Site Name Warrigal Creek Waterhole
Aboriginal Place Name
Language Group Brataualung
Colony PPD
Present State/Territory VIC
Police District Gippsland
Latitude -38.465
Longitude 147.011
Date Between 1 Jul 1843 and 31 Jul 1843
Attack Time day
Victims Aboriginal People
Victims Killed 75
Victims Killed Notes Killed: M F C; Probable: M F C; Possible: M; C Wounded:
Attackers Colonisers: Settler
Attackers Killed 0
Attackers Killed Notes Killed:M F;Wounded:M F
Transport Horse
Motive Reprisal
Weapons Used Firearms, double-barrelled Purdy
Narrative In July 1843, Ronald Macalister, nephew of squatter Lachlan Macalister, was murdered by Brataualang Aborigines, near Port Albert. It was at least the fifth murder of a white person in Gippsland within 12 months. An avenging party of 20 horsemen, known as 'The Highland Brigade' was organised by Angus McMillan, Lachlan Macalister's former overseer, and likely a close acquaintance of the murdered man, to look for the killer. The 'brigade' was 'sworn to secrecy'. The clearest accounts of the events that followed is provided by Willy Hoddinott, also known as 'Gippslander' and published in The Gap magazine in 1925 and in 1940. The brigade coming up to the blacks camped around the Waterhole at Warrigal Creek surrounded them and fired into them, killing a great number, some escaped into the scrub, others jumped into the waterhole, and, as fast as they put their heads up for breath, they were shot until the water was red with blood. I knew two blacks, who though wounded came out of the hole alive. One was a boy at the time about 12 or 14 years old. He was hit in the eye by a slug, captured by the whites, and made to lead the 'brigade' from one camp to another. Macalister used "a double-barrelled Purdy, a beautiful and reliable weapon, which in its time had done great execution." Hoddinott initially claimed that 60 Aborigines were shot but later claimed to have spoken to two survivors and revised the estimate to 150 blacks were shot: "as fast as they put their heads up for breath, they were shot until the water was red with blood." Everyman who could find a gun or a horse went after the blacks, and came up with them around a large waterhole which was surrounded by the whites. They killed the blacks as long as their ammunition lasted [some say about half an hour]. Many escaped into the bush. Others sought cover in the waterhole, but often, as one raised his head for breath, he was shot. More than a hundred blacks were killed" (Hoddinott in Bartrop 2004: 201). In reviewing every known account of the massacre in 2001, Peter Gardner considers that the Highland Brigade went on a rampage through the district, possibly over five days, killing Kurnai people at four different locations. He considers they killed a about 75 Kurnai at Warrigal Creek waterhole and a further 25 at the mouth of the Warrigal Creek where it empties into Smith Lake, and then shot 25 more at Freshwater Creek and a further 25 at Gammon Creek. In all about 150 people were slaughtered. Human bones have been found at each of these sites on several occasions. The rampage would fit the criteria of 'genocidal massacre'.
Sources Gardner 2001: 47-61; Pepper and de Araugo 1985:24; Cannon 1990:171; Shaw 1996: 133; Bartrop 2004: 99-205. (Sources PDF)
Corroboration Rating ***