisal raid against Aboriginal resistance to the invasion and occupation of the Dja Dja Wurrung and Daung Wurrung lands.[1] Charles Hutton took over the Campaspe run, located near the border of Dja Dja Wurrung and Daung Wurrung, in 1838 following sporadic confrontations.

 [JS34]The Eumeralla Wars were the violent encounters between European settlers and Gunditjmara aboriginals in the Western District area of south west Victoria.

 [JS35]Charles Joseph La Trobe, CB (or Latrobe; 20 March 1801 – 4 December 1875) was appointed in 1839 superintendent of the Port Phillip District of New South Wales and, after the establishment in 1851 of the colony of Victoria (now a state of Australia), he became its first lieutenant-governor.

 [JS36]The Wimmera is a region of the Australian state of Victoria. The district is located within parts of the Loddon Mallee and the Grampians regions; and covers the dryland farming area south of the range of Mallee scrub, east of the South Australia border and north of the Great Dividing Range. It can also be defined as the land within the social catchment of Horsham, its main settlement.

 [JS37]In mid October 1861, a squatter party from the colony of Victoria under Horatio Wills began a temporary tent camp to start the process of setting up the grazing property of Cullin-la-ringo. Wills’s party, an enormous settlement train including bullock wagons and more than 10,000 sheep, had set out from Brisbane eight months earlier to set up a farm at Cullin-la-ringo, a property formed by amalgamating four blocks of land with a total area of 260 square kilometres (64,000 acres). The size of the group had attracted much attention from other settlers, as well as the Indigenous people.

 [JS38]Australian native police units, consisting of Aboriginal troopers under the command usually of a single white officer, existed in various forms in all Australian mainland colonies during the nineteenth and, in some cases, into the twentieth centuries. The Native Police were utilised as a cost effective and brutal paramilitary instrument in the expansion and protection of the British colonial frontier in Australia. Mounted Aboriginal troopers of the Native Police, armed with rifles, carbines and swords escorted surveying groups, pastoralists and prospectors into frontier areas.

 [JS39]The Cullin-la-ringo massacre or Wills Tragedy occurred north of modern-day Springsure in Central Queensland on 17 October 1861. It remains the largest massacre of white settlers by Aboriginals in Australian history, and a pivotal moment in the frontier wars in Queensland.

 [JS40]Frederick Walker (14 April 1820 – 19 November 1866) public servant, property manager, Commandant of the Native Police, squatter and Australian explorer.

 [JS41]Carl Adolph Feilberg (21 August 1844 – 25 October 1887) was a Danish-born Australian journalist, newspaper editor, general political commentator, who are today best known as an Australian indigenous human-rights activist

 [JS42]Frederic Charles Urquhart (27 October 1858 – 2 December 1935) was a Native Police officer, Queensland Police Commissioner and Administrator of the Northern Territory.

 [JS43]Fort Dundas was a short-lived British settlement on Melville Island between 1824 and 1828 in what is now the Northern Territory of Australia. It was the first of four British settlement attempts in northern Australia before Goyder‘s survey and establishment of Palmerston, now known as Darwin. The three later attempts were at Fort Wellington, Port Essington and Escape Cliffs.

 [JS44]The Coniston massacre, which took place near the Coniston cattle station in the then Territory of Central Australia (now the Northern Territory) from 14 August to 18 October 1928, was the last known officially sanctioned massacre of Indigenous Australians and one of the last events of the Australian Frontier Wars. People of the Warlpiri, Anmatyerre, and Kaytetye groups were killed. The massacre occurred in revenge for the death of dingo hunter Frederick Brooks, killed by Aboriginal people in August 1928 at a place now known as Yukurru, also known as Brooks Soak.

 [JS45]William Edward Hanley “Bill” Stanner CMG (24 November 1905 – 8 October 1981), often cited as W.E.H. Stanner, was an Australian anthropologist who worked extensively with Indigenous Australians. Stanner had a varied career that also included journalism in the 1930s, military service in World War II, and political advice on colonial policy in Africa and the South Pacific in the post-war period.

 [JS46]Keith Windschuttle (born 1942) is an Australian writer, historian, and former ABC board member.

 [JS47]Lieutenant General Henry John Coates, AC, MBE (28 December 1932 – 11 June 2018) was a senior officer in the Australian Army who served as Chief of the General Staff from 1990 to 1992. After retiring from the Army he became an author and a Visiting Fellow at the Australian Defence Force Academy branch of the University of New South Wales, pursuing aspects of Australia’s military history.

 [JS48]Kenneth Stanley Inglis, AO, FASSA (7 October 1929 – 1 December 2017) was an Australian historian.

Inglis completed his Master’s degree at the University of Melbourne and his doctorate at the University of Oxford. In 1956 he was appointed as a lecturer to the University of Adelaide. He subsequently became Professor of History at the Australian National University, and the University of Papua New Guinea.

Inglis has written extensively on the Anzac tradition, the Stuart Case, war memorials, and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.[1] In 2008 he joined the Faculty of Arts at Monash University, Melbourne, as an Adjunct Professor.

Inglis died, aged 88, on 1 December 2017

 [JS49]Peter Alan Stanley FAHA (born 28 October 1956) is an Australian historian and research professor at the University of New South Wales in the Australian Centre for the Study of Armed Conflict and Society. He was Head of the Centre for Historical Research at the National Museum of Australia from 2007–13. Between 1980 and 2007 he was an historian and sometime exhibition curator at the Australian War Memorial, including as head of the Historical Research Section and Principal Historian from 1987. He has written eight books about Australia and the Great War since 2005, and was a joint winner of the Prime Minister’s Prize for Australian History in 2011.

An Occurrence at Wallaby Creek Bridge

by George W Rehder

A man stood upon a railroad bridge in northern Queensland,

  looking down into the swift water twenty feet below. The man’s hands were behind his back, the wrists bound with a cord. His tie closely encircled his neck. It was attached to a stout cross-timber above his head and the slack fell to the level of his belt. Some loose boards laid upon the sleepers supporting the metals of the railway supplied a footing for him.

It did not appear to be the duty of these two men to know what was occurring at the centre of the bridge; they merely blockaded the two ends of the foot planking that traversed it. Beyond one of the sentinels nobody was in sight; the railroad ran straight away into a forest for a hundred yards, then, curving, was lost to view. Doubtless there was an outpost farther along. The other bank of the stream was open ground—a gentle acclivity topped with a stockade of vertical tree trunks,

He looked a moment at his “unsteadfast footing,” then let his gaze wander to the swirling water of the stream racing madly beneath his feet. A piece of dancing driftwood caught his attention and his eyes followed it down the current. How slowly it appeared to move! What a sluggish stream! He closed his eyes in order to fix his last thoughts upon his wife and children. The water, touched to gold by the early sun,  occurrence at Wallaby Creek bridge in the midst of life the brooding mists under the banks at some distance down the stream, the Railway station, the men, the piece of drift—all had distracted him. And now he became conscious of a new disturbance. Striking through the thought of his dear ones was a sound which he could neither ignore nor understand, a sharp, distinct, metallic percussion like the stroke of a blacksmith’s hammer upon the anvil; it had the same ringing quality. He wondered what it was, and whether immeasurably distant or near by—it seemed both. Its recurrence was regular, but as slow as the tolling of a death knell.

He awaited each new stroke with impatience and—he knew not why—apprehension. The intervals of silence grew progressively longer; the delays became maddening. With their greater infrequency the sounds increased in strength and sharpness. They hurt his ear like the trust of a knife; he feared he would shriek. What he heard was the ticking of his watch. He unclosed his eyes and saw again the water below him. “If I could free my hands,” he thought, “I might loosen the tie and spring into the stream. By diving I could evade the bullets and, swimming vigorously, reach the bank, take to the woods and get away home. My home, thank God, is as yet outside their lines; my wife and little ones are still beyond the invader’s farthest advance.” As these thoughts, which have here to be set down in words, were flashed into the doomed man’s brain rather than evolved from it the senior Constable  nodded to the sergeant. The sergeant stepped aside.

Edward Whitney was a well-to-do planter, of an old and highly respected Queensland family. Being a Tabaco owner and like other Tabaco owners a politician he was naturally an original secessionist and ardently devoted to the One Nation cause. Circumstances of an imperious nature, which it is unnecessary to relate here, had prevented him from taking service with the gallant army which had fought the disastrous campaigns ending with the fall of Corinth, and he chafed under the inglorious restraint, longing for the release of his energies, the larger life of the soldier, the opportunity for distinction. That opportunity,

he felt, would come, as it comes to all in war time. Meanwhile he did what he could. No service was too humble for him to perform in the aid of the One Nation, no adventure too perilous for him to undertake if consistent with the character of a civilian who was at heart a soldier, and who in good faith and without too much qualification assented to at least a part of the frankly villainous dictum that all is fair in love and war. One evening while Whitney and his wife Ruth were sitting on a rustic bench near the entrance to his grounds, a Jeans and T-Shirt-clad young man rode up to the gate and asked for a drink of water. Mrs. Whitney was only too happy to serve him with her own white hands. While she was fetching the water her husband approached the dusty horseman and inquired eagerly for news from Brisbane. “The Railroad Fettlers  are repairing the railroads,” said the man, “and are getting ready for a lot more work.

They have reached the Wallaby Creek bridge, put it in order and built a small Hut on the north bank. The “Brass” has issued an order, which is posted everywhere, declaring that any Person caught interfering with the railroad, its bridges, tunnels, or trains will be summarily Prosecuted. I saw the order.” “How far is it to the Wallaby Creek bridge?” Whitney asked. “About thirty miles.” “Is there anybody on this side the creek?” “Only a Fettler half a mile out, on the railroad, and a single Bloke at this end of the bridge.” I was there a month ago,” he replied. “I observed that the flood of last winter had lodged a great quantity of driftwood against the wooden pier at this end of the bridge. It is now dry and would burn like tow.” The lady had now brought the water, which the young man drank. He thanked her ceremoniously, bowed to her husband and rode away. An hour later, after nightfall, he repassed the Farm, going northward in the direction from which he had come. He was a Federal Detective.

As Edward Whitney fell straight downward through the bridge he lost consciousness and was as one already dead. From this state he was awakened—ages later, it seemed to him—by the pain of a sharp pressure upon his throat, followed by a sense of suffocation. Keen, poignant agonies seemed to shoot from his neck downward through every fibre of his body and limbs. These pains appeared to flash along well defined lines of ramification and to beat with an inconceivably rapid periodicity. They seemed like streams of pulsating fire heating him to an intolerable temperature. As to his head, he was conscious of nothing but a feeling of fullness—of congestion. These sensations were unaccompanied by thought. The intellectual part of his nature was already effaced; he had power only to feel, and feeling was torment.

He was conscious of motion. Encompassed in a luminous cloud, of which he was now merely the fiery heart, without material substance, he swung through unthinkable arcs of oscillation, like a vast pendulum. Then all at once, with terrible suddenness, the light about him shot upward with the noise of a loud plash; a frightful roaring was in his ears, and all was cold and dark. The power of thought was restored; he knew that the Wooden Bridge had broken and he had fallen into the stream. There was no additional strangulation; the Tie around his neck was already suffocating him and kept the water from his lungs. To die of strangulation at the bottom of a river!—the idea seemed to him ludicrous. He opened his eyes in the darkness and saw above him a gleam of light, but how distant, how inaccessible!

He was still sinking, for the light became fainter and fainter until it was a mere glimmer. Then it began to grow and brighten, and he knew that he was rising toward the surface—knew it with reluctance, for he was now very comfortable. “To be strangled and drowned,” he thought, “that is not so bad; but I do not wish to be die. No; I will not die; that is not fair.” He was not conscious of an effort, but a sharp pain in his wrist apprised him that he was trying to free his hands. He gave the struggle his attention, as an idler might observe the feat of a juggler, without interest in the outcome. What splendid effort!—what magnificent, what superhuman strength!

 Ah, that  was a fine Endeavor! Bravo! The Tie fell away; his arms parted and floated upward, the hands dimly seen on each side in the growing light. He watched them with a new interest as first one and then the other pounced upon the Tie around his neck. They tore it away and thrust it fiercely aside, its undulations resembling those of a water snake. “Put it back, put it back!” He thought he shouted these words to his hands, for the undoing of the noose had been succeeded by the direst pang that he had yet experienced. His neck ached horribly; his brain was on fire, his heart, which had been fluttering faintly, gave a great leap, trying to force itself out at his mouth. His whole body was racked and wrenched with an insupportable anguish!

 But his disobedient hands gave no heed to the command. They beat the water vigorously with quick, downward strokes, forcing him to the surface. He felt his head emerge; his eyes were blinded by the sunlight; his chest expanded convulsively, and with a supreme and crowning agony his lungs engulfed a great draught of air, which instantly he expelled in a shriek! He was now in full possession of his physical senses. They were, indeed, preternaturally keen and alert. Something in the awful disturbance of his organic system had so exalted and refined them that they made record of things never before perceived. He felt the ripples upon his face and heard their separate sounds as they struck. He looked at the forest on the bank of the stream, saw the individual trees, the leaves and the veining of each leaf—he saw the very insects upon them: the locusts, the brilliant-bodied flies, the gray spiders stretching their webs from twig to twig. He noted the prismatic colors in all the dewdrops upon a million blades of grass.

The humming of the gnats that danced above the eddies of the stream, the beating of the dragon-flies’ wings, the strokes of the water spiders’ legs, like oars which had lifted their boat—all these made audible music. A fish slid along beneath his eyes and he heard the rush of its body parting the water. He had come to the surface facing down the stream; in a moment the visible world seemed to wheel slowly round, himself the pivotal point, and he saw the bridge, the Railway Station, the men upon the bridge, the senior Constable , the sergeant, and the two men, he had seen earlier in the Day. They were in silhouette against the blue sky. They shouted and gesticulated, pointing at him.  

The man in the water saw the eye of the man on the bridge gazing into his own through the sights of the rifle. He observed that it was a grey eye and remembered having read that grey eyes were keenest, and that all famous marksmen had them. Nevertheless, this one was just staring at him. A counter-swirl had caught Whitney and turned him half round; he was again looking into the forest on the bank opposite the Railway Station. The sound of a clear, high voice in a monotonous singsong now rang out behind him and came across the water with a distinctness that pierced and subdued all other sounds, even the beating of the ripples in his ears.. How coldly and pitilessly—with what an even, calm intonation, presaging, and enforcing tranquillity in the men—with what accurately measured interval fell those kind words: “Get that man out of the water”!  Whitney went under again, for he never learned to swim, dived—dived as deeply as the River would take him. The water roared in his ears like the voice of Niagara, yet he heard the dulled thunder of the volley and, rising again toward the surface, saw men swimming towards him. As he rose to the surface, gasping for breath, he saw that he had been a long time under water; he was perceptibly farther downstream—nearer to safety.

he was now floating vigorously with the current. His brain was as energetic as his arms and legs; he thought with the rapidity of lightning. God help me, I cannot go on much longer. An appalling plash which stirred the very river to its deeps! A rising sheet of water curved over him, fell down upon him, blinded him, strangled him! The water, the banks, the forests, the now distant bridge, Railway Station and men—all were commingled and blurred. Objects were represented by their colours only; circular horizontal streaks of colour—that was all he saw. He had been caught in a vortex and was being whirled on with a velocity of advance and gyration that made him giddy and sick. In a few moments he was flung upon the gravel at the foot of the left bank of the stream—the southern bank—and behind a projecting point which concealed him from the men that were searching for him. The sudden arrest of his motion, the abrasion of one of his hands on the gravel, restored him, and he wept with delight. He dug his fingers into the sand, threw it over himself in handfuls and audibly blessed it. It looked like diamonds, rubies, emeralds; he could think of nothing beautiful which it did not resemble.

The trees upon the bank were giant garden plants; he noted a definite order in  occurrence at Wallaby Creek bridge in the midst of life their arrangement, inhaled the fragrance of their blooms. A strange roseate light shone through the spaces among their trunks and the wind made in their branches the music of aeolian harps. He had no wish to perfect his escape—was content to remain in that enchanting spot until retaken. He sprang to his feet, rushed up the sloping bank, and plunged into the bush. All that day he travelled, laying his course by the rounding sun. The forest seemed interminable; nowhere did he discover a break in it, not even an old wagon track.  He had not known that he lived in so wild a region. There was something uncanny in the revelation. By nightfall he was fatigued, footsore, famishing. The thought of his wife and children urged him on. At last he found a road which led him in what he knew to be the right direction. It was as wide and straight as a city street, yet it seemed untraveled. No fields bordered it, no buildings anywhere. Not so much as the barking of a dog suggested human habitation.

The black bodies of the trees formed a straight wall on both sides, terminating on the horizon in a point, like a diagram in a lesson in perspective. Overhead, as he looked up through this rift in the wood, shone great golden stars looking unfamiliar and grouped in strange constellations. He was sure they were arranged in some order which had a secret and malign significance. The wood on either side was full of singular noises, among which— once, twice, and again—he distinctly heard whispers in an unknown tongue. His neck was in pain and lifting his hand to it found it horribly swollen. He knew that it had a circle of black where the tie had bruised it. His eyes felt congested; he could no longer close them. His tongue was swollen with thirst; he relieved its fever by thrusting it forward from between his teeth into the cold air. How softly the turf had carpeted the untraveled avenue—he could no longer feel the roadway beneath his feet! Doubtless, despite his suffering, he had fallen asleep while walking, for now he sees another scene—perhaps he has merely recovered from a delirium. He stands at the gate of his own home.

