Site NameBlackfellows Bones Bore
This massacre is part of a group of massacres
Aboriginal Place NameItarlentye
Language GroupAnmatyerr
Present State/TerritoryNT
Colony/State/Territory at the timeSA
Police DistrictPort Augusta
DateBetween 1 Aug 1884 and 22 Sep 1884
Attack TimeMorning
VictimsAboriginal People
Victim Descriptions
Victims Killed75
Victims Killed Notes
Attacker DescriptionsField Police
Attackers Killed0
Attackers Killed Notes
Weapons UsedFirearm(s)
NarrativeSee also Wirmbrandt and Rembrandt Rocks and Attack Gap massacres. This was part of the reprisal for the attack on Figg and Coombes at Anna's Reservoir. Justice Olney noted in 1993: 'In the late nineteenth century the killing of livestock by Aborigines on Undoolya and surrounding areas resulted in a massacre of Aborigines at Itarlentye in the Harts Range. The place is remembered by whites as “Blackfellows Bones Bore”. In about 1890, CJ Dashwood, the Government Resident at Darwin, drafted a Bill to stop the slaughter of Aboriginal people, the “Blackfellows Bones” massacre being but one example. The Bill was blocked by the Legislative Council, the sentiment being that the development of, and pursuit of commercial profit from, the land could not proceed unless Aborigines were “subdued” (Onley 1993, pp 8-9). Charles Perkins (1975, p 19) referred to it: 'The white station owners would go on regular hunts for Aborigines. “Instead of having a kangaroo hunt today, we’ll have an Aboriginal hunt”.’ They would go out and shoot them, men, women and children. My mother saw this happen as a girl. There are two good examples amongst the many hundreds that one could choose to illustrate the atrocities that were carried out by white society through the police. A massacre took place at an area called “Blackfellows Bones” near Mt Riddock (just north of Alice Springs) which involved the shooting of Aborigines by police. The people who were involved were mainly from Mum’s own family, including her mother, her mother’s sister, and a number of aunts and uncles. Mum’s mother was very young at that time. She managed to escape but her sister was captured. An Aboriginal mother was shot while still bearing a child and carrying another child in her arms. An Aboriginal boy was shot next to her also. There were an unknown number of Aboriginal people killed in this incident which was in retaliation for cattle which were speared by some other Aboriginal people in another area.’ One reprisal party was headed by Mounted Constable William Willshire; another by Mounted Constable Thomas Daer. It is thought that Daer's party was involved in the Blackfellow Bones' massacre (Adelaide Observer, 20 Sep 1884, p 31).
SourcesOlney 1993, p 8-9; Perkins 1975; Adelaide Observer, 20 September 1884, p 31 ; Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory, 2002 . (Sources PDF)
Corroboration Rating***