Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Warriors

Listed below are some of the better-known Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander warriors who defended their lands in the 19th and early 20th centuries and examples of where you can find information about them. While some information is on the internet, other sources are books, CDs, encyclopaedias, films, journal articles and news items. Enjoy searching for more information about these warriors yourself in libraries and online. One useful book is Aboriginal Heroes of the Resistance: From Pemulwuy to Mabo, published by Action for International Development, Surry Hills New South Wales, 1999. The National Library of Australia’s online database, Trove at http://trove.nla.gov.au is an excellent source for newspaper articles, audio recordings, books, videos and other sources on a wide range of topics. You might also find information about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander warriors in the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) databases. You can find AIATSIS at http://www.aiatsis.gov.au

Bussamarai

Bussamarai was a resistance leader in southern Queensland who fought to save his people’s land on what is today the border of Queensland and New South Wales. More about his life and struggle can be found in Patrick Collins 2002, Goodbye Bussamarai: the Mandandanji Land War South Queensland 1842–52, University of Queensland Press. Read more here: http://www.goodbyebussamarai.com

Calyute

Calyute (flourished 1833–1840), also known as Kalyute, Galyute or Wongir, was an Aboriginal resistance leader of the Pinjareb or Murray River tribe 100 kilometres south of Perth, Western Australia. He was involved in a number of incidents including the Battle of Pinjarra in 1834 in which Aboriginal people and a soldier were killed. For information on Calyute see, for example:

the entry on Calyute in Horton, David ed. 1994, The Encyclopaedia of Aboriginal Australia (EAA), Vol. 1, pp. 176–177

Neville Green, Calyute (flourished 1833–1840), in the Indigenous Australia section, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University at: http://ia.anu.edu.au/biography/calyute-12832

Dhakiyarr Wirrpanda

Dhakiyarr Wirrpanda (c. 1900–1934) was a Yolgnu Aboriginal leader born near Blue Mud (Caledon) Bay in the Northern Territory. He was charged with the murder of Constable Albert Stewart McColl. After a controversial Darwin trial, Dhakiyarr Wirrpanda was sentenced to death. As the case was heard in the Northern Territory, an appeal, the first relating to an Aboriginal person, was made to the High Court of Australia, which ordered his release and return to Country on 8 November 1934. The case, which overturned the verdict of the Northern Territory jury and the judge’s death sentence, brought into focus the unfair treatment of Aboriginal people and their rights to fair trials. Shortly after his release, Dhakiyarr Wirrpanda disappeared. What happened to him is still a mystery, although it is possible that he was murdered. For background on Dhakiyarr Wirrpanda’s story and court case see for example:

Mickey Dewar, 'Dhakiyarr Wirrpanda (1900–1934)', an entry in the Indigenous Australia section, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University at: http://ia.anu.edu.au/biography/dhakiyarr-wirrpanda-12885

Dhakiyarr’s case available online on the National Archives of Australia’s website at: http://uncommonlives.naa.gov.au/dhakiyarr-wirrpanda/the-case/dhakiyarrs-case.aspx accessed on 8 August 2015 and

Exploring Democracy, Dhaikiyarr Wirrpanda, Museum of Australian Democracy, Old Parliament House, Canberra at: http://explore.moadoph.gov.au/people/dhakiyarr-wirrpandaaccessed on 8 August 2015.

Dundalli

Dundalli (c. 1820–1855) was an Aboriginal resistance leader born in the Blackall Range north-west of Moreton Bay, Queensland. On the anniversary of his public hanging on 5 January 1855, a remembrance service was held at St Mark's Church, Buderim, Queensland. The same day the Frontier Wars Installation was officially opened in the Buderim Nature Refuge. Some sources for Dundalli's story are:

David Lowe 1994, ‘Dundalli of the Ningy-Ningy,’ in Forgotten Rebels: Black Australians Who Fought Back, pp. 27–31, available online on Dr Gary Foley’s Kooriweb at  http://www.kooriweb.org/foley/resources/pdfs/127.pdf accessed on 27 July 2015