All is as he left it, and all bright and beautiful in the morning sunshine. He must have travelled the entire night. As he pushes open the gate and passes up the wide white walk, he sees a flutter of female garments; his wife, looking fresh and cool and sweet, steps down from the veranda to meet him. At the bottom of the steps she stands waiting, with a smile of ineffable joy, an attitude of matchless grace and dignity. Ah, how beautiful she is! He springs forwards with extended arms. As he is about to clasp her he feels a stunning blow upon the back of the neck; a blinding white light blazes all about him with a sound like the shock of a cannon—then all is darkness and silence! Edward Whitney was dead; his body, with a broken neck, swung gently from side to side beneath the timbers of the Wallaby Creek bridge. His Tie had been caught by one of the many rusted nails!!

1950 Australian National Airways Douglas DC-4 crash

Douglas DC-4 Amana crash

The Douglas DC-4 Amana, the aircraft destroyed in the accident.
Date26 June 1950
SummaryMultiple engine failure
Site19 km north-west of York, Western Australia
31.821°S 116.581°ECoordinates31.821°S 116.581°E
Aircraft typeDouglas DC-4
Aircraft nameAmana
OperatorAustralian National Airways
Flight originPerth Airport
DestinationAdelaide Airport

On 26 June 1950, a Douglas DC-4[GR1]  Skymaster aircraft departed from Perth, Western Australia for an eight-hour flight to Adelaide, South Australia. It crashed 22 minutes after take-off, 35 miles (56 km) East from Perth Airport. All 29 occupants were killed in the accident; one initially survived, but died six days later. It was the worst civil aviation accident in Australia.

As the aircraft flew eastwards over the outer suburbs of Perth numerous witnesses observed that it was flying at a lower altitude than usual for the daily Skymaster services, and at least one of the engines was running roughly and backfiring at regular intervals. In the minutes before it crashed, witnesses heard a number of different engine noises – sometimes operating normally, sometimes all engine noise ceased, only to be replaced by what was described as a very loud, high-pitched “scream”. When the wrecked engines were examined many weeks after the accident a significant amount of corrosion product was found in the fuel system within two of the engines. After a preliminary investigation, Investigators from the Department of Civil Aviation [GR2] believed the water responsible for the corrosion was also responsible for rough running of at least one engine, and ultimately temporary loss of power from all engines on at least one occasion. The Investigators did not find a likely source for the water.

All but one of the 29 occupants on board the aircraft died, either from multiple injuries and burns, or from incineration. One elderly male passenger survived the crash. The first rescuers at the crash site found him wandering about, dazed and distressed. He suffered serious burns and was admitted to hospital where he died six days later.

The accident became the subject of an Inquiry chaired by a Supreme Court judge. In the absence of evidence indicating the source of any water in the fuel, the Inquiry dismissed the submission that water was responsible for the accident. The Inquiry did not determine the cause of the accident but it made recommendations to enhance the safety of aircraft operations.

The flight

The aircraft was the Amana, a Douglas DC-4-1009 registered VH-ANA[GR3]  and the flagship of the Australian National Airways fleet. It flew for the first time on 28 January 1946 and was flown to Australia on 9 February 1946.

The Amana departed from Perth Airport at 9:55 pm for the 8-hour flight to Adelaide. On board were 24 passengers, 3 pilots and two air hostesses.

A radio report was received from the Amana at 10:00 pm advising it was on course and climbing to 9,000 feet. Nothing more was heard from the aircraft. As it flew east over the outer suburbs of Perth numerous people on the ground observed that it was flying unusually low, and heard at least one of its engines running roughly and backfiring repeatedly. Amana crashed at about 10:13 pm.


The debris field

A number of residents on farming properties to the west of York heard a large aircraft flying low over the area. The aircraft seemed to be in trouble because the noise from the engines was changing significantly. At times the engines seemed to be operating normally but on at least one occasion all engine noise ceased for a brief time and then returned as a very loud, high-pitched noise. One resident reported that when all engine noise ceased he could hear a rushing sound until the scream from the engines returned. Several residents reported seeing a bright flash of white light in the distance, followed by a loud crashing and scraping noise. Those closest to the crash could then see the yellow glow of a major fire.

Ten minutes after the Amana set course for Adelaide, a Douglas DC-4 operated by Trans Australia Airlines[GR4]  became airborne at Perth, also heading for Adelaide. As the TAA aircraft set course for Adelaide, the captain, Douglas MacDonald, saw a vivid white flash on the horizon in precisely the direction in which he was heading. It lasted about six seconds, long enough for him to draw it to the attention of the two other crew members. Eight minutes later, the TAA aircraft passed over a band of fire on the ground. MacDonald estimated the fire was 28 nautical miles (52 km) east of Perth Airport. As MacDonald approached Cunderdin, he was aware the Amana, flying about ten minutes ahead of him, had not yet radioed its position report at Cunderdin. He became concerned that the vivid white flash and the ground fire might indicate some tragedy had befallen the Amana so he advised Air Traffic Control about his observations. Air Traffic Control was also concerned about the Amana’s failure to report at Cunderdin so on hearing MacDonald’s observations of the vivid white flash and the ground fire they activated emergency procedures. They asked MacDonald to fly back to the fire and determine its position. MacDonald did so and advised Air Traffic Control of bearings from the fire to York and Northam, the towns nearest the crash site.

Search and rescue

Frank McNamara (62), an apiarist, and Geoff Inkpen (25), a young farmer, heard the sound of a big aircraft in serious trouble, flying low nearby. McNamara described the noise from the engines as “terrifying”. They investigated and saw the bright light of a flash fire. McNamara sent his two teenage sons in his utility truck to York to alert the police. McNamara and Inkpen then set out on foot in the direction of the fire. As there was bright moonlight, they were able to hurry through the bush. After about half an hour, they came upon a scene of devastation. They were astonished to find an elderly man in a dazed state wandering around the burning wreckage. He gave his name and explained that he had been a passenger on a large aircraft. He had survived the crash despite being badly burned. No one else was found alive.

In response to notification from Air Traffic Control, three ambulances from Perth were dispatched in the direction of the crash site, known to be somewhere between Chidlow[GR5]  and York. The crash site was several miles from the road so the ambulance crews travelled eastwards all the way to York without sighting a fire. The crews were eventually guided back along the main road and then along a dirt road that enabled them to drive to within three or four miles of the crash site. The crews then took their first-aid boxes and set out on foot.

Frank McNamara made a bed of leaves for the survivor and built a fire to help keep him as warm and comfortable as possible. McNamara stayed with the survivor while Inkpen went to summon help. After several hours, ambulance crews arrived and administered first-aid and morphia. Rescue workers constructed a stretcher using saplings, bandages and overcoats. They covered the survivor with an overcoat and carried him for two hours to cover about two miles through thickly wooded country to McNamara’s utility truck, which then carried him and his rescuers to a waiting ambulance.

Frank McNamara and Geoff Inkpen were publicly thanked by the Minister for Civil Aviation for the great assistance they rendered to the rescue effort throughout the night. In a public letter to Frank McNamara, the minister acknowledged the unrelenting effort of McNamara and his sons under extremely difficult conditions. He also acknowledged McNamara’s care of the survivor and regretted that McNamara was not rewarded by seeing the survivor recover. In a public letter to Geoff Inkpen, the Minister expressed his deep appreciation for Inkpen’s actions on the night of the crash. During World War II, Inkpen had served in the Royal Australian Air Force[GR6]  (RAAF) as a navigator and the minister acknowledged that, in peacetime, Inkpen had continued to uphold “the fine traditions” of the RAAF.

Fate of those onboard

The sole survivor was the 67-year-old Managing-Director of Forwood Down and Company Ltd., a South Australian engineering company. He was the oldest person on board the flight, and probably the most experienced air traveler. He was interviewed by police in hospital in Perth, but was not aware of much detail about the final minutes of the flight. He said there was no sign of fire prior to the crash and no announcement to passengers to fasten their seat belts. He died six days after the crash and was buried at the North Road cemetery in Adelaide, his home town.

Investigators believed the aircraft captain survived for a short time after the crash. His body was a short distance away from his seat and both were a few metres ahead of the wreckage where they had been thrown after the nose of the aircraft was split open in the impact with a large tree. The seat belt had not broken, but it had been undone. The captain’s tunic was pulled up over his head as though to protect his face from the heat of the nearby inferno. Investigators believed he survived the crash and undid his seat belt to drag himself away from the fire. His body was not burnt, but autopsy showed both his legs were broken and he died from a fractured skull.

Postmortem examinations were performed on the 28 victims of the crash. The two co-pilots died from multiple injuries. Twenty-three passengers and the two air hostesses were found to have died from multiple injuries and burns, or incineration. Only 12 of the 28 victims could be formally identified. The remaining 16 victims were either unrecognizable or unable to be identified and were buried in a mass grave at Perth’s Karrakatta cemetery.


On its fatal flight the Amana was carrying 24 passengers, including 2 infants. All but one died in the crash or the ensuing inferno.


Part of the Amana’s fuselage

One of the Amana’s engines

The wreckage burned for several hours

Western Australian police examining the still-burning wreckage

Three investigators from the Department of Civil Aviation began work at the crash scene the day after the accident. They found the Amana had crashed in a heavily timbered area on the Inkpen family property Berry Brow, on the easterly track between Perth airport and Kalgoorlie, at a point where the elevation was about 1,100 feet (340 m) above sea level. The aircraft struck the tops of tall gum trees while descending at an angle of about 15° below horizontal. Its speed at impact was estimated at 250 miles per hour (400 km/h). It crashed through large trees, breaking them off as if they were matchsticks, before impacting the ground violently and gouging a long, wide furrow. The left wing was torn away from the fuselage and then the aircraft broke up and burst into flames. Only the rear fuselage with the fin and rudder were not affected by fire. The wreckage trail was about 280 yards (260 m) long and 35 yards (32 m) wide. At the time of impact the Amana’s left wing was lower than its right, suggesting it may have been turning left. It was heading north, not east towards Cunderdin. Investigators speculated that the crew may have been turning with the intention of returning to Perth airport; or they may have been preparing for a crash-landing in a large clear area to the north of the crash site.

Possibly as a result of rough-running of one or more of its engines, the Amana was observed flying over Perth’s outer-eastern suburbs at an unusually low altitude. No witness report was received from anyone along the next 16 nautical miles (30 km) of the Amana’s track from Perth’s outer suburbs to within 5 nautical miles (9 km) of the crash site. In the minute before it crashed, eight witnesses heard a large airplane in distress and reported unusual engine noise, including engine noise ceasing on at least one occasion, followed by the sudden return of very loud engine noise. This suggested that, on at least one occasion, none of the engines were producing power, followed by a resumption of power on some of the engines. The investigation team concluded that the Amana failed to reach its assigned altitude of 9,000 feet, and that it experienced intermittent engine problems of such severity that all engine power was lost on at least one occasion. Without power and with only one of its propellers feathered[GR7] , a Douglas DC-4 loses altitude at a great rate, possibly as fast as 100 feet per second (6,000 feet per minute).

Engines and propellers numbers 1 to 3 suffered substantial damage in the crash, but engine and propeller number 4 suffered much less damage. The investigators determined that at the time of impact, propellers 1, 2 and 3 were turning normally and their engines were producing power but propeller number 4 was feathered and its engine was not operating. There was also some evidence that action was taken by the crew to unfeather propeller number 4 in the moments before impact. None of the engines contained evidence of any internal failure prior to impact. All the magnetos were tested and the results indicated normal ignition was available to all engines up to the time of impact.

Engine number 4 suffered only minor, external damage. It was dismantled by the investigation team in an attempt to determine why it might have been shut down by the crew. A substantial amount of corrosion product was found in the passages of the fuel flow meter on engine number 4. Western Australia’s Deputy Mineralogist identified the corrosion product as magnesium hydroxide[GR8] . This is a corrosion product formed by reaction of magnesium and water, suggesting the fuel passages had been filled with water in the months between the crash and the detailed examination of the engine. Charles Gibbs, an engine specialist employed by the Department of Civil Aviation, estimated at least 45 cubic centimeters of water must have been involved. Rain falling on the crash site before engine number 4 was removed could not account for this much water in the fuel passages. Gibbs first examined the fuel system of engine number 4 and discovered the corrosion about two months after the accident. He conducted a test on an identical flow meter and found that after he left water in the fuel flow passages for approximately 8 weeks a similar amount of corrosion product developed. This suggested the rough running heard by witnesses on the ground may have been caused by water in the fuel reaching engine number 4. The steel rotor in the fuel pump of engine number 1 was slightly corroded but the fuel systems of engines 2 and 3 showed no evidence of corrosion. Investigators formed the opinion that the rough running heard by witnesses on the ground, and the crew’s decision to shut down engine number 4 and feather its propeller, may have been related to water in the fuel reaching that engine. Similarly, the intermittent loss of power on all engines in the final minutes of the flight may indicate that all engines were receiving fuel contaminated with water.

The only abnormality found in all four engines was the vapor vent float in the fuel strainer chamber of the carburetors. The floats had been crushed by extreme fuel pressure. Inquiries were made to the engine manufacturer and other civil aviation authorities but none had prior experience of vapour vent floats collapsing. Tests on carburetors were also carried out in Australia by the Aeronautical Research Laboratories but without finding any suitable explanation. Whether the floats were crushed in flight or in the crash could not be determined, but even if it had occurred in flight it would not have affected operation of the engines.

The earliest reports from the crash site speculated that the Amana was already on fire when it struck the tops of trees because those trees, and pieces of the aircraft’s left wing torn off in the impact with them, showed signs of scorching. Several eyewitnesses reported seeing flames in the sky before the aircraft struck the ground. Department of Civil Aviation investigators discounted this speculation because only one of the Amana’s push-button engine fire extinguishers had activated and this had most likely occurred during the crash or the fire.

Australian National Airways (ANA) ground staff in Sydney checked the Amana’s fuel tanks for the presence of water prior to its first departure on 26 June. They found none. The Amana was subsequently re-fueled in Melbourne and Adelaide but no check of the fuel tanks was made on these occasions. After being re-fueled in Perth immediately prior to the fatal flight, the fuel filters in all 4 engines and the fuel drain serving the cross-feed pipe in the wing centre-section were all checked for the presence of water. The fuel tanks themselves were not checked, partly because, on the night of 26 June, the ground staff were “pressed for time” because one despatch engineer was absent due to illness.

ANA was of the opinion that if a small amount of water entered a fuel tank during refuelling it would only reach the drain cocks when the aircraft was in level flight so it could not be detected immediately after re-fuelling. For 15 years ANA had operated in the knowledge that the only satisfactory time to check fuel tanks for the presence of water was prior to the first flight of the day, after the aircraft had been stationary overnight. Throughout this time ANA checked fuel tanks for the presence of water prior to the first flight of the day.

Prior to its final flight, the Amana received 1,756 US gallons (6,650 L) of fuel from a tanker operated by the Vacuum Oil Company. The tanker had been checked for the presence of water in the morning and again at 6:30 pm, about 2 hours prior to re-fuelling the Amana. It had also supplied fuel to 3 de Havilland Dove aircraft, none of which suffered any engine problems or were found to have water in the fuel.

The Department of Civil Aviation performed tests on parts of the DC-4 fuel system. Tests on the engine fuel system showed that when the engine boost pump was operating, vortex[GR9]  formed in the engine fuel tank. If a small amount of water was present, this vortex held the water in suspension and prevented it from entering the engine. The tests also showed that when the boost pump was turned off, the vortex dissipated and any water would soon find its way into the engine. Investigators believed this might explain why all engines were operating normally during the takeoff but at least one engine began to run roughly around the time the engine boost pumps would be turned off.


The Minister for Civil Aviation, Thomas White, appointed Justice William Simpson of the ACT Supreme Court to conduct an Air Court of Inquiry into the crash of the Amana. The Inquiry opened in Perth on 7 February 1951. Justice Simpson was assisted by two assessors – Captain J.W. Bennett, a pilot with British Commonwealth Pacific Airlines; and Mr D.B. Hudson, an aeronautical engineer with Qantas Empire Airways. The Commonwealth Crown Solicitor was represented by L.D. Seaton and B. Simpson. Australian National Airways was represented by George Pape. The Department of Civil Aviation was represented by Henry Winneke. The Air Pilots’ Association was represented by Francis Burt. The Inquiry sat in Perth for 12 days; heard evidence from 67 witnesses and concluded on Tuesday 20 February.

