Site NameRed Lily Lagoon
This massacre is part of a group of massacres
Aboriginal Place NameJampawurru
Language GroupMungarrayi
Present State/TerritoryNT
Colony/State/Territory at the timeSA
Police DistrictYam Creek
DateBetween 16 Jul 1882 and 30 Sep 1882
Attack Time
VictimsAboriginal People
Victim DescriptionsAboriginal
Victims Killed20
Victims Killed Notes
Attacker DescriptionsMounted Police
Attackers Killed0
Attackers Killed Notes
Weapons UsedFirearm(s)
NarrativeDuncan Campbell was murdered on Elsey Station on 15 July 1882. Reprisals followed, as Roberts (2005, p 144) described: "[Corporal George] Montague and Constable August Lucanus left Yam Creek on 16 July to investigate, collecting another constable at Pine Creek. They would be away for two months. Some forty years later, Lucanus wrote his memoirs for the Perth Daily News and his description of the search for Campbell’s killers is the only record of what occurred. At Katherine the police recruited Jacob Peterson, who was with Jonathan Little’s punitive party of 1875, and [Sam] Croker. Upon reaching Elsey [Station] they were joined by Palmer. Finding no trace of Campbell on the Strangways, they searched along the Roper. (p 145) At Red Lily Lagoon, where the party set up camp, a large number of Aboriginal people were fishing in bark canoes on the extensive network of lagoons and channels. Although they were frightened at first, one of the Aboriginal men approached the camp later in the day with some barramundi, which he exchanged for tobacco. Then Paddy and Peri [who had been with Campbell] arrived, desperately in need of tobacco. Tired of living with the tribe, they told about the murder, agreed to show where Campbell’s body was buried near Mudla Waterhole, and where the saddles and other items were hidden. They said a Mungarrayi man named Charley, from Mole Hill, had smashed Campbell's skull with a nulla nulla while he slept and Paddy had finished him off. Peri would later give evidence that Campbell verbally abused and whipped Paddy, and they were afraid that one day he would murder them both. The police tried to induce Charley to come into the camp but he was too wily. "Remembering the murders of Johnston and Daer at the hands of Mungarrayi men seven years earlier, Montague [sic] is likely to have taken revenge on the tribe. His reactions to the Daly River copper mine murders in 1884 support this theory. Lucanus said nothing about casualties in his memoirs but Harold Thonemann, whose family owned Elsey and Hodgson Downs from 1914 to 1959, wrote that ‘reprisals’ followed Campbell’s death. Thonemann took a keen interest in the local people during his time as manager and spoke with them at length about the old days. Whether the reprisals were carried out by Palmer’s party or the police, or both, is unknown." Lucanus' memoirs, however, have him camped at Red Lily Lagoon, although he admits to nothing. Reid (1990, pp 90-91) noted that in in October 1885, Charley was tracked to his camp near Chambers Creek by police and shot dead by trackers after firing a spear at Palmer, a boomerang at Power and a woomera at one of the trackers.
SourcesReid, 1990; Roberts, 2005; Morrison ; Clement & Bridge, 1991; Gunn, 1908; Merlan, 1978. (Sources PDF)
Corroboration Rating***