Site NameMassacre Waterfalls
This massacre is part of a group of massacres
Aboriginal Place NameUnclear
Language GroupGarawa, Yanuywa, Gudanji
Present State/TerritoryNT
Colony/State/Territory at the timeSA
Police DistrictRoper River
DateBetween 1 Apr 1886 and 31 May 1886
Attack TimeDay
VictimsAboriginal People
Victim DescriptionsAboriginal
Victims Killed30
Victims Killed Notesmen, women and children
Attacker DescriptionsPastoralist(s)
Attackers Killed0
Attackers Killed Notes
Weapons UsedFirearm(s)
NarrativeFollowing the spearing death of Ted Lenehan in April 1886, and the reprisals that followed, there was an attack on the McArthur River head station by Aboriginal people. Once again, Tom Lynnott, with Tommy Campbell, went out in reprisal and headed for Dunganminnie Spring in the Abner Range. Tony Roberts (2005, p 181) picked up the story: "Along the steep western face of the Abner Range a narrow, almost hidden, opening leads through the cliffs into a small gorge and spring at the base of a series of falls, known as Massacre Waterfalls. There is one entrance and no exit." Quoting Traine, he wrote: "The blacks were camped around the spring when their pursuers reached the top of the cliff in the early hours of the morning…When daylight came, the natives were all killed with the exception of a little girl who was brought back to the Station and taken charge of by the wife of the Resident Magistrate who was stationed at Borroloola a few years later." Quoting Hill: "Cliff Lynott, Tom’s brother, now in a lonely grave on the Roper, telling the story in after years said that they counted the dead only in Dunganminnie. There were twenty-two." Quoting Morcom: "Charley Havey did tell me the reason [for] the name of Massacre Waterfalls, and even now up in the gorge can be seen skulls and bones bearing grim evidence of the awful slaughter enacted there." And quoting an unnamed Gudanji man: "There was a mob of Aboriginals camping here [at Dunganminnie] in the old times, poor buggers…They into them and shot them all. They shot at the whole mob. Some fellas got out, some got up the steep cliffs. The water hole was all blood—girls and boys, old women and men were shot."
SourcesRoberts, 2005, pp 180-181. (Sources PDF)
Corroboration Rating**