Western Australia’s Deputy Mineralogist gave evidence that he had identified magnesium hydroxide, a corrosion product, in fuel passages in one of Amana’s engines. Counsel for the Department of Civil Aviation explained that evidence gathered during investigation of the crash indicated water in some of the fuel on board Amana was responsible for the corrosion products found in engines numbers 1 and 4; for the rough running of an engine heard by a number of witnesses; and for the intermittent failure of all engines, leading to the aircraft descending to ground level. The Inquiry heard evidence from the Department of Civil Aviation’s Acting Chief Inspector of Air Accidents, C.A.J. Lum, a former RAAF Douglas Dakota pilot, who described his personal experience of a flight in 1946 in which all fuel tanks were checked for the presence of water prior to take-off and the flight proceeded normally for 20 minutes until both engines began running roughly. Lum returned to the aerodrome and checked again for water in the tanks, this time finding a significant amount of water. Counsel for the Vacuum Oil Co. explained that it was almost impossible for water to be introduced to an aircraft during refuelling, and vigorously rejected the theory that water in the fuel contributed to the crash.

Counsel for the Commonwealth Crown Solicitor presented evidence that the Amana was on fire before it first struck trees. Counsel for the widow of one of the victims suggested the crash may have been caused by the elevator trim tab [GR10] jamming in the diving position.

In April 1951 Justice Simpson advised the Minister for Civil Aviation that new evidence had become available. The Minister gave permission for the Inquiry to be re-opened. The Inquiry re-opened in Melbourne on 4 June 1951. The Department of Civil Aviation had recently completed tests on the DC-4 fuel system. The tests showed that when an engine boost pump was operating, a vortex in the engine fuel tank prevented water from entering the engine. The tests also showed that when the boost pump was turned off, any water would soon find its way into the engine. The Department of Civil Aviation believed this might explain why all engines were operating normally during the takeoff but at least one engine began to run roughly around the time the engine boost pumps would be turned off. However, Justice Simpson stated that the re-opened Inquiry served only to confirm his view that the Amana’s loss of power was not due to water in the fuel.

Justice Simpson’s report was tabled in the House of Representatives on 28 June 1951 by the new Minister for Civil Aviation, Larry Anthony. The Inquiry found that the Amana suffered total loss of engine power on at least one occasion, followed by rapid loss of height until it struck the ground. However, the evidence did not allow the court to determine the cause of the total loss of engine power. Consequently, the court was unable to determine the cause of the accident. Simpson stated he was satisfied water had not been introduced into the Amana’s fuel system in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide or Perth.

The Inquiry uncovered two deviations from the Air Navigation Regulations although it did not consider these deviations contributed to the accident:

  1. ANA was not in the practice of performing a fuel-drain check immediately after each re-fuelling, as required by Air Navigation Orders.
  2. On the fatal flight, 8,545 feet of photographic film were carried as cargo. Air Navigation Orders specified that a maximum of 3,000 feet of photographic film may be carried.

The Inquiry also uncovered three irregularities in the safety regulation of civil aviation in Australia although none of these irregularities contributed to the accident. Justice Simpson’s report contained recommendations to deal with the irregularities:

  1. fuel companies that supply fuel to aircraft should be required to check every compartment in a tanker wagon for the presence of water each time fuel in the tanker wagon is replenished.
  2. when fuel was being drained from an aircraft’s tanks to check for the presence of impurities, the sample should be collected in a transparent vessel to allow more reliable identification of any water that might be present.
  3. when pilots who regularly fly four-engine aeroplanes perform 6-monthly checks for renewal of their commercial pilot licenses, the check should be carried out in a four-engine airplane rather than in a two-engine airplane as was the common practice.

During the House of Representatives debate on the report, the Minister, Larry Anthony, stated that he had already asked fuel companies to check their tanker wagons for the presence of water after each replenishment, and the relevant Air Navigation Order would be amended to require fuel to be drained into transparent containers. He stated that his Department did not intend to amend the relevant Air Navigation Order to require pilots of four-engine aeroplanes to perform the periodic checks in a four-engine airplane because it considered it was more challenging to fly with one engine inoperative in a two-engine airplane than in a four-engine airplane.

Subsequent speculation about cause of the crash

Investigators from the Department of Civil Aviation believed water in some of the fuel tanks of VH-ANA was responsible for rough running of one or more of the engines; and this ultimately led to intermittent failure of all the engines. The Inquiry led by Mr Justice Simpson found no evidence that there was significant water in the fuel tanks. No radio call was received from Amana to indicate the nature of any problem, or even that the crew was aware of a problem. The Inquiry concluded without determining the cause of the crash.

In the weeks and months after conclusion of the Inquiry one possible explanation of the crash began to circulate among employees of ANA. This possibility began with one piece of evidence uncovered by the Inquiry during cross-examination of ANA’s ground staff. It was reported that after sunrise the morning after the crash the one-gallon container used to check Amana’s fuel filters was found empty and lying on its side on the apron a short distance from where Amana had been parked. The Inquiry attached no significance to this evidence and did not explore it further.

Employees of ANA believed the container had last been used to drain fuel from the cross-feed drain cock, the fuel cock that serves the pipe in the wing centre-section for cross-feeding of fuel from tanks in one wing to engines in the other wing. Moments after this procedure commenced, the staff member was advised of a telephone call from his wife and he went to answer the telephone. With the cross-feed selector valves closed, little fuel ran out when the drain cock was opened. Some employees believed that because no fuel was running out neither the staff member nor anyone else noticed the drain cock was still open. Due either to the wind or the slipstream from Amana’s propellers as it began to taxi prior to take-off, the almost-empty container was blown over and rolled some distance along the apron where it was found the next morning.

Some employees of ANA speculated that approximately ten minutes after take-off the crew of Amana were aware of the seriousness of rough running on number 4 engine so decided to shut it down. Company procedures specified that if an operational problem occurred prior to reaching Kalgoorlie[GR11] , 290 nautical miles (540 km) east of Perth, the aircraft was to return to Perth; but if a problem occurred after reaching Kalgoorlie the flight could continue to Adelaide. The Douglas DC-4 was capable of flying from Perth to Adelaide with one engine inoperative. The crew of Amana on the fatal flight might have decided to wait until past Kalgoorlie before making a radio call to report one engine had been shut down, and then continue to Adelaide. To manage fuel usage and balance the weight of fuel across the wing, the crew might have selected some of the operating engines to draw fuel from number 4 tank. The DC-4 had a complex fuel selection system and, either deliberately or inadvertently, all operating engines might have been connected to number 4 tank. If the drain cock in the cross-feed pipe was still open to the atmosphere, air would be drawn into the pipe, causing an interruption of fuel supply to the engines, all engines to stop operating and their propellers to move to fine pitch. When the crew realized engines 1, 2 and 3 had all suddenly failed and that cross-feeding of fuel was the source of the problem they would have changed the fuel selections and restored fuel to the engines, causing the sudden screaming noise heard by witnesses as the engines burst back into life with their propellers in fine pitch. Amana had been flying at lower altitude than usual so there was inadequate height for the crew to arrest the high rate of descent before the aircraft struck high ground on the Inkpen family property. (At the Air Court of Inquiry, George Pape, representing ANA, described as “fantastic” any suggestion that the crew of the Amana would be cross-feeding fuel from one wing to the engines on the other wing at such an early stage of the flight.)

The Flight Superintendent and the Technical Superintendent of ANA simulated some of these events during a test flight in another DC-4. They were satisfied that the time intervals between events were compatible with the likely sequence of events leading to the crash of the Amana, and that it was a plausible explanation of the accident. However, on legal advice this possible explanation of the crash was not made public. Two accidents involving Douglas DC-4s, one approaching Dublin Airport, Ireland, in 1961 and another approaching Stockport Airport, Manchester, United Kingdom, in 1967 were attributed to interruption of fuel supply when engines were supplied from the cross-feed system which was open to an empty fuel tank, allowing air to be drawn into the cross-feed pipe.

Recent archaeological finds and re-evaluation of Amana’s final moments[GR12] 

Around 2002 further wreckage from Amana’s port wing outboard of the engines was investigated about 1.5 miles from the crash site. This wreckage had not been located during the 1951 investigation, although it had subsequently been located during farming operations and shifted to a barren area where it avoided significant subsequent degradation by grass fires. It suggests that having attained substantially level flight, Amana hit one or more trees several seconds before reaching its final impact site, causing sufficient damage to result in the in-flight fire observed by witnesses at the time, and a deviation from its original flight path. Part of this wreckage is now on display at The Civil Aviation Historical Society & Airways Museum at Essendon Airport.

A high-speed impact on part of the wing and fuel system might explain a surge in fuel pressure sufficient to cause the crushed vapour vent float found in the carburetor of each of Amana’s engines.


After the accident, souvenir hunters proved to be such a problem that the owners of Berry Brow kept all gates locked. Geoff Inkpen stated that after completion of an Inquiry a bulldozer would be used to dig a ditch at the crash site and what remained of the Amana would be buried.

A small memorial to the loss of the Amana, its passengers and crew, has been created in the aeronautical museum in the town of Beverley, 29 miles (47 km) south-east of the crash site. The memorial includes the nose undercarriage from the Amana. A memorial plaque was erected in the main street of Beverley on 26 June 2001, the fifty-first anniversary of the crash.


Australian National Airways (ANA) never fully recovered from the crash of the Amana. Since the beginning of 1945, 77 people had been killed in accidents in aircraft operated by ANA. In late 1948, ANA suffered 4 crashes in 4 months. The loss of ANA’s reputation as a safe airline, together with the unblemished safety record and growing commercial success of its rival Trans Australia Airlines, sent ANA into decline. In 1957 ANA was taken over by Ansett Transport Industries Limited and merged with Ansett Airways to form the domestic airline Ansett-ANA.

Amana Memorial


Photographs supplied by Father Ted Doncaster

The memorial and mass grave commemorate the victims of the Amana Plane Crash.

In June 1950 the Australian National Airways Skymaster Amana, the flagship of the company`s fleet, crashed into a wooded hillside northwest of York. Of the twenty-four passengers and five crew, only one man managed to get out alive. His name was Edgar W. Forwood, aged sixty-seven. Unfortunately, his condition steadily deteriorated and he died on Saturday of the same week. This crash is the worst aviation disaster in Western Australia’s history.

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This photo of the late forties shows the graceful ANA flagship VH-ANA Amana at Essendon Airport Melbourne. Not long after this picture was taken she would be smashed to pieces a long way from home.

On the 26 of June 1950 in Perth West Australia a typically fine and moonlit evening greeted the 24 passengers and 5 crew that boarded Amana for a scheduled flight to Adelaide and then on to Melbourne.

By 21:50 the DC 4 was taxiing for a departure off Perth Runway 29, the same strip, but opposite direction to that used by the R4D-5 Blue Goose five years earlier and unfortunately destined for a similar fate.

Looking down Guildfords (Perth) Runway 29 off which Amana departed.

Making a left turn to set heading overhead the Airport, Amana tracked due east towards her first waypoint Cunderdin. Unfortunately fate intervened less than 30 nautical miles later when the aircraft inexplicably crashed in the West Australian bush.

The port undercarriage leg from Amana, taken in 2001 lying under a tree near the crashsite

Witnesses that night from along the route taken by Amana reported rough running, backfiring and even periods of silence from the engines. The accident investigation team determined that earlier in the short flight, number four engine had been shut down by the flight crew and subsequently, the remaining three engines had all failed for indeterminate periods.
There was evidence that immediately prior to impact, number four engine had been un-feathered in an attempted restart, and that power had been restored to the other three. Additionally the aircraft had commenced a left turn apparently returning to Guildford. Unfortunately it was all too late to save VH-ANA. In the dark, in a 15 degree turn to port, the aircraft barely cleared a ridge line, struck a tree 30 feet off the ground and ploughed into a downward slope shredding itself and contents into small pieces as it went.

Notice where Amana sheared off the top of this tree immediately prior to impact with the ground.

It is difficult to imagine the magnitude of the forces that reduced this flap actuating mechanism to a single component of twisted stainless steel.

Above: Looking back in the direction of the impact tree (note the small piece of aluminium protruding from the ground). Below: Taken close to the initial impact site, looking in the direction of travel, 330 Magnetic. Despite years of cultivation you can still see small pieces of wreckage that litter the ground.

In the course of the accident something, possibly a fuel tank, has burned fiercely here; consequently nothing has grown on this spot in the ensuing years.

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 [GR1]The Douglas DC-4 is a four-engine (piston) propeller-driven airliner developed by the Douglas Aircraft Company. Military versions of the plane, the C-54 and R5D, served during World War II, in the Berlin Airlift and into the 1960s. From 1945, many civil airlines operated the DC-4 worldwide

 [GR2]Due to the inherent dangers in the use of flight vehicles, national aviation authorities typically regulate the following critical aspects of aircraft airworthiness and their operation:

  • design of aircraft, engines, airborne equipment and ground-based equipment affecting flight safety
  • conditions of manufacture and testing of aircraft and equipment
  • maintenance of aircraft and equipment
  • operation of aircraft and equipment
  • licensing of pilots, air traffic controllers, flight dispatchers and maintenance engineers
  • licensing of airports and navigational aids
  • standards for air traffic control.

Depending on the legal system of the jurisdiction, a NAA will derive its powers from an act of parliament (such as the Civil or Federal Aviation Act), and is then empowered to make regulations within the bounds of the act. This allows technical aspects of airworthiness to be dealt with by subject matter experts and not politicians.

An NAA may also be involved in the investigation of aircraft accidents, although in many cases this is left to a separate body (such as the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) in Australia or the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in the United States), to allow independent review of regulatory oversight.

An NAA will regulate the control of air traffic but a separate agency will generally carry out air traffic control functions.

In some countries an NAA may build and operate airports, including non-airside operations such as passenger terminals; the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines being among such national authorities. In other countries, private companies or local government authorities may own and operate individual airports.

 [GR3]An aircraft registration, alternatively called a tail number, is a code unique to a single aircraft, required by international convention to be marked on the exterior of every civil aircraft. The registration indicates the aircraft’s country of registration, and functions much like an automobile license plate or a ship registration. This code must also appear in its Certificate of Registration, issued by the relevant National Aviation Authority (NAA). An aircraft can only have one registration, in one jurisdiction, though it is changeable over the life of the aircraft.

 [GR4]Trans Australia Airlines (TAA), renamed Australian Airlines in 1986, was one of the two major Australian domestic airlines between its inception in 1946 and its merger with Qantas in September 1992. As a result of the “COBRA” (or Common Branding) project, the entire airline was rebranded Qantas about a year later with tickets stating in small print “Australian Airlines Limited trading as Qantas Airways Limited” until the adoption of a single Air Operator Certificate a few years later. At that point, the entire airline was officially renamed “Qantas Airways Limited” continuing the name and livery of the parent company with the only change being the change of by-line from “The Spirit of Australia” to “The Australian Airline” under the window line with the existing “Qantas” title appearing above.

 [GR5]The Chidlow townsite was originally known variously as Chidlow’s Flat, Chidlow’s Springs or Chidlow’s Well after a well and stockyard on the old Mahogany Creek to Northam road. The well was sunk by William Chidlow, a pioneer of the Northam district, who originally established the Northam road. Chidlow arrived in the Swan River Colony in 1831. Settlement began in 1883 when it became known that Chidlow’s Well was to be the terminus of the second section of the Eastern Railway, which was opened in March 1884. Chidlow’s Well railway station and townsite were renamed Chidlow in 1920.

 [GR6]The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) is the principal aerial warfare force of Australia, a part of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) along with the Royal Australian Navy and the Australian Army. The Air Force is commanded by the Chief of Air Force (CAF), who is subordinate to the Chief of the Defence Force (CDF). The CAF is also directly responsible to the Minister of Defence, with the Department of Defence administering the ADF and the Air Force.

Formed in March 1921, as the Australian Air Force, through the separation of the Australian Air Corps from the Army, which in turn amalgamated the separate aerial services of both the Army and Navy. It directly continues the traditions of the Australian Flying Corps (AFC), formed on 22 October 1912.

 [GR7]On most variable-pitch propellers, the blades can be rotated parallel to the airflow to stop rotation of the propeller and reduce drag when the engine fails or is deliberately shut down. This is called feathering, a term borrowed from rowing. On single-engined aircraft, whether a powered glider or turbine-powered aircraft, the effect is to increase the gliding distance. On a multi-engine aircraft, feathering the propeller on an inoperative engine reduces drag, and helps the aircraft maintain speed and altitude with the operative engines.

Most feathering systems for reciprocating engines sense a drop in oil pressure and move the blades toward the feather position, and require the pilot to pull the propeller control back to disengage the high-pitch stop pins before the engine reaches idle RPMTurboprop control systems usually utilize a negative torque sensor in the reduction gearbox which moves the blades toward feather when the engine is no longer providing power to the propeller. Depending on design, the pilot may have to push a button to override the high-pitch stops and complete the feathering process, or the feathering process may be totally automatic.

 [GR8]Magnesium hydroxide is the inorganic compound with the chemical formula Mg(OH)2. It occurs in nature as the mineral brucite. It is a white solid with low solubility in water (Ksp = 5.61×10−12). Magnesium hydroxide is a common component of antacids, such as milk of magnesia.

 [GR9]fluid dynamics, a vortex (plural vortices/vortexes) is a region in a fluid in which the flow revolves around an axis line, which may be straight or curved. Vortices form in stirred fluids, and may be observed in smoke ringswhirlpools in the wake of a boat, and the winds surrounding a tropical cyclonetornado or dust devil.

Vortices are a major component of turbulent flow. The distribution of velocity, vorticity (the curl of the flow velocity), as well as the concept of circulation are used to characterise vortices. In most vortices, the fluid flow velocity is greatest next to its axis and decreases in inverse proportion to the distance from the axis.

