Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders were killed until at least 1930, often with police sanction, researchers say
That was the killing of 300 members of the Kamilaroi people at Slaughterhouse Creek, about 54km from Moree in western NSW. A group of 15 heavily armed stockmen attacked at dawn on 1 May 1838, rushing down the slopes of the ravine to the camp on the creek bed.
It came just over four months after another massacre on 26 January 1838, at Waterloo Creek, where up to 50 Kamilaroi people were killed by 26 mounted police, under the command of Major James Nunn, whose orders were to expel Aboriginal people from the region which was being opened up for farmland.
Two years earlier, another 80 Kamilaroi were killed over several weeks by squatters and mounted police.
The Waterloo Creek massacre was brought before court, but the case was dropped. Both witnesses were soldiers who had taken part in the massacre. One said three or four had been killed, the other said 40 to 50 had been “badly killed”.
Despite leaving its name on the landscape, the Slaughterhouse Creek and Waterloo Creek massacres remain a contested event in Australian colonial history.
It wasn’t the only massacre brought to trial in 1838. On 10 June, settler John Henry Fleming and 11 stockmen, armed with muskets, swords, and pistols, drove a group of 28 Wererai people into stockyards at Myall Creek, east of Slaughterhouse and Waterloo Creeks.