Frontier Conflicts in the Australian Capital Territory

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) was part of New South Wales until transferred to the Commonwealth Government of Australia in 1911. At least one known conflict between Aboriginal people and colonists took place in what is now the ACT in 1834 near today’s Acton Peninsula (see New South Wales frontier conflicts map). This is now the site of the National Museum of Australia and the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies.

There are surprisingly few other accounts of Aboriginal resistance to European settlement on the Limestone Plains. Elizabeth McKeahnie alleged that in the 1830s Aborigines had planned to kill all the men on Moore’s station, located at the foot of Black Mountain (Gillespie 1984: 34). However, a “kind-hearted gin” warned them beforehand and the “blacks” met a warm reception. In 1827, to the south of the Limestone Plains near Berridale, Richard Brook’s station was abandoned when Aborigines attacked a party which was droving cattle (Sekavs 1988: 40). A report in The Australian in June 1828 also states that Aborigines had created havoc amongst settlers in the region but had retreated to the mountains, contrary to the traditional seasonal pattern of movement (ibid.). (Avery 1994)


Avery, Stephen 1984, Aboriginal and European Encounter in the Canberra Region available online at:

Gillespie, Lyall L 1984, Aborigines of the Canberra Region, Campbell ACT

Jackson-Nakarno, Ann 2001, The Kamberri: A History of Aboriginal Families in the ACT and Surrounds, Weereewaa History Series, Volume 1, Aboriginal History Monograph 8, Canberra

Sekavs, M 1988, ‘Aboriginal History in the Nineteenth Century’ in ACT, Heritage Seminars, Volume 1