Libby Connors’ 2005 entry on Dundalli in the Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University at  http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/dundalli-12895 accessed on 27 July 2015

Dale Kerwin 2010, ‘Aboriginal heroes: episodes in the colonial landscape,’ Queensland Historical Atlas, available online at: http://www.qhatlas.com.au/content/aboriginal-heroes-episodes-colonial-landscapeaccessed on 27 July 2015

Tony Moore, ‘Queensland’s hidden warrior,’ Brisbane Times, 3 May 2015, available at http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/queensland-historys-hidden-warrior-20150502-1my8ac.html accessed on 27 July 2015

Libby Connors 2015, Warrior: a Legendary leader’s dramatic life and violent death on the colonial frontier, Allen & Unwin

Jandamarra (‘Pigeon’)

Jandamarra (‘Pigeon’) (c. 1870–1897) was a Bunuba warrior who led an armed insurrection against Europeans who attempted to set up a large station on Bunuba land in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. For more information on Jandamarra see for example:

the entry by Howard Pedersen on Jandamarra in the Indigenous Australia section, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University at: http://ia.anu.edu.au/biography/jandamarra-8822

David Lowe 1994, ‘Jandamarra of the Bunuba,’ in Forgotten Rebels: Black Australians Who Fought Back, pp. 38–45, available online on Dr Gary Foley’s Kooriweb at:  http://www.kooriweb.org/foley/resources/pdfs/127.pdf accessed on 27 July 2015

Howard Pedersen and Banjo Woorunmurra 1995, Jandamarra and the Bunuba resistance, Magabala Books, Broome, Western Australia

Craig Cormick 1998, 'Jandamarrajandamarrajandamarra!' in Unwritten Histories, Aboriginal Studies Press, pp. 137–149

W Campbell Charnley 2010, Pigeon, Hesperian Press, Carlisle, Western Australia

Kevin Moran 2011, Sand and Stone: Pigeon, Hesperian Press, Carlisle, Western Australia

Mark Greenwood 2013, Jandamarra, Allen & Unwin, Crow's Nest, New South Wales

Kickerterpoller

Kickerterpoller (Birch’s Tom, Black Tom, Tom Birch)(d. 1832), a contemporary of Musquito (see below), was a resistance fighter and key leader in the Tasmanian Black War in the 1820s. He also joined George Augustus Robinson’s ‘Friendly Mission’. Less well-known than some of his compatriots, calls have been made for Kickerterpoller to be memorialised. More information on Kickerterpoller can be found in sources such as:

Cassandra Pybus, ‘A Self-Made Man’ in Reading Robinson: Companion Essays to George Robinson’s Friendly Mission, Monash University Publishing, 2012

Lyndall Ryan, Tasmanian Aborigines: A History Since 1803, Allen & Unwin, 2012

Robert Cox, ‘Black Tom Birch: Fact and Fiction,’ Tasmanian Historical Research Association, Minutes, 12 June 2012

Nicholas Clements, The Black War: Fear, Sex and Resistance in Tasmania, University of Queensland Press, 2014

Major

Major (c. 1880s–1908) was an Aboriginal resistance fighter in the Northern Territory. You can find information about him in The Encyclopaedia of Aboriginal Australia, Vol. 2, p. 643. 

Mannalargenna

Mannalargenna, or Mannalargenner, was a Tasmanian Aboriginal warrior, leader, skilled diplomat and shaman. He waged war on colonists after sealers betrayed him. You can find more information about him in sources like:

The Encyclopaedia of Aboriginal Australia, Vol. 2, p. 654

Lyndall Ryan, Tasmanian Aborigines–A History Since 1803, Allen & Unwin, 2012

Nicholas Clements, The Black War: Fear, Sex and Resistance in Tasmania, Queensland University Press, 2014

Maulboyhenner

Maulboyhenner was a young Aboriginal warrior from Tasmania. You can read more about him in books like:

Lyndall Ryan’s, Tasmanian Aborigines–A History Since 1803, Allen & Unwin, 2012, or Clare Land's 'Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner: the involvement of Aboriginal people from Tasmania in key events of early Melbourne', published in 2014, or on  http://www.treatyrepublic.net.

