Site Name Elizabeth River, Eastern Tiers
Aboriginal Place Name
Language Group Oyster Bay
Colony VDL
Present State/Territory TAS
Police District Campbell Town
Latitude -42.037
Longitude 147.504
Date 2 Apr 1828
Attack Time night
Victims Aboriginal People
Victims Killed 17
Victims Killed Notes Killed: M 17 unspecified, F; Probable: M F; Possible: M F; Wounded: M F
Attackers Colonisers: soldiers, field police , stock keepers
Attackers Killed 1
Attackers Killed Notes Killed: M 1 -
Transport Foot
Motive Reprisal
Weapons Used Firearms, muskets, pistols, blades, bayonets, cutlass
Narrative Henry Beames, stock-keeper to settler William Robertson, was alleged to have been killed by Aborigines. The magistrate in the area, James Simpson, ordered a party of stock-keepers, soldiers (from the 40th Regiment) and field police to pursue the Aborigines. In his report to the Colonial Secretary a few days later he said that: “it is believed that 17 Aborigines were slaughtered.” The incident was reported on April 5 in the Hobart Town Courier but did not mention the killing of Aborigines. Two years later, a settler, Dr Turnbull, disputed the incident and said that “no bodies were found”. In 1835, journalist, Henry Melville, in The History of Van Diemen’s Land, provided an account of the incident from an eyewitness: “A mob of some score or so of natives, men, women, and children, had been discovered by their fires, and a whole parcel of the Colonists armed themselves, and proceeded to the spot. These advanced unperceived, and were close to the natives, when the dogs gave the alarm; the natives jumped up in a moment, and then the signal for slaughter was given, fire-arms were discharged, and those poor wretches who could not hide themselves from the light thrown on their persons by their own fires, were destroyed. The writer recollects the description of one of the scenes, as given by an eyewitness. ‘One man,’ said the informant, ‘was shot, he sprang up, turned round like a whipping top, and fell dead; - the party then went up to the fires, found a great number of waddies and spears, and an infant sprawling on the ground, which one of the party pitched into one of the fires.’”
Sources TAHO CSO 1/316:137; HTC April 5, 1828 -; BPP 1831: 49; Melville [1835] 1965: 71-2; Ryan 2012: 99. (Sources PDF)
Corroboration Rating ***