Site Name Glenelg
Aboriginal Place Name
Language Group Nundadjali
Colony PPD
Present State/Territory VIC
Police District
Coordinates (imprecise to approx. 250m) -37.365,141.422,0
Date Between 1 Dec 1841 and 31 Jan 1842
Attack Time
Aboriginal People Killed 6
Aboriginal People Killed Notes Killed: M 6; F; Probable: M F; Possible: M F; Wounded: M F
Non-Aboriginal People Killed 0
Non-Aboriginal People Killed Notes Killed:M F;Wounded:M F
Attacker Category Overseers employed by Bell and Gibson
Attacker Details Two heartless vagabonds, employed as overseers by Bell and Gibson
Motive Reprisal for killing of shepherd and stock theft
Type Of Motive Reprisal
Weapons Used
Notes Firearms
Narrative According to settler John G. Robertson, who took up a squatting run near Wando Vale in March 1840, in spring 1841, Robertson was summoned to Roseneath station occupied by Mr Gibson accompanied by Mrs Gibson and the overseer Mr McFarlane and Mrs McFarlane. The two women were often left to fend for themselves and they made friends with the local Aborigines, including Yarra who could speak some English. Mrs Gibson carried a broken three-barrelled pistol for protection. When Mr Gibson's shepherd was allegedly killed by Yarra, Mr Gibson sought help from his neighbour Mr Bell and from John G. Robertson. Five men started to look for Yarra and the sheep which had allegedly been taken by Yarra and ten other Aborigines. 'After a smart ride of fourteen miles we came on the main body of sheep, but no natives. The sheep were nearly all dead; such wanton destruction no one but those who saw it can imagine.... We returned to Roseneath in the morning, buried the shepherd, and six of us started in search of the natives, but never found any of them for two days. I was out on the third night; two of our horses got away; one of them was mine, and I had to walk home, which I was afterwards very glad of, for the party fell in with an unfortunate native and ran him down, and I believe shot him in retaliation (and I have no doubt he never heard of Mr Gibson's sheep). On my way home I came to an out-station's hut of my neighbour's for a drink of water, and there was our friend Yarra, the native, chopping wood for the hut-keeper. I looked at him closely, and I saw a pair of Mr Gibson's old trousers he had on at the time all smeared with blood, whether the poor shepherd's or the sheep's I know not. I was only a mile from home, and there I found Mr Gibson's bullock driver with his team and two men, splitters from Portland on his way home. I told the bullock-driver what had happened, and that I saw Yarra at the hut, and if he could take Yarra on with him in the morning in his dray, he might perhaps tell who had killed the shepherd. They called friend Yarra, and easily induced him to go with them, but when he came in sight of the station he got off the dray and was running away when one of the splitters shot him. So ended poor Yarra. After this, there was a constant war kept up between the natives and the two stations [Dergholm and Roseneath] and, I regret to say, a fearful loss of life of the poor natives by two young heartless vagabonds Gibson and Bell had as overseers when they left.'
Sources Bride 1983: 163-4; Critchett 1990: 247
Corroboration Rating **