Site Name Campaspe Plains
Aboriginal Place Name
Language Group Djadjawurrung
Colony PPD
Present State/Territory VIC
Police District
Coordinates (imprecise to approx. 250m) -37.076,144.532,0
Date Between 1 Jun 1838 and 30 Jun 1838
Attack Time
Aboriginal People Killed 6
Aboriginal People Killed Notes Killed: M at least 6 does not spec. gender. Could be as high as 40. F; Probable: M F; Possible: M Could be as high as 40. Almost entire group. One woman and child survived. F; Wounded: M F
Non-Aboriginal People Killed 2
Non-Aboriginal People Killed Notes Killed: M Initially two employees from Capt. Charles Hutton's Station. F; Wounded: M F
Attacker Category Mounted Police
Attacker Details A party of mounted police led by Sgt Dennis O'Leary under orders from Capt. Smyth of the 28th Regt.
Motive Reprisal for stock theft
Type Of Motive Reprisal
Weapons Used Firearms
Notes Encountered a group of Aboriginal people 112 km from where Hutton's servants killed. Hutton informed Ass. Protector E.S. Parker that nearly 40 Aboriginal people killed.
Narrative Following the murder of two employees and the stealing of a number of sheep at Capt. Charles Hutton's station on the Campaspe Plains, a neighbouring squatter, W.H. Yaldwyn called on soldiers and mounted police to search for the offenders. According to the official version of events, a party of mounted police, led by Sgt. Dennis Leary, under orders from Capt. G.B. Smyth, encountered a group of Aboriginal people about 112 kilometres from the place where Hutton's servants were killed. A pitched battle ensued and at least six Aborigines were killed. Capt. Hutton is recorded as having privately informed Assistant Protector E.S. Parker that nearly 40 Aboriginal people were shot; the entire group except one woman and a child. A later account by A. Cusack, the historian of the city of Bendigo indicates that when the sheep were recovered at present day Rochester, "many had been killed, still more had their legs broken to prevent their straying and had to be destroyed. "Hutton sent word to Captain Smyth who was encamped with a small detachment of troopers from the 28th Regiment soldiers, at Soldiers' Flat on the Campaspe near Barfold. No attempt was made to discover the culprits. Under Captain Smyth, the troopers rode down to Campaspe Plains, opening fire on the first Aboriginal people to cross their path. The chase and gunfire went on for half an hour. Six Aboriginals were shot dead and many more wounded. Justice was summarily dispensed on the Campaspe in 1839. The troopers rode back to Soldiers' Flat and an uneasy peace settled over the run (Cusack 1973:10-11). Hutton gained a very bad reputation for his treatment of Aboriginal people and tried to restore his reputation in a letter that he wrote several years later, to La Trobe. He denied that either he or his men had ever fired on the Aborigines. According to historian A.G.L. Shaw, Hutton said that the Aborigines had "suddenly disappeared" and died from influenza.
Sources Clark ID 1995: 94-96; Cusack 1973: 10-11; Shaw 1996:134.
Corroboration Rating ***