In the absence of external forces, viscous friction within the fluid tends to organise the flow into a collection of irrotational vortices, possibly superimposed to larger-scale flows, including larger-scale vortices. Once formed, vortices can move, stretch, twist, and interact in complex ways. A moving vortex carries some angular and linear momentum, energy, and mass, with it.

 [GR10]Trim tabs are small surfaces connected to the trailing edge of a larger control surface on a boat or aircraft, used to control the trim of the controls, i.e. to counteract hydro- or aerodynamic forces and stabilise the boat or aircraft in a particular desired attitude without the need for the operator to constantly apply a control force. This is done by adjusting the angle of the tab relative to the larger surface.

Changing the setting of a trim tab adjusts the neutral or resting position of a control surface (such as an elevator or rudder). As the desired position of a control surface changes (corresponding mainly to different speeds), an adjustable trim tab will allow the operator to reduce the manual force required to maintain that position—to zero, if used correctly. Thus the trim tab acts as a servo tab. Because the center of pressure of the trim tab is farther away from the axis of rotation of the control surface than the center of pressure of the control surface, the moment generated by the tab can match the moment generated by the control surface. The position of the control surface on its axis will change until the torques from the control surface and the trim surface balance each other.

 [GR11]Kalgoorlie is a city in the Goldfields–Esperance region of Western Australia, located 595 km (370 mi) east-northeast of Perth at the end of the Great Eastern Highway. It is sometimes referred to as Kalgoorlie–Boulder, as the surrounding urban area includes the historic townsite of Boulder and the local government area is the City of Kalgoorlie–Boulder.

Kalgoorlie-Boulder lies on the traditional lands of the Wangkatja group of peoples. The name “Kalgoorlie” is derived from the Wangai word Karlkurla or Kulgooluh, meaning “place of the silky pears“. The city was established in 1893 during the Western Australian gold rushes. It soon replaced Coolgardie as the largest settlement on the Eastern Goldfields. Kalgoorlie is the ultimate destination of the Goldfields Water Supply Scheme and the Golden Pipeline Heritage Trail. The nearby Super Pit gold mine was Australia’s largest open-cut gold mine for many years.

 [GR12]Essendon Fields Airport (IATAMEBICAOYMEN), colloquially known as Essendon Airport, is a 305 ha (750 acres) public airport serving scheduled commercial, corporate-jet, charter and general aviation flights. It is located next to the intersection of the Tullamarine and Calder Freeways, in the north western suburb of Essendon Fields of MelbourneVictoria, Australia. The airport is the closest to Melbourne’s City Centre, approximately a 13 km (8.1 mi) drive north-west from it and 8 km (5.0 mi) south-east from Melbourne Tullamarine Airport. In 1970, Tullamarine Airport replaced Essendon as Melbourne’s main airport.

The Story Of The Chernobyl Disaster And The Radioactive Ghost Town Of Pripyat It Left Behind

Copied, compiled & edited by George W Rehder

The Chernobyl disaster of April 26, 1986 in Pripyat, Ukraine remains the most catastrophic nuclear accident of the 20th century.

The Chernobyl disaster of April 25 and 26, 1986, was the most catastrophic nuclear accident of the 20th century. It has shaped and inspired nuclear policy, influenced environmentalist and activist groups, and left a direct, physiological impact on Pripyat, Ukraine and the Eastern European regions it contaminated.

The event happened due just as much to negligence as inevitability — with no fail-safes to prevent radiation from escaping in case of an accident, improperly trained personnel, and no enacted safety measures to ensure that those mistakes wouldn’t occur in the first place, the disaster was arguably lying in wait.

When a late-night safety test went awry and subsequent human error interfered with preventative measures, Chernobyl’s Reactor 4 became unmanageable. Water and steam merged together which lead to an explosion and a resulting open-air graphite fire. Two plant workers died that night and arguably suffered the least out of all those who eventually died from radiation or grew up with birth defects.

The Pripyat Amusement Park was set to open on May 1, 1986 — a week after the Chernobyl disaster.

Over the next few days, 134 servicemen involved with the clean-up in and around Pripyat were hospitalized, 28 died of acute radiation syndrome (ARS) in the following weeks, and 14 died of radiation-induced cancer within the next ten years. Indeed, the complete effects the disaster had on the health of the public in Pripyat and the surrounding area is still not totally known.

A simple miscalculation in safety measures during a late-night test quickly became the biggest nuclear disaster of the modern era. Brave souls on the ground sacrificed everything to stop it as the rest of the world watched in horror. 33 years later, the radioactivity of the Chernobyl disaster still lingers.

Emergency workers cleaning up radiated materials with shovels in Pripyat, 1986.

Ground Zero: A Timeline Of Events That Led To The Chernobyl Disaster

The accident occurred a full year before President Reagan famously ordered USSR General Secretary Gorbachev to “tear down that wall.” The Pripyat Amusement Park was set to open on May 1st as part of the May Day celebrations, but that opportunity never came.

It was 1:23 A.M. local time when Reactor 4 suffered a fateful power increase too high to handle. This was before nuclear reactors were encased in a now standardized, protective containment vessel.

Workers hosing the plant down with a decontaminant, 1986.

Chernobyl’s failings allowed vast amounts of radioactive isotopes to billow out into the atmosphere, covering parts of the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, the United Kingdom, and the American east coast in varying amounts of fallout.

Areas closest to the site, like Pripyat, were affected most drastically, with Ukraine’s capital Kiev receiving around 60 percent of the fallout while a significant amount of Russian territory sustained considerable contamination as well. UNICEF estimated that over 350,000 people evacuated their homes in Pripyat and far beyond between 1986 and 2000 specifically due to Chernobyl’s after effects.

The Design Flaws And Misuse Of Reactor 4

The Soviet Union’s Chernobyl nuclear plant is about 65 miles north of Kiev on the banks of the Pripyat River. The town of Pripyat or Prypyat was founded in 1970 to serve the nuclear plant specifically as a closed, nuclear city. It only became an official city nine years later.

But today, save for the startling emergence of wildlife, Pripyat remains a ghost town.

Chernobyl had four reactors and each was capable of generating 1,000 megawatts of electric power. For context, the California Independent System Operator which oversees the bulk of the state’s electric power system, says one megawatt is capable of producing enough electricity for the instantaneous demand of 1,000 homes at once.

Recording radiation levels during construction of a new sarcophagus for Reactor 4, August 1986.

Chernobyl’s four reactors were different than most others worldwide. The Soviet-designed RBMK reactor, or Reactor Bolsho-Moshchnosty Kanalny meaning “high-power channel reactor,” was water-pressurized and intended to produce both plutonium and electric power and as such, used a rare combination of water coolant and graphite moderators that made them fairly unstable at low power.

If the reactors lost cooling water, they’d dramatically decrease power output which would rapidly facilitate nuclear chain reactions. What’s more, the RBMK design didn’t have a containment structure which is exactly what it sounds like: a concrete and steel dome over the reactor itself meant to keep radiation inside the plant even if the reactor fails, leaks, or explodes.

These design flaws compounded with the staff of untrained operators made for the perfect storm of Nuclear failures.

The rather inadequately trained personnel working on the Number 4 reactor late that night on April 25 decided to complicate a routine safety test and conduct an electrical-engineering experiment of their own. Their curiosity of whether or not the reactor’s turbine could operate emergency water pumps on inertial power, unfortunately, got a hold of their judgment.

First, the team disconnected the reactor’s emergency safety systems as well as its essential power-regulating system. Things quickly worsened when they set the reactor at a power level so low that it became unstable and removed too many of its control rods in an effort to regain some control.

At this point, the reactor’s output reached over 200 megawatts. At that fateful hour of 1:23 A.M., the engineers shut the turbine engine off completely to confirm whether or not its inertial spinning would force the reactor’s water pumps to kick in. Tragically, it did not. Without the requisite water-coolant to maintain temperatures, the reactor’s power level spiked to unmanageable levels.

The Chernobyl Disaster

In an effort to prevent the situation from rapidly getting worse, the engineers reinserted all the control rods — about 200 — taken out earlier in the hopes of recalibrating the reactor and bringing it back to reasonable levels. Unfortunately, they reinserted those rods all at once, and because the rods’ tips were made of graphite, this set off a chemical reaction which resulted in an explosion that was then ignited by steam and gas.

The explosion ripped through the 1,000-metric-ton concrete and steel lid and reportedly ruptured all 1,660 pressure tubes as well — thereby causing another explosion that ultimately exposed the reactor core to the world outside.

The resultant fire allowed more than 50 tons of radioactive material to waft into the sky where it was inevitably carried away and spread across the continent by wind currents. The graphite moderator, leaking radioactive material, burned for 10 days straight.

It didn’t take long for the Soviets to order an evacuation of Pripyat’s 30,000. Authorities scrambled to problem-solve their way out of the fiasco on their hands and began with an attempted cover-up that failed a mere day later. Sweden’s radiation monitoring stations over 800 miles northwest of Chernobyl detected radiation levels 40 percent higher than standard levels just a day after the explosion. The Soviet news agencies had no choice but to admit to the world what had happened.

The amount of radiation relinquished into the skies from the Chernobyl disaster was several times that of U.S. atomic bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. With the help of global air currents, the nuclear disaster affected Eastern and Northern Europe and contaminated millions of acres of pristine farmland in the region.

A crumbling school building in Pripyat, 2018.

The “Suicide Squad” Makes A Sacrifice For The Greater Good

Unbelievably, the events of the Chernobyl disaster could have been even worse if not for real-life hero Alexander Akimov and his brave team.

Akimov was the first to declare an emergency in the plant as soon as the reactor was shut down, though by then the damage had already been done. He realized too late the extent of the damage; already the reactor had exploded and began to leak extremely high levels of radiation.

Rather than evacuate the plant as the explosion ensued, Akimov stayed behind. He and his crew of Valeri Bezpalov, Alexi Ananeko, and Boris Baranov entered the reactor’s chamber in waist-high radioactive waters beside the exploded reactor to release water. Bezpalov, Ananeko, and Baranov comprised a ‘Suicide Squad’ that descended into the water even deeper to turn on the emergency feedwater pumps to flood the reactor and stave off the release of more radioactive materials.

They manually pumped emergency feedwater into the reactor without any protective gear. The work of the engineers ended up costing them their lives from radiation poisoning, but they dramatically changed the impact of the disaster. Their sacrifice saved countless others from a resulting fallout that would have covered most of Europe.

The Toll Of Cleanup Operations In Pripyat

While the physical illnesses and disease were reportedly difficult to specifically tie to the disaster itself, the short- and long-term efforts to minimize any harrowing consequences were substantial.

The initial explosion resulted in the death of two workers and 28 firemen and emergency clean-up workers, including 19 others, died within three months of the explosion from Acute Radiation Sickness (ARS). Around 1,000 on-site reactor staff and emergency workers were heavily exposed to high-level radiation as well as more than 200,000 emergency and recovery operation workers.

Managing Reactor 4 proved more difficult and complex compared with the relatively basic task of moving people from one place to another. Soviet estimates have calculated that 211,000 workers took part in the cleanup activities during the first year with anywhere between 300,000 and 600,000 people participating within the first two.

Evacuations began 36 hours after the incident with Soviet authorities having successfully relocated everyone in the 30-kilometer exclusion zone within a month. About 116,000 people had to pick up their things and find new homes — or potentially die from radiation-induced illnesses.

But a 2005 United Nations Report maintains that “the largest public health problem created by the accident” was its effect on the mental health of the 600,000 people living in areas impacted by the event.

The Nuclear Energy Institute claimed Chernobyl’s failings resulted in about 4,000 cases of thyroid cancer, with some deaths occurring as late as 2004 — while the UN study argued that less than 50 deaths could be guaranteed to have resulted from the event’s radiation exposure.

‘Liquidators’ preparing for cleanup, 1986.

Children in contaminated areas were given high doses of thyroid medication in order to combat the increase in radioiodine — a contaminant isotope that had seeped into the regional milk. This isotope had a half-life of eight days. Meanwhile, the soil was found to be contained by cesium-137 — which has a half-life of 30 years.

The efforts appeared to be to little avail. Numerous studies found that the number of thyroid cancer in children under 15 years of age in Belarus as well as Russia and Ukraine in general, showed a steep, concerning spike. Many of these children had developed a particular form of cancer from drinking milk — as cows grazed on contaminated soil, and produced contaminated milk.

A mural in Pripyat depicting children before the meltdown, 2018.

It hadn’t yet become clear, in the frenzy of day to day cleanup operations in those first months following the Chernobyl disaster, but an entire generation of children would grow up permanently changed by the event.

The Prince and the Diggers Daughter-

By Moya Sharp 

Copied & edited by George W Rehder

written by JAMES GRAYSON for the “Nambucca News”

When gold is calling, however tortuous the road, civilised men all the world over (and some women, too) will overcome all apparent impossible obstacles, reaching their objective often in the last stage of endurance. How strange it is, but nevertheless true, that the richest of the Midas ‘ hoards are more often found in places of a nightmare access.
The West Australian Goldfields, for instance, with which this tale is linked, could tell many pitiful stories of suffering and death in that cruel desert land that still its secrets keeps of many who ventured but came not through. Tortured by thirst, chasing the beautiful mirage lakes so real-like. Surely it cannot possibly be that these realistic waters, vast lake areas extending away the miles, beyond, up the shadowy vales, eddying around the distant foothills, with the great fleecy clouds in a blue dome above, and with the white gum-trunks along the hillside so clearly reflected in these inviting pools, can “be but deception—death snares of the badlands. The little waves of deception even are there, rippling the surface of these lakes of grandeur ever beckoning their thirst-parched victims to a desert grave.
And so, my readers, we can easily imagine the spark of hope that flickers in the dying eyes, and the slight flutter to the heart of feeble beats that come when the stricken one first sights these lakes of doom. Many are the graves where lost ones sleep, with no rail to guard or stone to tell who rests there beneath the salt-bush in the water less region of the golden state. Things became so bad at one period in the early days of the Western gold rush, that a police camel corps, as we called them, were continuously scouring the bush, more especially out in the Siberia district. Many were the timely rescues, but often, too often, there were graves to dig.Then for a spell men were

detained in Southern Cross, which was at the time the furthest out civilisation — the jumping off place for the dash across the no-man’s-land of West Australia, 130 miles where no dingoes howled between the Cross and the “Camp of Rest” Coolgardie.

When Bailey and Ford ventured out into the unknown and discovered gold “lumps of it” on the first fringe of what subsequently was proved to be the largest and richest tract of gold-bearing country in the world, the railway line from Northam to the Cross, the out-post mining camp, was in course of completion. From there, however, to Bailey’s new strike was the desert crossing of another 130 miles of dry going. This newly discovered belt extended practically from south to north of the State. On the one square mile of Kalgoorlie, discovered by Paddy Hannan and friends, 25 miles east again from Coolgardie, 450 tons of gold has been smelted.

However, to get on with the story. West Australia was  — burning thirst, long dry stages in blistering heat, 115 in the shade at times, and the cradle home of the “bung-eye” fly. Wagon and horse teams, were the first mode of transport from the Cross, and still are used in many parts of the north-west. We had the cycle express and the donkey teams, but had it not been for the camel, things would have been much worse. It was ideal for these ancient ships of the desert, for level sandy going could always be found in a winding way.
An abundance of camel feed, quandong and mulga scrub, enabled the out-back storekeeper to keep up his stock. These beasts of burden have been known to go 9 to 10 days without a “reviver” and to carry at the same time from 4 to 6 hundredweight average to the connected “train” — nose-line to tail. To drive these thousands of camels, quite an army of Afghans were required, by which means the barrier of the desert land was overcome and the richest gold-fields that as yet man has known was thrown open to the world, and to where flocked the mighty hordes of the nations.

Most of these rich mines have petered out now — treasures torn from old mother earth’ so speedily with modern equipment, by the old mining methods the fields would have lived for another half century. At the time of which I speak the appearance of a woman ,in Coolgardie was an event of excitement and of much speculation. So when Rowles and his family one day arrived in the camp there was quite a stir, for this was the pioneer family east of the badlands. The little girl Rowles, whom I had last seen in Western Queensland, was now about 15, and with good looks, tall and well developed. The thousands of dinkum prospectors who were there, most of them having daughters of their own, mothers or sisters back east, admired this “Daughter of the Diggers,” as we named her. She was like a link with our home life. She was looked upon as only a kid by the white population.

Unfortunately, not so by the black, Prince Shah Mahomet. This meeting of the East with West was tragic, the beginning of a feud which covered 16 years of suffering and shame, taking toll of six human lives.  At the time the Rowles and family, consisted of his wife and daughter Stella, with two little brothers, Billy was about eleven while Peter was nine years old. They struck camp near where there were three large camel owners in Coolgardie, owning thousands of camels each. They controlled the whole of the goldfields transport trade, so naturally freight rates were high, which same were paid without a murmur, the storekeeper passing it on to the digger. It had to be rich, with tin-dog at 5/- per lb. tin, water 5/-per gallon. These three camel men became very wealthy. The richest of the three, however, was Tagh Mahomet, who with his brother Faiz Mahomet, owned many thousands of these beasts of burden, and in commission on every part of the field. Tagh Mahomet was a cousin of the then Amir of Afghanistan, and was really a prince in his own land, being treated as such in Coolgardie by his fellow countrymen. Thus, with royal blood and plenty of money he was easily the camel transport king of the West.

