Site Name Barrow Creek
Aboriginal Place Name
Language Group Kaititja
Colony SA
Present State/Territory NT
Police District Barrow Creek Telegraph Station
Coordinates (imprecise to approx. 250m) -21.499,133.900,0
Date Between 22 Feb 1874 and 10 Apr 1874
Attack Time Day & evening
Aboriginal People Killed 50
Aboriginal People Killed Notes Officially 11. Later accounts from eyewitnesses and/or those in positions to know range from 50 to about 90 at Skull Creek alone.
Non-Aboriginal People Killed 2
Non-Aboriginal People Killed Notes Stationmaster James Laurence Oliver Stapleton & Linesman John Franks, both ?killed by natives? at the Barrow Creek Overland Telegraph Station. Attacked 22 Feb 1874. Franks died 22/2 and Stapleton on 23/2.
Attacker Category Aboriginal people.
Attacker Details Kaititja men + "Mounted Constable [Samuel] Gason, with assistance from a constable from The Peak and staff from the Barrow Creek and Tennant Creek Telegraph Stations..."
Motive Europeans at the telegraph station stealing women from the local Aboriginal people.
Type Of Motive Reprisal
Weapons Used Firearms, spears
Notes Men, women and children killed.
Narrative After the killing of Stapleton and Franks, over the next 6 weeks, Mounted Constable Gason and co. carried out four punitive expeditions against Aboriginal people between Taylor Creek and Central Mount Stuart. The Barrow Creek Massacre cost 100 Aboriginal lives, however this number does vary between sources (some say that, although only 11 were officially recognised as killed, a higher death toll is likely and others say that ?the number of Aboriginal lives taken in reprisal for the station attack was between 50 and 90, possibly higher.?) As noted, one man put the figure at about 90 at Skull Creek alone.
Sources BCHAR 1995; SA Register, June 25 1874; The Stringer; Nettelbeck and Foster 2007: 6-7; Centralian Advocate, September 5 2017; Bell 1993:53; Wilson 2000: 270-71; Reid 1990: 62-65; Mulvaney 2003:44-51; Hartwig 1965; 265-276. (Sources PDF)
Corroboration Rating ***