Site NameAbner Range
This massacre is part of a group of massacres
Aboriginal Place NameUnclear
Language GroupGarawa, Ngandji
Present State/TerritoryNT
Colony/State/Territory at the timeSA
Police DistrictRoper River
DateBetween 1 Apr 1886 and 31 May 1886
Attack TimeDay
VictimsAboriginal People
Victim Descriptions
Victims Killed25
Victims Killed NotesMen, women & children.
Attacker DescriptionsAboriginal Tracker(s), Pastoralist(s)
Attackers Killed0
Attackers Killed NotesTed Lenehan, a stockman on McArthur River Station.
Weapons UsedFirearm(s), Spear(s)
NarrativeRoberts (2009, np) wrote: ‘Ted Lenehan (a stockman on McArthur River Station) was "hunting blacks" in March 1886 when he was killed (speared). His body was dismembered in a practice performed by the Ngarnji tribe"‘for particularly violent men, to prevent their spirit from continuing to perform evil deeds". After Lenehan’s death, Sir John Cockburn, minister for the Northern Territory in the Downer Government in South Australia, , ordered Constable William Curtis and five native police based at the Roper River to investigate. In May 1886, they met with the station manager, Tom Lynott, and 15 stockmen, including the notorious Tommy Campbell. [There were] Aboriginal stockmen from Queensland, whose tracking skills were invaluable…One of the massacres that followed occurred on top of the Abner Range, a hundred kilometres from where Lenehan had been killed. After picking up the fresh tracks of about 70 or 80 fleeing Aboriginals, the party of 22 galloped after them. The blacks were travelling so fast that some of the old ladies couldn’t keep up and were left behind. Charley Gaunt, one of the white stockmen, later wrote a detailed account of what happened, but was silent on whether the old ladies were shot.'
SourcesRoberts 2009; O'Brien & Adams 1999; NTTG, April 24, 1886 ; Costello 1930, pp 164, 167; Northern Standard, October 16, 1931, ; May 29, 1934 and June 1, 1934 ; Bottoms 2013. (Sources PDF)
Corroboration Rating***