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The Aboriginal people of East Gippsland, Victoria, Australia, known as the Gunai/Kurnai people, fought against the European invasion of their land. The technical superiority of the Europeans' weapons gave the Europeans an absolute advantage. At least 300 people were killed, but other figures estimate up to 1,000; however, it is extremely difficult to be certain about the real death toll as so few records still exist or were even made at the time. Diseases introduced from the 1820s by European sealers and whalers also caused a rapid decline in Aboriginal numbers. The following list was compiled from such things as letters and diaries.[1]

1840 - Nuntin- unknown number killed by Angus McMillan's men
1840 - Boney Point - "Angus McMillan and his men took a heavy toll of Aboriginal lives"
1841 - Butchers Creek - 30-35 shot by Angus McMillan's men
1841 - Maffra - unknown number shot by Angus McMillan's men
1842 - Skull Creek - unknown number killed
1842 - Bruthen Creek - "hundreds killed"
1843 - Warrigal Creek - between 60 and 180 shot by Angus McMillan and his men
1844 - Maffra - unknown number killed
1846 - South Gippsland - 14 killed
1846 - Snowy River - 8 killed by Captain Dana and the Aboriginal Police
1846-47 - Central Gippsland - 50 or more shot by armed party hunting for a white woman supposedly held by Aborigines; no such woman was ever found.
1850 - East Gippsland - 15-20 killed
1850 - Murrindal - 16 poisoned
1850 - Brodribb River - 15-20 killed

There is evidence to back up these claims: Gippsland squatter Henry Meyrick wrote in a letter home to his relatives in England in 1846:

The blacks are very quiet here now, poor wretches. No wild beast of the forest was ever hunted down with such unsparing perseverance as they are. Men, women and children are shot whenever they can be met with … I have protested against it at every station I have been in Gippsland, in the strongest language, but these things are kept very secret as the penalty would certainly be hanging … For myself, if I caught a black actually killing my sheep, I would shoot him with as little remorse as I would a wild dog, but no consideration on earth would induce me to ride into a camp and fire on them indiscriminately, as is the custom whenever the smoke is seen. They [the Aborigines] will very shortly be extinct. It is impossible to say how many have been shot, but I am convinced that not less than 450 have been murdered altogether.[2]

See also

  • List of massacres in Australia
  • List of massacres of Indigenous Australians


  1. Gardner, P.D.. (2001) , Gippsland massacres: the destruction of the Kurnai tribes, 1800-1860, Ngarak Press, Essay, Victoria ISBN 1-875254-31-5
  2. Gippsland Settlers and the Kurnai Dead - Patrick Morgan - Quadrant Magazine

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