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Campaspe Plains massacre
DateJune 1839
LocationPlains near the Campaspe Creek, Central Victoria
Result European victory, a massacre
Charles Hutton and Mounted Police Dja Dja Wurrung, Daung Wurrung unknown clans
Commanders and leaders
Charles Hutton Unknown
Unknown unknown
Casualties and losses
None up to 40 killed in 1st event,6 killed, unknown number wounded in 2nd event

Campaspe Plains massacre, occurred in 1839 in Central Victoria, Australia as a reprisal raid against Aboriginal resistance to the invasion and occupation of the Dja Dja Wurrung and Daung Wurrung lands.[1] Charles Hutton took over the Campaspe run, located near the border of Dja Dja Wurrung and Daung Wurrung, in 1838 following sporadic confrontations.


In April 1839 five Aborigines were killed by three white men. In response Hugh Bryan, a shepherd, and James Neill, a hut keeper were killed in May 1839 by Aborigines identified as Daung Wurrung, who had robbed a hut of bedding, clothes, guns and ammunition and also ran a flock of 700 sheep off the property, possibly as retribution for the earlier Aboriginal deaths. The Daung Wurrung were enemies of the Dja Dja Wurrung.[2]

The Massacre

Hutton immediately put together an armed party of settlers who tracked and finally caught the Aborigines with a flock of sheep 30 miles away near the Campaspe Creek. An armed confrontation between the settlers and Aborigines occurred for up to half an hour. Hutton claimed privately that nearly 40 Aborigines were killed.[2]

The following month Hutton led a party of mounted police and came upon a party of local Dja Dja Wurrung whom Hutton had previously forced off his run, even though these people had been friendly to him since his arrival. The Aboriginal camp near the Campaspe Creek was charged by Hutton and the mounted police with no warning given, with six Dja Dja Wurrung being shot in the back and killed as they tried to flee and others wounded.[1][2]

Charles Parker, the Assistant Protector of Aborigines for the region, described the massacre as: was a deliberately planned illegal reprisal on the aborigines, conducted on the principle advocated by many persons in this colony, that when any offence is committed by unknown individuals, the tribe to which they belong should be made to suffer for it.[2]

George Robinson described Charles Hutton and his attitude to the blacks in his journal of 24 January 1840:

Mr H. avowed [his approach to the natives] to be terror; to keep the natives in subjection by fear, and to punish them wholesale, that is, by tribes and communities. If a member of a tribe offend, destroy the whole. He believed they must be exterminated.[2]

No official action was taken against Hutton.

See also

  • Dja Dja Wurrung people
  • Daung Wurrung people
  • List of massacres in Australia
  • List of massacres of Indigenous Australians


  1. 1.0 1.1 Ian D. Clark, Scars in the Landscape. A Register of Massacre Sites in Western Victoria 1803 - 1859, Aboriginal Studies Press, 1995, ISBN 0-85575-281-5
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Bain Attwood, pp7-9 My Country. A history of the Djadja Wurrung 1837-1864, Monash Publications in History:25, 1999, ISSN 08180032

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