Then there was Shah Mahomet, another prince of the blood. He was Tagh Mahomet’s nephew, and looked every inch what a prince should be, tall and well proportioned, of commanding bearing, black of beard, and without doubt a splendid specimen of manhood. A man that many a girl might easily have fallen in love with. One did, but with what terrible results! When the Rowles family struck the field, Shah had just turned his 21st year. There had been a full week of feasting and merry-making in the Afghan encampment down on Fly Flat, where there was never less than 100 men under canvas at the one time. On many occasions, however, there might be anything up to 200 as it often happened, numbers of incoming camel trains arrived in Coolgardie at the same time. For the birthday party of this black prince, incoming camel drivers urged their string onwards, some doing double stages. This merry-making, like the joy time of a Ghan Christmas, was kept up night and day for one week. The whole population of the field were free, to come and go. A ton of fruit was distributed among the white crowd in the first two nights. I don’t know how much on the following nights, but there was fruit everywhere which must have cost a fortune. In Afghanistan, from time immemorial, the young women, girls, of 9 and 10 years, take to themselves the responsibility of a husband and home. Perhaps the men there become of age before the 21st milestone on the road of life. However, I know the black Prince at the time of the celebration was 21 years old. It was some three months later that Bob Rowles and family arrived on the camp. The girl was considered by the white population to be little more than a child — the Eastern race, though, look upon woman’s age from a different angle altogether.
So when the bomb burst among us that Shah Mahomet had abducted Stella Rowles, a white girl of only 15, the diggers were stirred to murdering point. How the news spread is unknown, but in less than half an hour more than 5,000 diggers, armed to the teeth, surrounded the camp of Shah Mahomet. “String him up!” was heard on every hand, Police inspector McKinna and Warden Finnerty (both have now passed through golden gates)  rushed with all available troopers to the rescue, but they had as much chance of staying the rush as they would have had of stopping a flood. The encampment consisted of many drivers canvas dwellings, with old Prince Tagh Mahomet’s residence — a rather big affair of canvas, hessian, galvanised iron, rusty kerosene tins — squatting in the centre.

The young Prince had shared the “royal palace” with the old chap of money and rank. However, “royalty” counted nothing with the sons of white fathers on this occasion, anyway. It was an ugly situation, the birth of this riot on Fly Speck Flat. Then, when big Paddy McGrath, with his mate Paddy Whelan, arrived on the scene and took charge of things with a mighty shout of “bush law,” the thousands “charged like rushing steers through the “royal” encampment, which they flattened to the ground. The ‘Ghans didn’t show any of the “white feather,” Wrestling is the noble art in Afghanistan, as the bare knuckles act as arbitrator in many British disputes among men. The black Prince was an amateur champion in his own land, and among the hundreds of camel drivers on the field there was only one better man at the game than he that one was a professional named Adgie, whom Mahomet brought specially from ‘Ghan land to wrestle any white man in West Australia.

In a very few moments the scene was as likened to an earthquake visitation. Then somehow it was learned that the young Prince, like a Lochinvar, had mounted his fastest trotting camel, and in the dusk of the evening had carried away the maiden to parts unknown. The broken-hearted Rowles now appealed to the old Prince, who was just as mad with his nephew as the father of the girl was. But what could he do that would avail? However, he put at the immediate service of Rowles and his party any reasonable number of his best riding camels, also Gould Mahomet as interpreter, who could speak half -a-dozen languages fluently. As the father (Rowles) had sworn to shoot the abductor on sight a trooper went along in the name of the law, the girl being under the age of 16. The old Prince issued a mandate to be proclaimed by Gould Mahomet to all Afghans, wherever met, that anyone found harboring Shah Mahomet, who had disgraced his nations honour and offended the Prophet, would be struck off the pay-sheet of the transport king. It was then rumored that an Afghan rider had been seen heading towards the old 90-mile road, early in the night, with what was thought to be a second Ghan riding double, no notice was taken at the time of this every-day sight, so now it was calculated that he was making for some outback Afghan encampment or a cross country dash for some mid-North West sea port, and on this slight clue the chase started without the slightest hope in the world of ever overhauling the runaways. At the time of the abduction I was away from Coolgardie on a flying trip with a mate, Jack Pickering, through the outback country of Murrin Murrin and the Hawk’s Nest 120 miles north-west.

We had said good-bye to little Stella before starting only a week previously. We were now returning, following a compass track which would take us to the little gnamma hole, known as Split Rock. Camels make no hoof-beats, and we came out through a thick patch of mulga right into a small Afghan camp at the Rock, had come right up close before we were noticed (there were no camp dogs on the fields in those days), and I could have sworn that I caught the. whisk of a female’s dress disappearing into a tent. Under similar circumstances the Ghans greet the traveler in a friendly way, but on this occasion we were at a loss to account for the coolness, the lack of welcome. I was struck with some kind of suppressed excitement among them, which they evidently had been discussing upon our arrival. They were civil enough, but seemed anxious. They had been spelling their string for a few days, they said, but were about to move on. We struck the 90-mile road shortly after this arid camped that night at the Flying Pig “specking patch.” Early next morning, when within about 25 miles of Coolgardie on the 90-mile road, we proceeded along, Jack in the lead (poor old Jack- he was a wonderful bushman, but a few years after this he was speared by the natives) suddenly called out, “What’s this coming?’ it must be the advance party of a new gold rush!” We could see a small party of camel riders about a mile distant. “We’ll wait here, Jim,” he advised. “They are coming up fast— we’re in luck, we’ll join the party!” And it was there, with anger and regret that we heard of the pitiful occurrence which sounded to me as a tale of fiction, and I thought of the little kid of the Queensland diggings who, in her trust of men, wanted to show to me where her daddy had all his worldly possessions hidden.

The Rowles party numbered half-a-dozen. Besides Rowles and the trooper, there was Smiler Hales, a writer, no doubt some of you have read his books. Then there was “Rocky Mountain” Bill, a rather, spectacular sort of cuss, a friend of Smiler’s, who claimed to have put up a miner’s timbering record of 6 miles close sets at Cripple Creek, Rocky Mountain, U.S.A. The others were McGrath and Paddy Whelan, with Gould Mahomet. After we had talked the matter over and I had explained what I thought I had seen at Split Rock, Jack Pickering decided to continue on to Coolgardie while I went back to the Rock camp with the party just to ease the father’s mind. McGrath and Whelan turned their faces to the south and accompanied Pickering home. We reached Split Rock long after nightfall, and, as I expected, the Ghans had moved on. We camped well away from where I thought I saw the whisk of a woman’s dress the day previous. As soon as light dawned next morning, while the others were making ready for an early start still onward, the trooper and myself made a thorough investigation, but no girl’s footprints could we find. The policeman was a real bushman and good tracker, and I was pretty good myself in those days. However, I had a strong sense of conviction upon me that the little lass had been there. Gone to destruction at the age of 14 years and 9 months, her father told me. Ularing mining camp lay 22 miles due north.  The Split Rock camel party had passed through late the previous day but there was no girl with them. So at last, giving up all hope of finding his daughter, the brokenhearted father agreed to return home, but kept repeating aloud, “What will her mother say to me?”

Things settled more peacefully in a few days. New gold strikes were being reported from every quarter, and old chums scattered, in many cases never to meet again. Old ‘ Uncle Tagh Mahomet confiscated all of the young Prince’s property, and issued a decree forbidding him ever to return to West Australia.
Rowles and his wife’ still stuck to the old camp in the hope that little Stella some day would return. It was not, however, until 12 months after that a letter came one day from the girl, telling that Shah Mahomet had taken her to a place in India and there had legally married her in accordance with Mohammedan custom, and with this slight comfort they had to be content.
As these camel owners were growing wealthy in West Australia and Shah dare not return, the members of his clan plotted for vengeance. Suddenly, the first blow was struck in this tragic feud, which had begun 15 months before. The old Prince, Tagh Mahomet, chief of the local Afghans, was murdered by a member of an awful Indian cult, which the British Raj had failed to stamp out, and one morning, when the whole camp were engaged in worship a strange Ghan, Goulah  Mahomet, bowed low behind the kneeling old Prince, pressed a revolver against his ribs and shot him dead. it was Friday January 10, 1896, Then he walked up to the police station and gave himself up, he had fulfilled his mission.

Stella’s family were never to see her again.

Former Aboriginal prison on Rottnest Island, the Quod, closed for tourist accommodation

Copied, compiled & edited by George W Rehder

Ezra Jacobs-Smith is the Aboriginal Heritage Officer on Rottnest Island(

A prison building on Rottnest Island where thousands of Aboriginal men and boys were incarcerated will no longer be used as holiday accommodation.

It is a move welcomed by Noongar people as a significant step towards reconciliation and healing.

The island is a popular holiday destination off Perth’s coast and famous for its pristine beaches and quokka selfie opportunities, but the failure to acknowledge its tragic history has long been a source of distress for Aboriginal people.

From Thursday, the 29-cell prison, known as the Quod, will close.

The Quod, the Rottnest prison that was built by and housed Aboriginal prisoners.(

Aboriginal men were taken from all over Western Australia and imprisoned on the island from 1838 until 1904.

Aboriginal heritage officer Ezra Jacobs-Smith told ABC Radio Perth that around 4,000 men and boys, some as young as seven and as old as 80, were incarcerated in the Quod.

They were put to work building houses, the lighthouse and roads that are still in use today.

“The people that were in charge at the time spoke about the prison on Rottnest as being a more humane option than being in prison on the mainland,” Mr Jacobs-Smith said.

“They talked about it being a place where they might be able to rehabilitate them and teach them skills like farming.

“I think the reality didn’t turn out to be that.

“I think we all agree now that it was more about control and the break-up of Aboriginal resistance to settlement across the state of Western Australia.

“A lot of the men that were taken away from country were significant male leadership in their communities.”

Aboriginal prisoners on Rottnest Island, 1889.(

Supplied: State Library of WA

Conditions under the first superintendent, Henry Vincent, were particularly cruel.

“A lot of men passed away because of the conditions they were housed in — dysentery, measles, influenza,” Mr Jacobs-Smith said.

“There were severe beatings and five recorded hangings here; gallows were set up in the Quod and other prisoners forced to watch.”

Future to be debated

Attention has now turned to what should happen to the Quod and the adjacent burial ground, which contains the remains of 370 Aboriginal people.

“I think the first step is recognising the truth of what happened here and to understand and respect this history,” Mr Jacobs-Smith said.

“You can’t imagine running a tourist business over somewhere like Auschwitz; that is the challenge that sits in front of us, the Rottnest Island Authority, the Aboriginal community and the wider community in WA who access the island quite regularly.”

The Wadjemup Aboriginal Reference Group will now begin a thorough process of consultation to determine the site’s future use.

Pamela Thorley is a member of the Wadjemup Aboriginal Reference Group(

Group member Pamela Thorley said she was happy to see the Quod close.

“We have to consult widely across Western Australia and ensure that Aboriginal people who want to have a say on what happens here have that opportunity,” she said.

“Ideas range from people who say ‘burn it down’, to people who say ‘let’s recognise it appropriately and have an interpretive centre’.

“Until we do the consultation and we do it properly, the answers are unknown.”

The Rottnest Island burial site is believed to contain the remains of 370 Aboriginal men.(

Some Aboriginal people have suggested the entire island, which Noongar people call Wadjemup, be handed back to the Wadjuk Noongar community, but Ms Thornley said that was not going happen.

Rather, she said she wanted to see Aboriginal people benefit from the State Government’s plans to expand tourism and accommodation.

“I think there are lots employment training opportunities here for Aboriginal people,” she said.

“I think there could be Aboriginal-owned businesses on the island, a ranger program, opportunities in hospitality, cultural enterprise.

“And we need to ensure that we have some type of memorial here telling the true history of the island.”

Rottnest Island, which Noongar people call Wadjemup, will remain a holiday destination.(

Ms Thorley expects it to be a long process but, if done well, could be an exemplary reconciliation project.

“This could be an international best-practice project.

“There’s a lot of burden on us, the reference group, to ensure that it happens.”

Until it does, visitors are encouraged to undertake a brief ceremony when they arrive to show their respect.

“Take a handful of sand and go down to the water and speak to the spirits,” Mr Jacobs-Smith explained.

“We introduce ourselves and tell them who we are and why we are here.

“It’s just a way of showing that respect and acknowledging what has happened in the past, and non-Aboriginal people are welcome to partake in that ceremony.”

List of people legally executed in Western Australia

Long Island, Houtman Abrolhos

  • Jeronimus Corneliszoon[GR1]  – 2 October 1629 – Hanged as party to the murder of 125 men, women and children
  • Lenert Michielsz – 2 October 1629 – Hanged as party to the murder of 125 men, women and children
  • Mattys Beijr – 2 October 1629 – Hanged as party to the murder of 125 men, women and children
  • Jan Hendricx – 2 October 1629 – Hanged as party to the murder of 125 men, women and children

  • Allert Janssen – 2 October 1629 – Hanged as party to the murder of 125 men, women and children
  • Rutger Fredericxsz – 2 October 1629 – Hanged as party to the murder of 125 men, women and children
  • Andries Jonas – 2 October 1629 – Hanged as party to the murder of 125 men, women and children


  • Doodjeep – 7 July 1840 – Hanged in chains at the site of the crime, for the murders of Sarah Cook and her 8-month-old child on 18 May 1839 at Norrilong, York
  • Barrabong – 7 July 1840 – Hanged in chains at the site of the crime for the murders of Sarah Cook and her 8-month-old child on 18 May 1839 at Norrilong, York


  • Wangayackoo – 28 January 1865 – Hanged at Butterabby, the site of the crime, for the spearing of Thomas Bott
  • Yermakarra – 28 January 1865 – Hanged at Butterabby, the site of the crime, for the spearing of Thomas Bott
  • Garolee – 28 January 1865 – Hanged at Butterabby, the site of the crime, for the spearing of Thomas Bott
  • Charlakarra – 28 January 1865 – Hanged at Butterabby, the site of the crime, for the spearing of Thomas Bott
  • Williakarra – 28 January 1865 – Hanged at Butterabby, the site of the crime, for the spearing of Thomas Bott


  • Ngowee – 19 January 1866 – For the murder of Edward Clarkson on 21 August 1865, hanged at the site of the crime, at Dalbercuttin, near Kellerberrin
  • Egup (Condor) – 21 April 1866 – For the murder of Edward Clarkson on 21 August 1865, hanged at the site of the crime, at Dalbercuttin, near Kellerberrin


  • Cooperabiddy – 20 March 1893 – Hanged for murder of James Coppin, described as a ‘half-caste’, at the Hamersley Ranges
  • Doulga – 28 December 1896 – Hanged for the murder of John Horrigan at Lagrange Bay on 28 March 1896
  • Caroling – 14 May 1900 – Hanged for the murder of Dr Edward Vines at Braeside station
  • Poeling – 14 May 1900 – Hanged for the murder of Dr Edward Vines at Braeside station
  • Weedabong – 14 May 1900 – Hanged for the murder of Dr Edward Vines at Braeside station


  • Lillimara – 21 October 1899 – hanged at Derby Gaol for murder of Thomas Jasper on 17 March 1897 on Oscar Range Station, Fitzroy Crossing
  • Mullabudden – 12 May 1900 – hanged at Derby Gaol for murder of John Dobbie on 12 March 1899 at Mount Broome
  • Woolmillamah – 12 May 1900 – hanged at Derby Gaol for murder of John Dobbie on 12 March 1899 at Mount Broome

Halls Creek

Halls Creek
  • Tomahawk – 18 March 1892 – Hanged at Mount Dockerell, the site of the crime, for the murder of William Miller on 26 June 1891
  • Dicky – 18 March 1892 – Hanged at Mount Dockerell, the site of the crime, for the murder of William Miller on 26 June 1891
  • Chinaman (Jerringo) – 18 March 1892 – Hanged at Mount Dockerell, the site of the crime, for the murder of William Miller on 26 June 1891


  • Sing Ong – 29 October 1884 – Hanged for the murder of Chung Ah Foo on 11 May 1884 at Shark Bay


  • Peter McKean (alias William McDonald) – 12 October 1872 – Hanged for the murder of William “Yorkie” Marriott on 30 June 1872 at Slab Hut Gully (Tunney), between Kojonup and Cranbrook


  • Midgegooroo[GR2]  – 22 May 1833 – Executed at the Perth Gaol by firing squad on a death warrant issued summarily by Lieutenant Governor Frederick Irwin, for the murders of Thomas and John Velvick at Bull’s Creek on 31 March 1833
  • Mendik – 14 October 1841 – Hanged at the site of the crime for the murder of twelve-year-old John Burtenshaw on the Canning River at Maddington on 16 July 1839
  • Buckas (lascar[GR3] 

