Site Name Rosewood and Lissadell massacres, Ord River- East Kimberley
Aboriginal Place Name
Language Group Kitja, Worla, Jaru, Mirrawong
Colony WA
Present State/Territory WA
Police District Argyle - East Kimberley
Latitude -16.662
Longitude 128.588
Date Between 22 Sep 1896 and 30 Jan 1897
Attack Time day
Victims Aboriginal People
Victims Killed 50
Victims Killed Notes 50-80
Attackers Colonisers: Police, Aboriginal assistants
Attackers Killed 0
Attackers Killed Notes
Transport Horse
Motive Reprisal
Weapons Used Snider, Winchesters, Revolvers
Narrative 'From 22 September 1896 until January 1897 PCs Rhatigan and Freeman and four native assistants (Pluto, Corriway, Paddy and Wallily) patrolled Rosewood, Ord River and Lissadell runs on several different patrols. Their diaries describe deaths under the guise of ‘skirmishes’ and ‘resisting arrest’ or ‘escaping’. Legal use of firearms was unchecked, there were never attempts to arrest ‘ringleaders’, and many people were shot only for ‘being in possession of beef’, with the evidence often found after people had been killed. Others were killed simply because they were there. On every patrol a fight ensued with an unspecified number of Aboriginal people shot – often referred to in the record as ‘several’. Police did, however, record expending several hundred rounds of ammunition in what would have been recurrent shooting. In another case Orme reported to Phillips of one of PC Rhatigan’s late January 1897 patrols when he arrested a total of seven people but expended sixty rounds of ammunition in doing so.' [Summary from Owen 2016, 364-67.]
Sources WAPD, ‘Copy of PC Rhatigan’s Journal for September 1896’, Argyle Camp, 15 September 1896, SROWA, Cons.430, File 3689/1896; WAPD, Copy of PC Freeman’s Journal from Wyndham to Argyle Police camp, 24 October 1896, SROWA, Cons.430, File 3688/1896; WAPD, Copy of PC Rhatigan’s Journal whilst travelling from Argyle camp to Wyndham from the 5 October to the 22 October 1896’, 5 October 1896, SROWA, Cons.430, File 3690/1896; WAPD, PC Freeman’s Journal whilst on Patrol on Ord River and Lissadell Runs’, 25 December 1896, SROWA, Cons.430, File 1344/1897; WAPD, ‘PC Freeman’s Journal whilst on Patrol on Ord River and Lissadell Runs’, 6 January 1897, SROWA, Cons.430, File 1344/1897; WAPD, ‘Journal of P.C. Rhatigan patrolling the Argyle, Lissadell and Ord River Stations - January 17 to 22, 1897’, Argyle Police Camp, 15 January 1897, SROWA, Cons.430, File 1345/1897. (Sources PDF)
Corroboration Rating **