A ceremony to dedicate the new memorial to Maulboyhenner and Tunnerminnerwait at the corner of Victoria and Franklin Streets, Melbourne, Victoria was held on 11 September 2016. See Carolyn Webb's story in The Age at  http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/monument-to-aboriginals-1842-execution-first-step-to-recognising-brutal-past-20160911-grdvbx.html

Montpeliater

Montpeliater, or Montpelliatta, was a leader of an intrepid band of Tasmanian Aborigines. You can find out more about him in books like:

Lyndall Ryan, Tasmanian Aborigines–A History Since 1803, Allen & Unwin, 2012

Henry Reynolds, Forgotten War, NewSouth Publishing, 2013, and Nicholas Clements , The Black War: Fear, Sex and Resistance in Tasmania, Queensland University Press, 2014

 

Multuggerah

In 1843 Multuggerah, a Jaggerah (Jagera) warrior, led his people against Europeans in the Battle of One Tree Hill in the Lockyer Valley near Toowoomba, Queensland. Today this hill is known as Table Top or Tabletop Mountain. You can find more about Multuggerah on websites like: http://www.thechronicle.com.au/news/apn-plaque-honours-aborigina/2728/
 http://monumentaustralia.org.au/themes/conflict/indigenous/display/92754-multuggerah http://www.thechronicle.com.au/news/aboriginal-warrior-battled-elite-british-soldiers/3020583/

Dr Mark Copland has created a blog on Multuggerah at: https://multuggerahway.blogspot.com/ He has also written about him in an opinion piece, 'Multuggerah Way honours shared past', The Queensland Times, 17 May 2016 at: https://www.qt.com.au/news/multuggerah-way-honours-shared-past/3027219/

Dr Ray Kerkove has written extensively on Multuggerah. Examples of his work are: Report: Indigenous Use and Indigenous History of Rosewood Scrub for Jagara Daran, 2015 and Toowoomba Bypass: Lockyer Valley and Helidon with special attention to events surrounding the 'Battle of One Tree Hill', A Report for Jagera Daran, 2015. A radio interview about Multuggerah by Dr Kerkove was broadcast on on 4ZZZFM on 29 October 2017.

Two articles by Frank Uhr on the Battle of One Tree Hill and Multuggerah appeared in the Journal of the Royal Historical Society of Queensland in 2001 and 2003 respectively:

'The Raid of the Aborigines: a brief overview and background to the poem', Journal of the Royal Historical Society of Queensland, Vol. 17, No. 12, (November 2001), pp. 559–561, and

'September 12, 1843, the Battle of One Tree Hill: a turning point in the conquest of Moreton Bay, Journal of the Royal Historical Society of Queensland, Vol. 18, No. 6, (May 2003), pp. 241–255. Search the National Library of Australia's Trove at trove.nla.gov.au for online and other references.

Musquito

Musquito (c. 1780–1825) was an Aboriginal leader, most likely of Eora descent, born on the north shore of Port Jackson (Sydney), New South Wales. Aboriginal warriors, Musquito and Bulldog, were active in the Hawksbury district near Sydney. They were captured and sent to Norfolk Island. While Bulldog apparently made it back to his Country, Musquito was transported to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) where he was forced to work as a convict servant. Later he was employed as a tracker of bushrangers. He also became famous as a bushranger himself while in that colony. Between 1820 and 1823 Musquito led local Aborigines in a series of raids and reprisals against colonists. He evaded capture until 1824. Despite earlier official praise for his skills and a promise that he would be returned to Sydney as a free man, he never returned to New South Wales. Instead he was hanged in 1825. You can find more about this fascinating man’s story in Naomi Parry’s entry on him, ‘Musquito (1780–1825)’, in the Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu/biography/musquito-13124/text123749, published first in hardcopy 2005, accessed online 18 April 2015. There are other online and hardcopy sources such as Kristyn Harman’s book, Aboriginal Convicts: Australian, Khoisan, and Maori Exiles, NewSouth Books, 2012, and Michael Powell's Musquito: Brutality and Exile–Aboriginal Resistance in New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land, Fullers Bookshop, November 2016.