A group of people

Description automatically generated with low confidence

  • ) – January 1845 – Hanged at Perth for rape on a child under ten years of age
  • James Malcolm – 14 April 1847 – Hanged at the site of the crime, the Burswood Estate (Victoria Park), for highway robbery and murder of Clark Gordon on 6 January 1847
  • Kanyin – 12 April 1850 – Hanged at Redcliffe for the murder of Yadupwert at York. This was the first public execution in Western Australia for inter se
  •  murder
  • Edward Bishop – 12 October 1854 – Hanged at South Perth for the murder of Ah Chong, a chinaman, at York. Protested his innocence to the end. Three years later William Voss confessed to the crime. Voss was hanged in 1862 at Perth Gaol for the murder of his wife
  • Samuel Stanley – 18 April 1855 – Hanged at Victoria Park for the murder of Catherine Dayly on the York Road
  • Jacob – 18 April 1855 – Hanged at Victoria Park for the murder of Bijare at Gingin on 25 September 1854
  • Yoongal – 14 July 1855 – Hanged at Victoria Park for the murder of Kanip at the Hotham River
  • Yandan – 14 July 1855 – Hanged at Victoria Park for the murder by spearing of a ten-year-old girl named Yangerdan near York

Hanged at the Perth Gaol:

  • Bridget Hurford – 15 October 1855 – for the murder of her husband John Hurford at Vasse
  • William Dodd – 15 October 1855 – for the murder of John Hurford at Vasse
  • George Williams – 15 October 1855 – for wounding Warder James McEvoy with a shovel at the Convict Establishment
  •  on 26 September 1855
  • John Scott – 14 January 1856 – for the murder of William Longmate at Vasse
  • Daniel Lewis (Convict # 2972)- January 1857 – for the rape of Ellen Horton at Woorooloo
  • John Lloyd – 29 October 1857 – for wounding with intent to kill John Brown at Port Gregory in June 1857
  • Richard Bibbey – 17 October 1859 – for the murder of Billamarra at Upper Irwin in March 1859. First European executed for murder of an aboriginal in Western Australia
  • Thomas Airey – 13 October 1860 – for the rape of five-year-old Lydia Farmer at Perth in July. Had been granted ticket-of-leave 4 June 1860.
  • John Caldwell – 13 October 1860 – for rape and murder of an aboriginal girl at Champion Bay. A ticket-of-leave man.
  • Thomas Clancy – 10 January 1861 – for the rape of seven-year-old Ellen Jane White at Bunbury
  • Joseph McDonald – 10 January 1861 – for rape at Toodyay
  • Robert Thomas Palin[GR4]  – 6 July 1861 – for robbery with violence of Susan Harding at Fremantle
  • William Voss – 9 January 1862 – for the murder of his wife Mary Moir at York on 11 November 1861
  • Kewacan (Larry) – 24 January 1862 – for the murder of Charles Storey at Jacup on 23 July 1861
  • Long Jimmy – 24 January 1862 – for the murder of Charles Storey at Jacup on 23 July 1861
  • Narreen – 10 April 1862 – for the murder of an Indigenous girl called Nelly at Victoria Plains
  • Eenue – 10 April 1862 – for the murder of an Indigenous girl called Nelly at Victoria Plains
  • Finger – 10 April 1862 – for the murder of Charles Storey at Jacup on 23 July 1861
  • Thomas Pedder – 21 March 1863 – for the murder of Thomas Sweeny, a shepherd, at Irwin River on 1 December 1862
  • John Thomas – 8 September 1863 – for the murder of Duncan Urquhart at Peninsula Farm on 6 June 1863
  • Joseph White – 21 October 1863 – for rape of 13 yo Jane Rhodes, at Greenough on 18 August 1863
  • Teelup – 21 October 1863 – for the murder of Charles Storey at Jacup on 23 July 1861
  • Narrigalt – 18 July 1865 – for the murder of Martha Farling, a 31/2 year-old ‘half-caste’ girl, near York on 26 May 1865
  • Youndalt – 18 July 1865 – for the murder of Martha Farling, a 31/2 yo ‘half-caste’ girl, near York on 26 May 1865
  • Nandingbert – 18 July 1865 – for the murder of Quatcull near Albany on 14 May 1865
  • Yardalgene (also called Jackey Howson) – 18 July 1865 – for the murder of Quatcull near Albany on 14 May 1865
  • Daniel Duffy – 11 January 1866 – an escaped convict, hanged for the murder of Edward Johnson on 5 November 1865 at Northam
  • Matthew Brooks – 11 January 1866 – an escaped convict, hanged for the murder of Edward Johnson on 5 November 1865 at Northam
  • Bernard Wootton (also called MacNulty) – 8 October 1867 – an escaped convict, hanged for the attempted murder of Police Sgt. John Moye after his recapture at Murramine, near Beverley. Hanged at Perth Gaol.
  • James Fanning – 14 April 1871 – for the rape of thirteen-year-old Mary Dawes on the Albany Road on 24 November 1870. The first private execution and the last execution for rape in the colony
  • Margaret Cody – 15 July 1871 – for the murder of James Holditch, at North Fremantle on 4 March 1871
  • William Davis – 15 July 1871 – for the murder of James Holditch, at North Fremantle on 4 March 1871
  • Briley (Briarly) – 13 October 1871 – for the murder of Charley (Wickin) at Albany
  • Noorbung – 13 October 1871 – for the murder of Margaret Mary McGowan at Boyanup on 30 June 1871
  • Charcoal (Mullandaridgee) – 15 February 1872 – for the murder of Samuel Wells Lazenby at Port Walcott on 7 August 1871
  • Tommy (Mullandee) – 15 February 1872 – for the murder of Samuel Wells Lazenby at Port Walcott
  •  on 7 August 1871
  • Yarradeee – 16 October 1873 – for the murder and cannibalism of three-year-old Edward William Dunn at Yanganooka, Port Gregory on 5 October 1865
  • Muregelly – 16 October 1873 – for the murder and cannibalism of three-year-old Edward William Dunn at Yanganooka, Port Gregory on 5 October 1865
  • Robert Goswell – 13 January 1874 – for murder of Mary Anne Lloyd at Stapelford, Beverley on 1 December 1873
  • John Gill – 4 April 1874 – hanged for the murder of William Foster at Narrogin on 13 February 1874
  • Bobbinett – 22 April 1875 – for the murder of Police Lance-Corporal William Archibald Armstrong near Kojonup on 14 January 1875
  • Wanaba (or Wallaby) – 22 April 1875 – for the murder of Tommy Howell (or Moul), a police native assistant, near Yalgoo on 10 July 1874
  • Wandagary – 22 April 1875 – for the murder of Tommy Howell (or Moul), a police native assistant, near Yalgoo on 10 July 1874
  • Kenneth Brown[GR5]  – 10 June 1876 – for the murder of his wife Mary Ann on 3 January 1876 at Geraldton
  • Yarndu – 16 October 1876
  • Chilagorah – 29 April 1879 – for the murder of Pintagorah at Cossack on 31 January 1879
  • Ah Kett – 27 January 1883 – for the murder of Foo Ah Moy, at Cheritah Station, Roebourne on 2 July 1883
  • John Collins – 27 January 1883 – for the murder of John King at the Kalgan River near Albany on 2 October 1882
  • John Maroney – 25 October 1883 – for the murder of James Watson at Yellenup, Kojonup on 1 May 1883
  • William Watkins – 25 October 1883 – for the murder of James Watson at Yellenup, Kojonup on 1 May 1883
  • Henry Benjamin Haynes – 23 January 1884 – for the murder of his wife Mary Ann Haynes at Perth on 12 October 1883
  • Thomas Henry Carbury – 23 October 1884 – for the murder of Constable Hackett at Beverley
  • Beverley
    • on 12 September 1884
    • John Duffy – 28 January 1885 – for the murder of his wife Mary Sultana McGann at Fremantle on 21 November 1884
    • Henry Sherry – 27 October 1885 – for the murder of Catherine Waldock at Quinderring, Williams on 16 September 1885
    • Franz Erdmann – 4 April 1887 – for the murder of Anthony Johnson at McPhee’s Creek, Kimberley on 27 October 1886
    • William Conroy [GR6] – 18 November 1887 – for the murder of John Snook at Fremantle Town Hall on 23 June 1887


    • Tampin – 16 July 1879 – Hanged for the murder of John Moir at Stokes Inlet on 29 March 1877
    • Wangabiddi – 18 Jun 1883 – Hanged for the murder of Charles Redfern at Minni-Minni on the Gascoyne River in May 1882 
    • Guerilla – 18 June 1883 – Hanged for the murder of Anthony Cornish at Fitzroy River on 12 December 1882
    • Naracorie – 3 August 1883 – Hanged for the murder of Charles Brackell at Wandagee on the Minilya River on 31 July 1882 
    • Calabungamarra – 13 June 1888 – Hanged for the murder of a Chinese man, Indyco, at Hamersley Range


    List of executions at Fremantle Prison

    Hanged at the Round House:

    • John Gaven[GR7]  – 6 April 1844 – Hanged for the murder of George Pollard at South Dandalup

    Hanged at Fremantle Prison:

    • Long Jimmy (alias Jimmy Long) – 2 March 1889 – A Malay, hanged for the murder of Claude Kerr on board the pearling lugger ‘Dawn’ at Cossack on 7 September 1888
    • Ahle Pres (alias Harry Pres) – 8 November 1889 – A Singapore Malay, hanged for the murder of Louis, a Filipino, near Halls Creek, on 9 June 1889
    • Ah Chi (alias Li Ki Hong) – 16 April 1891 – Hanged for the murder of Ah Gin at Daliak, York on 3 March 1891
    • Chew Fong – 29 April 1892 – Hanged for the murder of Ah Pang at Meka Station on 23 Dec 1891
    • Lyee Nyee – 29 April 1892 – Hanged for the murder of Ah Pang at Meka Station on 23 Dec 1891
    • Yung Quonk (Young Quong) – 29 April 1892 – Hanged for the murder of Ah Pang at Meka Station on 23 Dec 1891
    • Sin Cho Chi – 29 April 1892 – Hanged for the murder of George E.B Fairhead, at a Mill Stream out-station, near Roebourne
    • [GR8] – 2 May 1896 – Hanged for the murder of Tagh Mahomet in the mosque at Coolgardie on 10 January 1896
    • Jumna Khan – 31 March 1897 – Hanged for the murder of William Griffiths in High Street, Fremantle on 3 December 1896
    • Pedro De La Cruz – 19 July 1900 – Hanged for the murder of Captain John Arthur Reddell of the brigantine Ethel, his 19-year-old son Leslie, the mate James Taylor, and two crew-members (Ando, who was Japanese, and Jimmy, who was Indigenous), at the La Grange Bay pearling grounds, near Broome, on 19 October 1899
    • Peter Perez – 19 July 1900 – Hanged for the murder of Captain John Arthur Reddell of the brigantine Ethel, his 19-year-old son Leslie, the mate James Taylor, and two crew-members (Ando, who was Japanese, and Jimmy, who was Indigenous), at the La Grange Bay pearling grounds, near Broome, on 19 October 1899
    • Samuel Peters – 9 September 1902 – Hanged for the murder of his wife Trevenna Peters at Leederville on 3 July 1903
    • Stelios Psichitas – 15 April 1903 – Greek national, hanged for the rape and murder of his sister-in-law Sophia Psichitas (nee Leadakis) and murder of his 4-month-old nephew Emanuel at Lawlers on 20 December 1902
    • Fredric Maillat – 21 April 1903 – French national, hanged for the murder of Charles Lauffer, at Smith’s Mill, Glen Forest, on 4 February 1903
    • Sebaro Rokka – 7 July 1903 – Hanged for the murder of Dollah and another Malay at Point Cunningham, near Derby on 20 February 1903
    • Ah Hook – 11 January 1904 – Hanged for the murder of Yanoo, a Japanese laundryman, at Carnarvon on 26 August 1903
    • Manoor Mohomet – 4 May 1904 – Hanged for the murder of Meer, an Afghan, at Kensington, near Menzies on 16 November 1903
    • Simeon Espada – 14 December 1905 – Hanged for the murder of Mark Lieblig at Broome on 30 August 1905
    • Charles Hagen – 14 December 1905 – Hanged for the murder of Mark Lieblig at Broome on 30 August 1905
    • Pablo Marquez – 14 December 1905 – Hanged for the murder of Mark Lieblig at Broome
    • on 30 August 1905
    • Antonio Sala – 19 November 1906 – Hanged for the murder of Battista Gregorini at Mt Jackson on 13 September 1906
    • Augustin De Kitchilan – 23 October 1907 – Hanged for the murder of Leah Fouracre at Peppermint Grove Farm, Waroona on 15 or 16 August 1907
    • Harry G. Smith – 23 March 1908 – Hanged for the murder of William John Clinton at Day Dawn on 5 January 1908
    • Iwakichi Oki – 22 October 1908 – Hanged for the murder of James Henry Shaw at West Murray, Pinjarra on 23 August 1908
    • Martha Rendell
    •  – 6 October 1909 – Hanged for the murder of her 14-year-old stepson Arthur Morris by poisoning on 8 October 1908, suspected of killing two younger stepchildren
    • Peter Robustelli – 9 February 1910 – Hanged for the murder of Giovanni Forsatti in a lane between Bayley and Woodward streets, Coolgardie
    • on 19 October 1909
    • Alexander Smart – 7 March 1911 – Hanged for the murder of Ethel May Harris at 5 Cowle Street, West Perth on 10 March 1910
    • David H Smithson – 25 July 1911 – Hanged for the rape and murder of 18-year-old Elizabeth Frances Compton at Woodlupine on 13 May 1911
    • Charles Spargo – 1 July 1913 – Hanged for the murder of Gilbert Pickering Jones at Broome on 23 January 1913
    • Charles H. Odgers – 14 January 1914 – Hanged for the murder of Edith Molyneaux at Balgobin, Dandalup on 3 October 1913; also charged with murder of Richard Thomas Williams at Waroona on 14 September 1913
    • Andrea Sacheri (alias Joseph Cutay) – 12 April 1915 – Hanged for the murder of 11-year-old Jean Bell at Marrinup, near Dwellingup, on 12 January 1915
    • Frank Matamin (alias Rosland) – 12 March 1923 – Hanged for the murder of Zareen at Nullagine on 27 August 1922
    • Royston Rennie – 2 August 1926 – Hanged for the murder of John Roger Greville on the train between East Perth and Perth stations on 3 June 1926
    • William Coulter – 25 October 1926 – Hanged for the murders of Inspector John Walsh and Sergeant Alexander Pitman
    •  near Boulder on 28 April 1926
    • John Sumpter Milner – 21 May 1928 – Hanged for the rape and murder of 11-year-old Ivy Lewis at Darkan on 28 February 1928
    • Clifford Hulme – 3 September 1928 – Hanged for the murder of Harold Eaton Smith at Wubin on 22 June 1928
    • Antonio Fanto – 18 May 1931 – Hanged for the murder of Cosimo Nesci (sometimes Nexi, Xesci) at Latham on 20 March 1931
    • John Thomas Smith (Snowy Rowles[GR9] 
    Extract from The Mirror on the story of Snowy Rowles and the Murchison Murder. Page 6 19 March, 1932.
    • ) – 13 June 1932 – Hanged for the murder of Louis George Carron near the 183 mile gate on the No. 1 Rabbit-proof fence
    • , near Youanmi, on or about 20 May 1930
    • Karol Tapci – 23 June 1952 – Hanged for the murder of Norman Alfred Perfect at Wubin on 17 March
    • Robert Jeremiah Thomas – 18 July 1960 – Hanged for the murder of taxi-driver Keith Mervyn Campbell Wedd at Claremont on 22 June 1959. Also charged with the murder of John and Kaye O’Hara in Jimbell St, Mosman Park.
    • Mervyn Fallows – 6 June 1961 – Hanged for the rape and murder of 11-year-old Sandra Dorothea Smith at North Beach on or before 29 December 1960
    • Brian William Robinson – 20 January 1964 – Hanged for the murder of Constable Noel Ileson at Belmont on 9 February 1963
    • Eric Edgar Cooke[GR10]  
    • – 26 October 1964 – Hanged for murder of John Lindsay Sturkey at Nedlands on 27 January 1963

     [GR1]Jeronimus Cornelisz (c. 1598 – 2 October 1629) was a Dutch apothecary and Dutch East India Company merchant who sailed aboard the merchant ship Batavia which foundered near Australia. Cornelisz then led one of the bloodiest mutinies in history.

    After the ship was wrecked on 4 June 1629, in the Houtman Abrolhos, a chain of coral islands off the west coast of Australia, Francisco Pelsaert, the expedition’s commander, went to get help from the Dutch settlements in Indonesia, returning several months later.

    While Pelsaert was away, Cornelisz led one of the bloodiest mutinies in history, for which he was eventually tried, convicted and hanged.

     [GR2]Midgegooroo (died 22 May 1833) was an Aboriginal Australian elder of the Nyungar nation, who played a key role in Aboriginal resistance to white settlement in the area of Perth, Western Australia. Everything documented about Midgegooroo (variously spelled in the record as “Midgeegaroo”, “Midgegarew”, “Midgegoorong”, Midgegoroo”, Midjegoorong”, “Midjigoroo”, “Midgigeroo”, Midjigeroo”, “Migegaroo”, “Migegaroom”, “Migegooroo”, “Midgecarro”, “Widgegooroo”) is mediated through the eyes of the colonisers, some of whom, notably G.F. Moore, Robert Menli Lyon and Francis Armstrong, derived their information from discussions with contemporary Noongar people, in particular the son of Midgegooroo, Yagan. Largely due to his exploits in opposing colonisation and his relationship with Lyon and Moore, Yagan has a much sharper historical profile than his father. Midgegooroo was executed by firing squad and without trial under the authority of Lieutenant Governor Frederick Irwin in 1833.

