Site NameAbner Range, Malakoff Creek
This massacre is part of a group of massacres
Aboriginal Place NameTongalongina (Gudanji name)
Language GroupGarawa
Present State/TerritoryNT
Colony/State/Territory at the timeSA
Police DistrictBorroloola
DateBetween 1 Jan 1892 and 31 Dec 1892
Attack TimeDawn
VictimsAboriginal People
Victim DescriptionsAboriginal
Victims Killed68
Victims Killed Notesmen, women and children
Attacker DescriptionsStockmen/Drover(s), Pastoralist(s)
Attackers Killed0
Attackers Killed Notes
Weapons UsedFirearm(s)
NarrativeRoberts (2009, np) wrote: 'Six years later [after the Lenehan murder and reprisal massacres] in 1892, a massacre occurred on top of the Abner Range, 100km from where Lenehan had been killed, where a party of 22 went after about "70 or 80 fleeing Aboriginals". The fleeing group went to the top of the Abner Range, thinking the horses would not be able to reach the top. The horsemen did find a way to the top and followed the tracks left behind to an Aboriginal camp. The men, in pairs, formed a half-circle around the sleeping camp – some of them as close as 20 metres. On the far side of the camp was a sheer, 150-metre drop. The numerous small fires were evidence of a large number of people. Curtis said he would fire first, as soon as it was light enough to see. Shooting sleeping victims at first light was a standard method. Exhausted, the occupants of the camp slept soundly. But, at times, according to Gaunt, “we could hear a piccanninny cry and the lubra crooning to it”. When it was finally light enough to see, an Aboriginal man sat up and stretched his arms. “Smith fired and the police boy with me fired at the sitting Abo. The black bounced off the ground and fell over into the fire, stone dead. Then pandemonium started. Blacks were rushing to all points only to be driven back with a deadly fire…One big Abo, over six feet, rushed toward the boy and I. I dropped him in his tracks with a well-directed shot. Later on, when we went through the camp to count the dead and despatch the wounded, I walked over to this big Abo and was astonished to find, instead of a buck, that it was a splendidly built young lubra about, I should judge, sixteen or eighteen years of age. The bullet had struck her on the bridge of the nose and penetrated to the brain. She never knew what hit her…When the melee was over, we counted fifty-two dead and mortally wounded. For mercy’s sake, we despatched the wounded. Twelve more we found at the foot of the cliff fearfully mangled.” Below the cliff was the head of a creek, which Tom Lynott named Malakoff Creek, after a bloody battle during the siege of Sevastopol in the Crimean War. When a camp was attacked in daylight, the whites were usually mounted and, unless the country was open and flat, it was often possible for a number of occupants to escape. In some cases, they watched in horror, unseen, as whites dispatched the wounded. Adults and children received a bullet to the brain, while babies – whether injured or not – were held by the ankles “just like goanna”, their skulls smashed against trees or rocks. A crying baby left behind when Garrwa people fled a camp on the Robinson River was thrown onto the hot coals of a cooking fire, still crying.' (Roberts, 2009, np).
SourcesRoberts 2009. SEE ALSO O'Brien & Adams 1999; NTTG, April 24, 1886; Costello 1930, pp 164, 167; Northern Standard, October 16, 1931, and June 1, 1934 ; Bottoms 2013; Thompson 2018. (Sources PDF)
Corroboration Rating***