Site Name Barmah Lake
Aboriginal Place Name
Language Group Barababaraba or Jabulajabula or Yorta Yorta
Colony PPD
Present State/Territory VIC
Police District
Coordinates (imprecise to approx. 250m) -35.951,144.959,0
Date 1 Feb 1843
Attack Time
Aboriginal People Killed 26
Aboriginal People Killed Notes Killed: M F; Probable: M 1 F; Possible: M F; Wounded: several
Non-Aboriginal People Killed 0
Non-Aboriginal People Killed Notes Killed:M F;Wounded:MDana - speared in the thigh; F
Attacker Category Native Police
Attacker Details Henry Dana and detachment of Native Police
Motive reprisal for Aborigines killing sheep
Type Of Motive
Weapons Used Firearms / Spears
Notes Aboriginal people stole sheep led by Warry
Narrative Following the stealing of sheep by local Aborigines in the Moira Lakes region, Henry Dana and a detachment of Native Police arrived to patrol the area. The lessee of the station E.M. Curr, told Dana that large numbers of hostile Aborigines had assembled on the south bank of the Murray River. They were "daily threatening the lives of his men and attempting to take the sheep". Dana proposed a plan in which his four black troopers would stay behind to protect Moira homestead, while he and three white NCOs would attempt to seize the tribe's leaders. E.M. Curr went ahead on February 1, with a bullock dray and sheep to act as a decoy. He succeeded in enticing many of the blacks from their reed-bed shelter. Before they could spear any sheep, Curr pointed out the chief named Warry. The white NCOs charged from their hiding place and seized him, despite the fusillade of spears thrown at them. The other blacks retreated to the reeds, where they "kept their ground in a very determined manner". When Dana pursued them, he was speared in the thigh, but managed to wheel his horse around and escape. According to Michael Cannon, there is little doubt that much more occurred than was revealed. When Assistant Protector Le Souef arrived on the scene a fortnight later, he found several Aborigines had been wounded by gun-fire, one so badly, that he was not expected to live. When E.M. Curr came to write his memoirs many years later, he recalled that Dana had shown him his report on the episode. The officer, thought Curr, "omitted some incidents which I thought should have been mentioned." Dana's hearty reply was that "persons unconnected with the public service know nothing of reports ... being apt to blurt out statements more properly held in reserve." On January 5, 1844, a man called Allan, called at GA Robinson's office in Melbourne and told him 'that a number of men also women were shot by Dana's party at the Murry [sic] and children were knocked on the head with carrabines [sic]. They first sent out a party to look for the natives and then went and planted themselves in a scrub and sent two or three troopers to round or drive them like sheep to be large party carrelled; then they commenced firing and shot some of them in the river. Dana told me he had a brush with the natives. He went to the Murry [sic] by the Campaspe and returned said 20 men, one woman, five children were shot. Kelsh's overseer told me that he, Dana, said he would turn the natives out. (Robinson 5 Jan 1844) (Kelsh was the first postmaster in Melbourne).
Sources Cannon 1990: 139-140; Clark 1998d: 2
Corroboration Rating **