     [GR3]lascar was a sailor or militiaman from the Indian SubcontinentSoutheast Asia, the Arab worldBritish Somaliland, or other land east of the Cape of Good Hope, who were employed on European ships from the 16th century until the middle of the 20th century.

    The word lascar derives ultimately from lashkar, the Persian word for “army.” In Mughal and Urdu culture the word is used to describe a “swarm like formation in any army” (lashkar); however this word originates via Portuguese language. The Portuguese adapted this term to “lascarim“, meaning Asian militiamen or seamen, specifically from any area east of the Cape of Good Hope. This means that IndianMalayChinese and Japanese crewmen were covered by the Portuguese definition. The British of the East India Company initially described Indian lascars as ‘Topazes‘, but later adopted the Portuguese name, calling them ‘lascar’. Lascars served on British ships under “lascar agreements”. These agreements allowed shipowners more control than was the case in ordinary articles of agreement. The sailors could be transferred from one ship to another and retained in service for up to three years at one time. The name lascar was also used to refer to Indian servants, typically engaged by British military officers

     [GR4]Robert Thomas Palin (c.1835 – 6 July 1861) was a convict transported to Western Australia. His execution in 1861 was the only time in the convict era of Western Australia that Ordinance 17 Victoria Number 7 was used to secure the capital punishment of a convict for a crime not normally punishable by death.

    Born around 1835, nothing is known of Robert Palin’s early life except his criminal record. In 1851, he was sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment for housebreaking; in 1853, he was tried but acquitted of murder; and in March 1856, he was convicted of “burglary from the person” and sentenced to penal servitude for life. At the time of his sentencing, he was described as a shoemaker by trade.

    Palin was transported to Western Australia on the Nile, arriving in January 1860. His behaviour was good both during and after the voyage. In April 1860, he was appointed a probationary constable and received his ticket of leave in January 1861. At that time he had a house in Fremantle from which he worked as a shoemaker and took in lodgers.

    On 29 May 1861, Palin was charged with having broken into the home of Samuel and Susan Harding. Susan Harding gave evidence that her husband had been away and that she had woken during the night to find a man standing at the side of her bed. The man seized her by the arm and demanded money. When she said she had none, “he pulled the bedclothes down and felt about the bed… I thought he was going to commit some assault.” Harding then gave the man a number of valuables and he left. The following morning, the police followed a set of footprints to Palin’s house, where they found some wet boots whose tread matched the prints. They also recovered a number of the valuables that had been stolen.

    Palin claimed to have been set up by William Cockrane, another ticket-of-leave man whom Palin said had a grudge against him. However, he was not believed and the jury found him guilty of robbery with violence, the violence being the “battery on the person of Mrs. Harding by seizing her by the arm while she was in bed.” Chief Justice Archibald Burt passed a sentence of death and Palin was hanged three days later on 6 July 1861.

     [GR5]While in Melbourne, Brown married Mary Ann Tindall (born 1849). They re-located to New Zealand and for some time operated the Courthouse Hotel in Thames (outside of Auckland). In the years 1874 and 1875, they produced two children, Rose and Amy. In Thames, Brown showed a range of anti-social behavior that included two court appearances for assault on a local shop keeper and threatening to kill his wife. The family returned to Western Australia in September 1875, by which time the marriage was in trouble, and there are a range of further references to them constantly and openly quarrelling. On their return journey from Melbourne to Fremantle, the couple had a physical altercation that was witnessed by John Forrest. The couple and their children arrived in Champion Bay in October 1875. During this time, Brown continued to show a range of anti-social behaviours, and, on Monday 3 January 1876, during the process of packing up their house to move to other accommodation, he shot his wife dead.

    At trial, he elected not to provide any explanation or excuse for his actions and his legal team mounted a defence based on diminished responsibility. The prosecution succeeded in proving the charge at the third trial (the first two trials resulting in hung juries). Brown was found guilty of wilful murder and sentenced to death by the Chief Justice Archibald Burt and hanged on 10 June 1876 at Perth Gaol. The record of inquest proclaimed by Police Magistrate E Landor states that Brown died by hanging.

    Many years later, Rose Burges, the eldest daughter of Brown’s second marriage, claimed that while travelling in America she had met her father in a hotel. Because of this, a story persists that Brown’s older brother had arranged Brown’s escape to the United States. This is considered as improbable, and there is a newspaper report describing how Maitland Brown stood next to Brown on the dock when the bolt was drawn and that Brown’s body had to be cut free from the rope and was later buried by relatives, possibly at Guildford (where his mother resided at the time).

    Brown’s second child by his first marriage was Edith Cowan (nee Brown). Edith’s grandson was Peter Cowan, a celebrated Western Australian author who wrote detailed biographies on Maitland Brown and Edith Cowan. Julie Lewis has suggested that Brown’s life and death:

     [GR6]William Conroy (1857 – 18 November 1887) was the last person executed at the Perth Gaol. Conroy was convicted of murdering Fremantle Town Councillor John Snook.

    Conroy had immigrated from Ireland about ten years earlier, and before going to Fremantle was the licensee of the Victoria Hotel, located at the corner of James Street and Melbourne Road in Perth. On 6 September 1886 Conroy became the first publican of the new National Hotel on High Street in Fremantle.

    On 23 June 1887 Conroy went to the Fremantle Town Hall where there was a children’s ball in progress. He demanded entrance, as he was a licensee of the National Hotel, but was told by Snook that only ladies and children were to be admitted. He persisted in his demands and finally the door was slammed on him. Conroy later gained admittance to the Town Hall. When Snook left the supper room, Conroy followed him, drew a revolver from his pocket, shot Snook and put the gun back in his pocket. Conroy was arrested immediately. Snook died three months later. The trial took place at Perth and he was sentenced to death on 7 October 1887. After he was sentenced a petition was raised and signed by approximately 1500 people, including all members of the jury who had at the time of passing the verdict asked the judge to be lenient. This was then given to Governor Broome. A further call to the governor for clemency occurred during a public meeting attend by 1000 people at the Perth Town Hall. Governor Broome then reviewed the case with two judges and medical people who had previously been part of Conroy’s trial, but the governor decided to let the law take it course. Conroy was hanged at Perth Gaol at 8 am on 18 November 1887. The execution however was not swift as when Conroy was hanged the initial fall failed to break his neck and it took approximately 15 minutes for him to die of strangulation. Conroy was buried at Fremantle Cemetery

     [GR7]Born in 1829, John Gavin was convicted of an offence while still a juvenile, and was transported to Western Australia as a Parkhurst apprentice, arriving on board the Shepherd in October 1843.

    On 3 April 1844, he was tried for the murder of his employer’s son, 18-year-old George Pollard. He confessed to killing the sleeping victim with an adze, but he seemed unaware of a rational motive. Three days later he was publicly hanged outside the Round House in Fremantle. After a death mask had been taken and his brain studied for “scientific purposes” he was buried in the sand hills to the south without a ceremony.

     [GR8]In the Fremantle Gaol on Saturday morning Goulam Mahomet, the murderer of Tagh. Mahomet at Coolgardie on January 10 was hanged, at the age of 27 years. Death was almost instantaneous and certainly was inflicted without pain. Just over three weeks ago Goulam Mahomet was sentenced by Mr. Justice Stone to undergo capital punishment for the murder of a fellow Afghan, Tagh Mahomet, a member of the wealthy trading and camel owning firm of Faiz and Tagh Mahomet, of Coolgardie. It seems peculiar that, of all places, the deed was perpetrated inside the Mahommedan mosque, and at a time when, to a Muslim, the victim was engaged in the solemn act of prayer.

     [GR9]The Murchison Murders were a series of three murders, committed by an itinerant stockman known as “Snowy” Rowles (born John Thomas Smith), near the rabbit-proof fence in Western Australia during the early 1930s. Rowles used the murder method that had been suggested by author Arthur Upfield in his then unpublished book The Sands of Windee, in which he described a foolproof way to dispose of a body and thus commit the perfect murder.

     [GR10]Eric Edgar Cooke (25 February 1931 – 26 October 1964), nicknamed The Night Caller and later The Nedlands Monster, was an Australian serial killer. From September 1958 to August 1963, he terrorised the city of Perth, Western Australia, by committing at least twenty-two violent crimes, eight of which resulted in deaths.[

    List of people legally executed in Victoria

    • Tunnerminnerwait – Hanged at Melbourne on 20 January 1842 for the murder of two whalers at Cape Paterson
    • Maulboyheenner – Hanged at Melbourne on 20 January 1842 for the murder of two whalers at Cape Paterson
    • Charles Ellis – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol on 28 June 1842 for “shooting with intent to maim or disable” (“The Plenty Trio”)
    • Martin Fogarty – Bushranger. Hanged at Melbourne Gaol on 28 June 1842 for “shooting with intent to maim or disable” (“The Plenty Trio”)
    • Daniel (“Yankee Jack”) Jepps – Bushranger. Hanged at Melbourne Gaol on 28 June 1842 for “shooting with intent to maim or disable” (“The Plenty Trio”)
    • Alkepurata (“Roger”) – 5 September 1842 – From Port Fairy. Hanged at Melbourne for murder of Patrick Codd at Mount Rouse, Hamilton
    • Jeremiah Connell – 27 January 1847 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol
    •  for the murder of Edward Martin at Buninyong
    • Bobby – 30 April 1847 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the killing by spear of Andrew Beveridge at Piangil
    • Ptolemy – 30 April 1847 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the killing by spear of Andrew Beveridge at Piangil
    • John (“Pretty Boy”) Healey – 29 November 1847 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of Jemmy Ritchie at Tarraville, Gippsland
    • Augustus Dancey 19 – 1 August 1848 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of Matthew Luck at Stony Creek (Spotswood)
    • Patrick Kennedy – 1 October 1851 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of his wife Mary at Penshurst
    • James Barlow – 22 May 1852 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for murder by stabbing William Jones at a boarding house in Flinders Street, Melbourne
    • John Riches (Richie) – 3 November 1852 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of Harry Webb in the Black Forest, near Macedon
    • George Pinkerton – 4 April 1853 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of Bridget Smith, 8 months pregnant, and her one-year-old son Charles at Brighton
    • Aaron Durant – 11 July 1853 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for robbery with violence and sexual assault of Mr & Mrs John Wright at Bendigo
    • John Smith – 23 August 1853 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for Robbery With Violence at Fryer’s Creek
    • Henry Turner – 23 August 1853 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for Robbery With Violence at Fryer’s Creek
    • William Atkins (or Atkyns) – 3 October 1853 – Bushranger. Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the robbery of the Private Escort, near Kalkallo
    • George (“Frenchy”) Melville – 3 October 1853 – Bushranger. Hanged at Melbourne Gaol
    • for the robbery of the Private Escort
    • George Wilson – 3 October 1853 – Bushranger. Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the robbery of an Escort
    • Patrick O’Connor (or Connor) – 24 October 1853 – Bushranger. Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the attempted murder of Edward Thompson near Kilmore
    • Henry Bradley – 24 October 1853 – Bushranger. Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the attempted murder of Edward Thompson near Kilmore
    • Michael Fennessy – 25 October 1853 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for murder of his wife Eliza Fennessy off Little Bourke Street
    • Alexander Ram – 25 October 1853 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of Kitty Finessy at Prahran
    • John Smith – 25 November 1853 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for being accessory to rape of Mary-Ann Brown on the Goulburn River Diggings
    • Joseph West – 27 December 1853 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for rape of eight-year-old Elizabeth Fraser near Chewton
    • James Button – 28 March 1854 – Bushranger. Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for Shooting With Intent on the Goulburn River Diggings
    • David Magee – 25 April 1854 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for murder of a man named McCarthy on the Avoca River
    • William Thoroughgood – 23 May 1854 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the rape of seven-year-old Sarah Bishop
    • John Hughes – 25 September 1854 – Hanged At Melbourne Gaol for the murder of Abraham Marcus at Yackandandah
    • John Gunn – 9 November 1854 – Hanged at Geelong Gaol 
    • for the murder of Samuel Harris at Warrnambool
    • George (John) Roberts – 9 November 1854 – Hanged at Geelong for attempting to poison George Kelly at Native Creek, near Inverleigh
    • Luke Lucas – 24 November 1854 – Hanged for murder of his wife Mary off Little Bourke Street
    • James McAlister – 25 July 1855 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for murder of Jane Jones at the Exchange Hotel, Swanston Street, Melbourne
    • James Condon (alias Arthur Somerville) – 24 November 1855 – Bushranger. Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for Robbery With Violence near Bacchus Marsh
    • John Dixon – 24 November 1855 – Bushranger. Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for Robbery With Violence near Bacchus Marsh
    • Alfred Henry Jackson – 24 November 1855 – Bushranger. Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for Robbery With Violence near Bacchus Marsh
    • James Ross (alias Griffiths) – 22 April 1856 – Hanged at Geelong Gaol for the murder of his son and Eliza Sayer near Horsham
    • William Twigham (or Twiggem, alias Lexton)33 – 11 March 1857 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of Sergeant John McNally at the Cathcart Diggings, near Ararat
    • Chu-Ah-Luk 30 – 2 March 1857 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of Ah Pat at Campbell’s Creek
    • James Cornick – 16 March 1857 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for murder of Agnes McCallum (Horne) at Eaglehawk
    • Frederick Turner 22 – 27 April 1857 – Bushranger. Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for Robbery Under Arms on the Flemington Road
    • Thomas Williams – 28 April 1857 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol
    • for his part in the murder of Inspector-General John Giles Price
    • Henry Smith (alias Brennan) – 28 April 1857 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for his part in the murder of Inspector-General John Giles Price[GR1] 
    • Thomas Moloney – 28 April 1857 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for his part in the murder of Inspector-General John Giles Price
    • Francis Brannigan – 29 April 1857 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for his part in the murder of Inspector-General John Giles Price
    • William Brown – 29 April 1857 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for his part in the murder of Inspector-General John Giles Price
    • Richard Bryant – 29 April 1857 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for his part in the murder of Inspector-General John Giles Price
    • John Chisley – 30 April 1857 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for his part in the murder of Inspector-General John Giles Price
    • James Woodlock – 1 June 1857 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for murder of Charles Vick in Castlemaine
    • Chong Sigh – 3 September 1857 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for murder of Sophia “The Chinawoman” Lewis in a brothel in Stephen Street (Exhibition Street) Melbourne
    • Hing Tran – 3 September 1857 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for murder of Sophia Lewis in a brothel in Stephen Street (Exhibition Street) Melbourne
    • John Mason – 6 November 1857 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for murder of “Big George” Beynor at Ballan
    • Edward Brown – 1 March 1858 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for Robbery With Violence at Ararat Racecourse
    • William Jones – 1 March 1858 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for Robbery With Violence at Ararat Racecourse
    • George Robinson – 16 March 1858 – Hanged for the murder of Margaret Brown at Maryborough
    • Edward Cardana (alias John Nelson alias Michael Ferrara) – 19 March 1858 – Hanged at Bendigo for the murder of John Armstrong at Long Gully
    • Owen McQueeny – 20 October 1858 – Hanged at Geelong for the murder of Elizabeth Lowe near Meredith (“The Green Tent Murder”)
    • Samuel Gibbs – 12 November 1858 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol
    • for the murder of his wife Anne at Ararat. This execution was botched; the rope snapped tumbling Gibbs to the floor. He had to be carried back up the scaffold and hanged again with a fresh rope.
    • George Thompson – 12 November 1858 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of Hugh Anderson at Ballarat
    • Edward Hitchcock – 29 November 1858 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of his wife Ann at Strathloddon, near Campbell’s Creek. This execution was also botched; Hitchcock failed to die and remained struggling on the rope. The executioner had to grab Hitchcock by the knees and use his weight to ensure death.
    • Christian Von Sie (or Von See) – 29 November 1858 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of Martin Loemann near Mitiamo
    • Thomas Ryan – 11 April 1859 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of Joe Hartwig in the Indigo Valley
    • William (“Plaguey Billy”) Armstrong – 12 July 1859 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for shooting with intent, Omeo
    • George (“The Butcher”) Chamberlain 24 – 12 July 1859 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for shooting with intent, Omeo
    • Richard Rowley – 26 July 1859 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for violent assault with intent to murder his overseers at the Pentridge Stockade
    • William Siddons – 7 November 1859 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the rape of eight-year-old Mary-Anne Smith at Doctor’s Creek, near Lexton
    • Henry Brown – 21 November 1859 – Hanged for murder of George James Tickner at Mount Korong, near Wedderburn
    • George Waines -16 July 1860 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of Mary Hunt at Casterton
    • Edward Fenlow (alias Reynolds) – 20 August 1860 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of George Plummer (alias Gardiner) at Inglewood
    • John McDonald – 30 September 1860 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol
    • for murder of his wife Sarah at Ironbark Gully, Bendigo
    • William Smith – 22 April 1861 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of his wife Ellen near Wangaratta
    • Henry Cooley – 11 July 1861 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for murder of his wife Harriet at Heathcote
    • Nathaniel Horatio Ruby – 5 August 1861 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of Joe Watson at the Great Western Reef, Tarnagulla
    • Martin Rice – 30 September 1861 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of Anthony Green off Bourke Street, Melbourne
    • Thomas Sanders – 31 October 1861 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the rape of Mary Egan at Keilor
    • Samuel Pollett – 29 December 1862 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the rape of his ten-year-old daughter Sarah at Prahran
    • Thomas McGee – 19 February 1863 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of Alexander Brown at Maiden Gully
    • James Murphy – 6 November 1863 – Hanged at Geelong for the murder of Senior Constable Daniel O’Boyle at Warrnambool
    • Julian Cross – 11 November 1863 – From Macao. Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of Robert Scott in the Wappan district (near Mansfield)
    • David Gedge – 11 November 1863 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of Robert Scott in the Wappan district (near Mansfield)
    • Elizabeth Scott – 11 November 1863 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of her husband in the Wappan district (near Mansfield)
    • James Barrett (also called Birmingham) – 1 December 1863 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of Elizabeth Beckinsale at Woodstock
    • Alexander Davis – 29 February 1864 – Hanged at Ballarat Gaol for the murder of George Sims at Smythesdale
    • William Carver (also called Thornby, Foster) – 3 August 1864 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for an attempted bank robbery at Fitzroy
    • Samuel Woods (also called Abraham Salmonie) – 3 August 1864 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol
    • for Shooting With Intent in an attempted bank robbery at Fitzroy
    • Christopher Harrison – 3 August 1864 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of James Marsh in William St.
    • John Stacey (real name Casey) – 5 April 1865 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of two-year-old Danny Gleeson at South Melbourne
    • Joseph (“Quiet Joe”) Brown – 4 May 1865 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of Emmanuel “Dodger” Jacobs at the Whittington Tavern, Bourke Street Melbourne
    • Peter Dotsalaere – 6 July 1865 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of Catherine Jacobs at 106 LaTrobe Street Melbourne
    • David Young – 21 August 1865 – Hanged at Castlemaine Gaol A picture containing building, outdoor, old, house

