Site Name Barrow Creek
Aboriginal Place Name
Language Group Kaytetye
Colony SA
Present State/Territory NT
Police District
Coordinates (imprecise to approx. 250m) -21.499,133.900,0
Date Between 23 Feb 1874 and 10 Apr 1874
Attack Time
Aboriginal People Killed 100
Aboriginal People Killed Notes
Non-Aboriginal People Killed 2
Non-Aboriginal People Killed Notes Stationmaster James Laurence Oliver Stapleton & Linesman John Franks, both ‘killed by natives’ at the Barrow Creek Overland Telegraph Station on 23 Feb 1874.
Attacker Category
Attacker Details Natives + "Mounted Constable [Samuel] Gason, with assistance from a constable from The Peak and staff from the Barrow Creek and Tennant Creek Telegraph Stations..."
Motive Europeans at the telegraph station stealing women from the local Aboriginal people.
Type Of Motive Reprisal
Weapons Used Firearms, spears
Narrative After the killing of Stapleton and Franks, over the next 6 weeks, Mounted Constable Gason and co. carried out four punitive expeditions against Aboriginal people between Taylor Creek and Central Mount Stuart. The Barrow Creek Massacre cost 100 Aboriginal lives, however this number does vary between sources (some say that, although only 11 were officially killed, a higher death toll is likely and others say that ‘the number of Aboriginal lives taken in reprisal for the station attack was between 50 and 90, possibly higher.’)
Sources BCHAR 1995; SA Register, June 25 1874; The Stringer; Nettelbeck and Foster 2007: 6-7; Centralian Advocate, September 5 2017; Bell 1993:53; Wilson 2000: 270-71; Reid 1990: 62-65; Mulvaney 2003:44-51.
Corroboration Rating ***