Site Name Owen Springs
Aboriginal Place Name Unkown
Language Group Arrernte
Colony SA
Present State/Territory NT
Police District Port Augusta
Latitude -23.998
Longitude 133.368
Date Between 1 Jan 1887 and 31 Dec 1887
Attack Time dawn
Victims Aboriginal People: Warriors
Victims Killed 30
Victims Killed Notes Alleged cattle killers.
Attackers Colonisers: Mounted Police
Attackers Killed 0
Attackers Killed Notes
Transport Horse
Motive Reprisal
Weapons Used Martini-Henry Rifles
Narrative Alec Ross, Manager of Undoolya Station from 1880, wrote in the Adelaide Register in 1928: "The same trouble was experienced at Owen Springs and all the places mentioned on the Finke. We petitioned to the South Australian Government to allow the police officer at Alice Springs to organize a body of black trackers to assist the trooper in stopping the cattle killers. This was granted, and six of the best boys from southern stations were placed under M.C. Wurmbrandt who had them well drilled in a short time. It had a wholesome effect, and cattle killing came to an end. I have known the blacks in those days to spear 13 head of cattle at Simpson's Gap, and never took a steak off any of them. To my knowledge, they were never cruelly treated by the whites. It was the custom to kill cattle frequently for the natives, hoping that this would prevent them from spearing so many on the run. It had no effect, as they seemed determined to drive every settler out of the country, but in the native police — like the old saying, 'Set a rogue to catch a rogue — they found that there was no getting away from these boys, and they soon became quiet and useful." Sid Stanes, an old Central Australian stockman, said this in an oral history: "When they killed Harry Figg out there [1884, Anna's Reservoir] they brought all the stock in from Frew River, The Reservoir, The Stirling, they shot a lot too. Wurmbrandt shot a lot of those blacks. He was shooting them wholesale and he was recalled and Cowle took his place."
Sources NTRS 3414/Part 1, Sid Stanes, Reel 22, Side 2 (Trish Lonsdale Collection); Register (SA), 26 September 1928, p 6; Wurmbrand police record, NT Police Historical Society; Roberts T 'The Brutal Truth' The Monthly, November 2009, (Sources PDF)
Corroboration Rating ***