Nemarluck

Nemarluck (1911–1940) was an Aboriginal leader born c. 1911 in the Daly River Region of the Northern Territory. In the 1930s Aboriginal resistance took place on both sides of the Northern Territory and Western Australian borders. You can find information about Nemarluck in sources like

 

The Encyclopaedia of Aboriginal Australia, Vol. 2, pp. 770–771 and Bruce Shaw’s entry on him, ‘Nemarluck (1911–1940)’, in the Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, at: http://ia.anu.edu.au/biography/nemarluk-11222

The National Archives of Australia also has files on Nemarluck as does the Northern Territory Police Museum and Historical Society Inc.

 

Pemulwuy

Dubbed as ‘the Aboriginal Ned Kelly’, Pemulwuy (1750–1802) was a Dharug warrior, born near Botany Bay on the northern side of the George’s River, Sydney, New South Wales. He strongly resisted the incursions of colonists into his people’s territory. There are entries about him in:

The Encyclopaedia of Aboriginal Australia, Vol. 2, p. 854
,

JK Kohen's entry on him in the Indigenous section, Australian Dictionary of Biography at: http://ia.anu.edu.au/biography/pemulwuy-13147

and in the Dictionary of Sydney. Search the Dictionary of Sydney at www.dictionaryofsydney.org/entry/pemulwuy or under ‘People’.


Jonathan Lim's book, The Battle of Parramatta–21 to 22 March 1797, Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2016, revisits the story of Pemulwuy, using knowledge of the geography and history of the arrival of Europeans at and around Parramatta as well as little-known historian sources.

Tarerenorer

Tarerenorer (c. 1800–1831), also known as Tarenorere or Walyer, was a Tommegine woman born near Emu Bay, Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania). As a teenager she was abducted by Aborigines from the Port Sorell area, then sold to sealers. In 1828, by now proficient in the use of firearms, Tarerenore returned to her country in north Tasmania where she trained Aboriginal warriors to use guns. She and her people made many attacks on colonists, their bullocks and sheep. Eventually she was captured, isolated and sent to Gun Carriage (Vansitarrt) Island where she became ill with influenza. Tarerenore died from the disease on 5 June 1831. You can read more about this amazing Aboriginal woman in Vicki maikuten Matson-Green’s article, ‘Tarenorerer (1800–1831)’, on Indigenous Australia at: http://ia.anu.edu.au/biography/tarenorerer-13212. This entry was originally in the Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University.

Tongerlongerter

Tongerlongerter was one of the leading Tasmanian resistance leaders, shot in the arm during an ambush. The shattered limb had to be amputated above the elbow. You can find information about him in books like:

Lyndall Ryan, Tasmanian Aborigines–A History Since 1803, Allen & Unwin, 2012

Henry Reynolds, Forgotten War, NewSouth Publishing, 2013, and

Nicholas Clements, The Black War: Fear, Sex and Resistance in Tasmania, Queensland University Press, 2014.

 

Trugannini

Trugannini (c . 1812–8 May 1876), a Palawa woman, was the daughter of Mangana, head of the Bruny Island Aboriginal people (also spelt a number of other ways such as Trugernanner, Trugernena, Truganina, Trugannini, Trucanini, Trucaminni and Trucaninny) and widely known with the nickname Lalla(h) Rookh. An entry on Truganini from the Australian Dictionary of Biography, under Trugernanner (Truganini) (1812–1876) by Lyndall Ryan and Neil Smith, is in the section on Indigenous Australia at: http://ia.anu.edu.au/biography/trugernanner-truganini-4752

