Site NameRestdown Plains Station, Campaspe River
Aboriginal Place Name
Language GroupDjadjawurrung
Present State/TerritoryVIC
Colony/State/Territory at the timePPD
Police DistrictMelbourne
DateBetween 1 Jun 1839 and 15 Jun 1839
Attack TimeDay
VictimsAboriginal People
Victim DescriptionsAboriginal
Victims Killed40
Victims Killed NotesKilled: M WC Almost entire group. One woman and child survived. F; Wounded: M F
Attacker DescriptionsMounted Police, Settler(s), Stockmen/Drover(s), Overseer(s)
Attackers Killed2
Attackers Killed NotesKilled: M Initially two employees from Capt. Charles Hutton's Station. F; Wounded: M F
Weapons UsedFirearm(s), Pistol(s), Sword(s)
NarrativeFollowing the killing of hutkeeper James Neill and shepherd Hugh Bryan, by Aboriginal warriors and their taking about 700 sheep from Capt Charles Hutton's outstation near present day Barnadown on the Campaspe River on 22 May 1839, Hutton and three men set off in pursuit. He is alleged to have retrieved the sheep 48kms away. According to EO Randell, historian of the Campaspe Plains pastoral stations, upon his return, Hutton called on magistrate William Yaldwyn at nearby Barfold Station where a detachment of infantry was camped and asked for protection. Yaldwyn refused saying that Assistant Protector Edward Parker was in the district and it was his duty to address the issue and that foot soldiers would be of little help. Another settler Thomas Thornloe reported the details to GB Smyth Officer in Charge of the Mounted Police in Melbourne and advised that a punitive expedition should be sent against the Aborigines to 'teach them a lesson' (Randell 1982, p 289). 'According to the official version of events, a party of mounted police, led by Sgt Dennis Leary, under orders from Smyth' [and accompanied by Hutton and his overseer James Cosgrove], after four days ride, 'encountered a group of Aboriginal people about 112 kilometers from the place where Hutton's servants were killed. A pitched battle is alleged to have ensued and at least six Aborigines were killed.' The location is present day Restdown Plains station. (Cannon & MacFarlane, 1983, p 668). According to Assistant Protector E.S. Parker 'nearly 40 Aboriginal people were shot; the entire group except one woman and a child.' (Clark, 1995, p 94; Cannon & McFarlane 1983, p 668). Parker continued, 'On a review of the whole affair, I can hold but one opinion - that it was a deliberately planned, illegal reprisal on the aborigines, on principles advocated by many persons in this Colony - that when an offense is committed by unknown individuals, the tribe to which they belong should be made to suffer for it.' (Randall 1982, p 295)
SourcesRandell 1982, pp 288-99; Cannon & MacFarlane 1983, pp 668-674; Clark 1995, p 94. (Sources PDF)
Corroboration Rating***