Site Name Wannon River
Aboriginal Place Name
Language Group Djabwurrung or Nundadjali
Colony PPD
Present State/Territory VIC
Police District
Coordinates (imprecise to approx. 250m) -37.377,142.253,0
Date 6 Aug 1843
Attack Time
Aboriginal People Killed 6
Aboriginal People Killed Notes Killed: M at least 6 F; Probable: M F; Possible: M F; Wounded: unspecified - up to 20
Non-Aboriginal People Killed 0
Non-Aboriginal People Killed Notes Killed:M F;Wounded:M F
Attacker Category Native Police
Attacker Details A party of Native Police
Motive stock theft
Type Of Motive Reprisal
Weapons Used Firearms; some Aborigines tied up and flogged.
Notes Aborigines drove off about 180 sheep.
Narrative In August 1843, a large group of Aborigines attacked WJ Purbrick's Koroite station on Konongwootong Creek, adjoining Coleraine, and drove off 180 sheep. Captain H.E.P. Dana head of a detachment of Native Police stationed at nearby Mt Eckersley was notified of the alleged attack. With seven native police troopers, Dana followed the Aborigines into the Victoria Range. According to the Port Phillip Gazette, in the conflict that ensued: Captain Dana's troop fired simultaneously upon the savages four or five times, seven or eight of them were shot dead on the spot, and many wounded; the remainder retreated to the scrub and it is supposed about twenty of their number have been shot in the affray (Port Phillip Gazette, August 26, 1843). Eight sheep were found slaughtered but the rest were recovered. According to the same issue of the Port Phillip Gazette, the settlers were "in perfect ecstasies", declaring that a "real service has been done for them". On their return to the Native Police Depot near the Dandenong, the troopers involved gave Assistant Protector William Thomas an account of what happened: One black related to me how many had been killed, how many each shot – the gross number of 17; when done he says "Marnamat that very good that" waiting for my applause... I asked them why not take the blackfellows like white man take white man when he steal; he said "Captain say big one stupid catch them, very good shot them. You blackfellows no shoot them me handcuff you and send you to jail" Thomas Papers, Report September 1- December 1, 1843). That night Thomas asked the Native Police corporal, "Gellibrand", if they buried the bodies or made sure they were dead. He replied: "Oh no we shot and went on"... that he saw a black's gutts (sic) shot out and the Black pulled them up and shoved them in his belly and run off. Those the police caught they tied to a tree and flogged, one so unmercifully that the blood spurted over the bystanders (Thomas Papers, ibid).
Sources Port Phillip Gazette August 26 - https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/page/23203900, 1843; Thomas Papers, report 1 September – 1 December 1843; Clark 1995: 160-1.
Corroboration Rating ***