Tunnerminnerwait

Tunnerminnerwait(e) (c.1812–1842), also known as Pevay, Jack of Cape Grim or Jack Napoleon) was a Tasmanian Aboriginal resistance fighter. Tunnerminnerwait(e) was born into the Parperloihener people of Robbins Island, Tasmania near the site of the horrific massacre of Aboriginal people in February 1828 at Cape Grim. In 1830 Tunnerminnerwait joined George Augustus Robinson’s ‘Friendly Mission’ after the decimation of the former’s tribe. Tunnerminnerwait and other Aboriginal people attempted to kill Robinson in 1832. In 1834 Tunnerminnerwait was taken to Flinders Island. Robinson took him and Maulboyheener to Port Phillip (Melbourne), Victoria in 1839 where they were convicted in 1841 of the murder of two whale hunters after a six-week battle with colonists in the Dandenongs and Mornington Peninsula. In January 1842 Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner were the first two people to be publicly executed in Melbourne. At the time they were seen as ‘bloodthirsty outlaws’ but today many people view them as brave freedom fighters who tried to save their country and people from invading colonists. In recent years, the City of Melbourne voted to erect a memorial in their honour. A ceremony to dedicate the memorial on the corner of Victoria and Franklin Streets, Melbourne was held on 11 September 2016.

See Carolyn Webb's story in The Age at: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/monument-to-aboriginals-1842-execution-first-step-to-recognising-brutal-past-20160911-grdvbx.html

More information about Tunnerminnerwait can be found in such sources as:

David Lowe, ‘Jack Napoleon of Cape Grim,’ in Forgotten Rebels: Black Australians Who Fought Back, 1994, pp. 21–26, available online on Dr Gary Foley’s Kooriweb at: http://www.kooriweb.org/foley/resources/pdfs/127.pdf accessed on 27 July 2015

University of Tasmania, The Companion to Tasmanian History, 2006 at:  http://www.utas.edu.au/library/companion_to_tasmanian_history/P/Pevay.htm, accessed on 27 July 2015

Janine Roberts 2008, Jack of Cape Grim: A British Invasion and Aboriginal Resistance, IMPACT Investigative Media Productions

Lyndall Ryan, Tasmanian Aborigines: A History Since 1803, Allen & Unwin, 2012

Nicholas Clements, The Black War: Fear, Sex and Resistance in Tasmania, University of Queensland Press, 2014

Clare Land, Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner: the involvement of Aboriginal people from Tasmania in key events of early Melbourne, City of Melbourne, 2014

Murray Johnson and Ian McFarlane, Van Diemen’s Land: An Aboriginal History, University of New South Wales Press, 2015

‘Melbourne’s invisible Indigenous history’, 774 ABC Melbourne, 6 July 2015 at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-07-06/an-invisible-history-of-melbourne/6587162 accessed on 27 July 2015.

Windradyne

Windradyne (1800–1829), sometimes called ‘Saturday’, was an Aboriginal warrior and resistance leader of the Wiradjuri Nation in New South Wales. Some sources for information about him are

Mary Coe, Windradyne, A Wiradjuri Koorie, Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra, 1989

The Encyclopaedia of Aboriginal Australia, Vol. 2, pp. 1188–1189

David Andrew Roberts, Windradyne (1800–1829), in the Indigenous Australia section, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, at: http://ia.anu.edu.au/biography/windradyne-13251

T Salisbury and P Gresser, Windradyne of the Wiradjuri, Sydney, 1971.

 

Woorady

Woorady (Wooraddy)
 was an Aboriginal warrior, husband of Trugannini (1812?–1876) and ‘envoy’ for George Augustus Robinson (1791–1866), ‘protector’ of Aborigines. More about Woorady can be found in sources such as:

Lyndall Ryan, Tasmanian Aborigines: A History Since 1803, Allen & Unwin, 2012

Nicholas Clements, The Black War: Fear, Sex and Resistance in Tasmania, University of Queensland Press, 2014

Murray Johnson and Ian McFarlane, Van Diemen’s Land: An Aboriginal History, University of New South Wales Press, 2015

 

Yagan 

Yagan (c. 1795–1833) was an Aboriginal warrior from Western Australia who played a key role in resistance around Perth. You can find more about Yagan from sources like:

 

Alexandra Hasluck 1967, ‘Yagan (?–1833), in the Indigenous Australia section, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian National University, at: http://ia.anu.edu.au/biography/yagan-2826

Chris Munro, ‘A Journey of Resistance’, Tracker, Vol. 2, Issue 12, April 2012, pp. 54–55