Site Name Mt Bryan, near Burra
Aboriginal Place Name
Language Group
Colony SA
Present State/Territory SA
Police District Gawler
Latitude -33.538
Longitude 138.857
Date Between 10 Jul 1844 and 20 Jul 1844
Attack Time dawn
Victims Aboriginal People
Victims Killed 6
Victims Killed Notes
Attackers Colonisers: overseer, stockmen
Attackers Killed 0
Attackers Killed Notes
Transport Horse
Motive Reprisal
Weapons Used Firearms, muskets, swords, pistols, stockwhips
Narrative In July 1844, a party of Aborigines made off with 200 sheep belonging to Mt Bryan grazier, John Hallett. After consulting with Hallett, the overseer at Mr Bryan station, William Carter organised a dawn raid on the Aboriginal camp. The party was led by Carter and included Charles Spratt, William Smith and James Pritchard. At dawn Carter raced into the campsite and after alleging that a waddy was thrown at him, opened fire and ordered the others to do the same. The others later said that they either fired into the ground or into the air to frighten the Aboriginal camp. Aboriginal Protector Matthew Moorhouse investigated the incident and sought Aboriginal witnesses, one of whom said that six Aboriginal people were killed, 'namely two men, two women and two children, and two women had been wounded.' Another said the death toll was higher. Carter told magistrates George Hawker and Henry Price, that he had killed two persons '...a man and a woman, the woman was with child.' As the pregnant woman lay wounded, Carter set his dog on to her, 'which tore open her belly and the womb - he took the child out of the womb and gave it to his dog to eat.' Carter did not face arrest for his actions. Rather the magistrates considered that 'the whites... appear to have acted with great moderation'. Hallett insisted that an Aboriginal man be arrested for stealing the 200 sheep and in due course, the Aboriginal youth, Pintia Ngaltya, alias Kangaroo Jack was arrested, charged and tried before the Supreme Court for stealing sheep at Mt Bryan station. However he was not identified as the culprit and was acquitted. He maintained throughout the trial that he was not present at the incident. As historian Alan Pope points out, the court case brought to public knowledge the ruthless behaviour of stockmen on the SA frontier even when Aboriginal evidence was accepted in the SA courts, the only Australian colony to do so at the time. Carter escaped arrest and after carrying out similar atrocities at Mt Remarkable in the north and in the south east, he slipped across the border to Portland and boarded the 'Alpha' for Launceston in Van Diemen's Land and from there he returned to England.
Sources Pope 1989:113-119: Southern Australian, 3 December 1844. (Sources PDF)
Corroboration Rating **