Description automatically generatedfor the murder of Margaret Graham at Daylesford
    • Thomas (“Yankee Tom”) Menard – 28 October 1865 – Hanged at Geelong for the murder of James Sweeney at Warrnambool
    • Patrick Sheehan – 6 November 1865 – Hanged at Beechworth for the murder of James Kennedy at Rowdy Flat Yackandandah
    • Long Poy – 10 March 1866 – Hanged at Castlemaine for the murder of Ah Yong at Emu Flat
    • James Jones – 19 March 1866 – Hanged at Ballarat for the murder of Dr Julius Saenger, committed at Scarsdale
    • Robert Bourke (alias Cluskey) – 29 November 1866 – Bushranger. Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of Harry Facey Hurst at Diamond Creek
    • Denis Murphy – 16 April 1867 – Hanged at Ballarat for the murder of Patrick O’Meara at Bullarook
    • John Kelly – 4 May 1867 – Hanged at Beechworth for sodomy on eighteen-month-old James Strack at Wangaratta
    • William Terry – 31 July 1867 – Hanged at Castlemaine for the murder of a man named Peter Reddick or Redyk on the Coliban near Taradale
    • George Searle – 7 August 1867 – Hanged at Ballarat for the murder of Thomas Burke at Piggoreet
    • Joseph Ballan – 7 August 1867 – Hanged at Ballarat for the murder of Thomas Burke at Piggoreet
    • Bernard Cunningham – 31 March 1868 – Confederate Army veteran. Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of John Fairweather at Green Gully, near Keilor
    • Joseph Whelan – 31 March 1868 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of farmer Tom Branley at Rokewood
    • John Hogan – 14 August 1868 – Hanged at Castlemaine
    • for the murder of Martin Rooney, committed at Bullock Creek, outside Marong
    • Michael Flannigan (Flannagan) – 31 March 1869 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of Sgt Thomas Hull at Hamilton
    • James Ritson – 3 August 1869 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of the Methodist Minister William Hill, who was visiting him at A Division, Pentridge
    • Peter Higgins (alias James Smith) – 11 November 1869 – Hanged at Beechworth for the murder of his wife Elizabeth Wheelahan near Springhurst
    • Ah Pew – 23 May 1870 – Hanged at Castlemaine for the murder of nine-year-old Elizabeth Hunt at Glenluce, near Vaughan
    • Patrick Smith – 4 August 1870 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of his wife Mary at North Melbourne
    • Andrew Vair (Vere) – 15 August 1870 – Hanged at Ararat for murder of Amos Cheale at St Arnaud
    • James Cusack – 30 August 1870 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of his wife Anne at Woods Point
    • James Seery – 14 November 1870 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of August Tepfar at Crooked River, Gippsland
    • James Quinn – 10 November 1871 – Hanged at Beechworth for the murder of Ah Woo, near Myrtleford
    • Patrick Geary – 4 December 1871 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of a shepherd named Thomas Brookhouse near Colac in 1854
    • Edward Feeney – 14 May 1872 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of Charles Marks in the Treasury Gardens
    • James Wilkie – 20 May 1872 – Hanged at Castlemaine for the murder of Henry Pensom at Daylesford
    • Samuel Wright – 11 March 1873 – Hanged at Castlemaine for the attempted murder of Arthur Hagan (or Hogan) at Dead Horse Flat, near Eaglehawk
    • Thomas Brady – 12 May 1873 – Hanged at Beechworth for the murder of John Watt (“The Wooragee Murder”)
    • James Smith – 12 May 1873 – Hanged at Beechworth for the murder of John Watt (“The Wooragee Murder”)
    • Pierre Borbun (Barburn, Borhuu) – 20 May 1873 – Hanged at Castlemaine for the murder of Sarah Smith, the publican’s wife at the White Swan Hotel, Sunrise Gully, Kangaroo Flat
    • Oscar (or Hasker) Wallace – 11 August 1873 – Hanged at Ballarat for the rape of Mary Cook at Mount Beckworth, near Clunes
    • Ah Kat (Ah Cat) – 9 August 1875 – Hanged at Castlemaine for the murder of Friedrich Renzelmann at Bet Bet, near Dunolly
    • An Gaa – 30 August 1875 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of Pooey Waugh, committed at Vaughan
    • Henry Howard – 4 October 1875 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of Elizabeth Wright, licensee of the Frankston Hotel
    • John Weachurch (alias Taylor) – 6 December 1875 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for attempted murder of Warder Patrick Moran
    • John Duffus – 22 May 1876 – Hanged at Castlemaine, having been handed in by his wife for the rape of his eleven-year-old daughter Mary Ann near Goornong
    • James (“Donegal Jim”) Ashe – 21 August 1876 – Hanged at Ballarat for the rape of Elizabeth Reece at Burrumbeet
    • Basileo Bondietto – 11 December 1876 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of Carlo Comisto near Tallarook
    • William Hastings – 14 March 1877 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of his wife Annie near Mount Eliza
    • Thomas Hogan – 9 June 1879 – Hanged at Beechworth for fratricide at Bundalong, near Yarrawonga
    • Ned Kelly 
    • 25 – 11 November 1880 – Bushranger. Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of Constable Thomas Lonigan
    • Robert Rohan – 6 June 1881 – Hanged at Beechworth for the murder of John Shea at Yalca
    • Robert Francis Burns
    •  – 25 September 1883 – Confessed to eight murders. Hanged at Ararat for the murder of Michael Quinliven at Wickliffe
    • Henry Morgan – 6 June 1884 – Hanged at Ararat for the rape and murder of ten-year-old Margaret Nolan at Panmure
    • James Hawthorn – 21 August 1884 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for fratricide at Brighton
    • William O’Brien – 24 October 1884 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of farmer Peter McAinsh at Lancefield
    • William Barnes – 15 May 1885 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of Joe Slack at South Melbourne
    • Charles Bushby (alias Baker) – 3 September 1885 – Hanged at Ballarat for attempted murder of Det Sgt Richard Hyland near Gong Gong
    • Edward (“The Fiddler”) Hunter – 27 November 1885 – Hanged at Bendigo Prison 
    • for the murder of Jim Power at the Golden Fleece Hotel, Charlton
    • Freeland Morell – 7 January 1886 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for murder of fellow sailor John Anderson on the docks at Port Melbourne
    • George Syme – 9 November 1888 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of his mother-in-law Margaret Clifford at Lilydale
    • William Harrison – 18 March 1889 – Hanged at Bendigo for the murder of ‘Corky Jack’ Duggan at Elmore
    • Filipe Castillo – 16 September 1889 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of Annie Thornton at North Carlton
    • Robert Landells – 16 October 1889 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of Peter Sherlock at Chamber’s Paddock, about 6 km from Ringwood
    • John Thomas Phelan – 16 March 1891 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of his de facto wife Ada Hatton at St.James’ Place (now Ellis St) South Yarra
    • John Wilson – 23 March 1891 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of his fiancée Estella Marks at Darling Gardens, Clifton Hill
    • Cornelius Bourke – 20 April 1891 – Hanged at Ballarat for the murder of an elderly prisoner named Peter Stewart in the gaol at Hamilton
    • Fatta Chand – 27 April 1891 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of Juggo Mull at Healesville
    • Frank Spearin (also called John Wilson) – 11 May 1891 – Hanged at Ballarat for the rape of six-year-old Adeline Shepherd at Eastern Oval, Ballarat
    • James Johnston – 18 May 1891 – Hanged at Ballarat Gaol for murdering his wife Mary and their four children in Drummond Street North, Ballarat
    • William Coulston (Colston) – 21 August 1891 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of Mary & William Davis at Narbethong
    • Frederick Bailey Deeming[GR2] 
    •  – Murdered at least six people. Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of Emily Mather at Windsor – 23 May 1892
    • John Conder – 28 August 1893 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of Karamjit Singh near Buchan
    • Frances KnorrA picture containing text

Description automatically generated – 15 January 1894 – “The Brunswick Baby Farmer” – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of two infants
    • Ernest Knox – 19 March 1894 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of Isaac Crawcour while in the act of burglary at Williamstown
    • Fred Jordan – 20 August 1894 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of his girlfriend Minnie Crabtree at Port Melbourne
    • Martha Needle
    •  – 22 October 1894 – Murdered five people by poison. Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of Louis Juncken at 137 Bridge Road Richmond
    • Elijah Cockroft – 12 November 1894 – Hanged at Ballarat for the murder of Fanny Mutt at Noradjuha, near Natimuk
    • Arthur Buck – 1 July 1895 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of Catherine Norton at South Melbourne
    • Emma Williams – 4 November 1895 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of her two-year-old son John at Port Melbourne
    • Charles Henry Strange – 13 January 1896 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of Fred Dowse at Lakes Entrance
    • Charles John Hall – 13 September 1897 – Hanged at Bendigo for the murder of his wife Minnie at Eaglehawk
    • Alfred Archer – 21 November 1898 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of William Matthews at Strathmerton
    • William Robert Jones – 26 March 1900 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for murdering eight-year-old Rita Jones at Broadford
    • Albert Edward McNamara – 14 April 1902 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for arson causing death of his four-year-old son Bert at Carlton
    • August Tisler (Sippol) – 20 October 1902 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of Edward Sangal at Dandenong
    • James Coleman Williams – 8 September 1904 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of his employer’s wife Mary Veitch at O’Grady Street Clifton Hill
    • Charles Deutschmann – 29 June 1908 – Hanged at Ballarat for the murder of his wife Isabella Deutschmann at Dobie, near Ararat
    • Joseph Pfeiffer – 29 April 1912 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for shooting his sister-in-law Florence Whitely at 102 Mills Street, Middle Park
    • John Jackson – 24 January 1916 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of Constable David McGrath while in the act of robbing the Trades Hall
    • Antonio Picone – 18 September 1916 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of Giuseppe Lauricella at Queen Victoria Market
    • Albert Edward Budd (39) – 29 January 1918 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of his foster-sister Annie Samson at Port Melbourne
    • George Farrow Blunderfield – 15 April 1918 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of mother and daughter Margaret & Rose Taylor at Trawool
    • Colin Campbell Ross
    •  – 24 April 1922 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the Gun Alley Murder.[GR3]  Posthumously pardoned in 2007, the only instance of a pardon for a judicially executed person in Australia
    • Angus Murray (real name Henry Donnelly) – 14 April 1924 – Hanged at Melbourne Gaol for the murder of Thomas Berriman at Glenferrie Station
    • David Bennett – 26 September 1932 – Hanged at Pentridge Prison

    •  for the rape of a four-year-old girl at North Carlton (sentenced to death for a similar offence in WA in 1911). The first execution at Pentridge
    • Arnold Sodeman
    •  – 1 June 1936 – “The Schoolgirl Strangler” – Confessed to the murder of four girls. Hanged at Pentridge
    • Edward Cornelius – 22 June 1936 – Hanged at Pentridge for the murder of the Reverend Laceby Cecil at St. Saviour’s Collingwood (“The Vicarage Murder”)
    • ·       Thomas William (“Nugget”) Johnson[GR4] [GR5]  – 23 January 1939 – Hanged at Pentridge for the murder of Chares Bunney and Robert Gray at the former Windsor Castle Hotel, Dunolly
    • George Green – 17 April 1939 – Hanged at Pentridge for the murder of Phyllis and Annie Wiseman at Glenroy
    • Alfred Bye – 22 December 1941 – Hanged at Pentridge for stabbing to death Thomas Walker off Treasury Place Bye took over twenty-two minutes to die.
    • Eddie Leonski
    •  – 9 November 1942 – “The Brownout Strangler” – Hanged at Pentridge for the murder of Ivy McLeod, Pauline Thompson & Gladys Hosking at Victoria Avenue, Albert Park, Spring St Melbourne and Gatehouse St Parkville respectively
    • Norman Andrews – 19 February 1951 – Hanged at Pentridge for the murder of ‘Pop’ Kent
    • Robert David Clayton – 19 February 1951 – Hanged at Pentridge for the murder of ‘Pop’ Kent
    • Jean Lee
    •  – 19 February 1951 – Hanged at Pentridge for the murder of ‘Pop’ Kent in Dorrit Street Carlton. The last woman executed in Australia
    • Ronald Ryan
    •  – 3 February 1967 – Hanged at Pentridge for the murder of Prison Officer George Hodson. The last person executed in Australia.

     [GR1]John Giles Price (20 October 1808 – 27 March 1857), was a colonial administrator in Australia. He served as the Civil Commandant of the convict settlement at Norfolk Island from August 1846 to January 1853, and later as Inspector-General of penal establishments in Victoria, during which he was “stoned to death” by angry and disgruntled prisoners.

     [GR2]Frederick Bailey Deeming (30 July 1853 – 23 May 1892) was an English-born Australian murderer. He was convicted and executed for the murder of a woman in Melbourne, Australia. He is remembered today because he was suspected by some of being the notorious serial killer Jack the Ripper.

    Deeming was born in Ashby-de-la-ZouchLeicestershire, England, son of Thomas Deeming, brazier, and his wife Ann (née Bailey). He was a “difficult child” according to writers Maurice Gurvich and Christopher Wray. At 16 years of age, he ran away to sea, and thereafter he began a long career of crime, largely thieving and obtaining money under false pretenses. He was also responsible for the murder of his first wife Marie and his four children at Rainhill, England, on or about 26 July 1891, and a second wife, Emily Mather, at Windsor, Melbourne, on 24 December 1891.

    Less than three months elapsed between the discovery of Mather’s body in Windsor, Melbourne, in March 1892, and Deeming’s execution for her murder in May 1892; a remarkably short time by comparison to modern western legal standards. This was not only due to efficient police work, but also a result of the considerable international media interest the murder attracted. For example, it was an English journalist working for the Melbourne Argus who first approached Mather’s mother in Rainhill and delivered the news of her daughter’s murder. Another factor was Deeming’s behaviour in public, for while he often used different names, he usually drew attention to himself with behaviour variously described as aggressive, ostentatious, ingratiating and overly attentive to women.

     [GR3]The Gun Alley Murder was the rape and murder of 12-year-old Alma Tirtschke in Melbourne, Australia, in 1921. She was a schoolgirl who attended Hawthorn West High School and had last been seen alive close to a drinking establishment, the Australian Wine Saloon; under these circumstances her murder caused a sensation. More recently, the case has become well known as a miscarriage of justice.

     [GR4]Thomas William Johnson (1898 – 23/1/1939), was convicted of a double murder in Dunolly, Victoria. He confessed to two killings before being executed at Pentridge PrisonVictoria in 1939. Johnson was the fourth of eleven people to be hanged at Pentridge Prison after the closure of Melbourne Gaol in 1929.

     [GR5]George Green (1900 – 17/4/1939), was convicted of a double murder in Glenroy, Australia. He was convicted of murdering two women before being executed at Pentridge PrisonVictoria in 1939. Green was the fifth of eleven people to be hanged at Pentridge Prison after the closure of Melbourne Gaol in 1929.

    Green was found guilty of the murder of Miss Annie Wiseman, 63, and her niece Phyllis Vivienne Wiseman, 17, in their home at Glenroy on November 12, 1938.