Some Known Frontier Conflicts in the Northern Territory

The Northern Territory of Australia was officially part of colonial New South Wales from 1825 to 1863 and was briefly called the Colony of North Australia from February to December 1846. The Northern Territory was officially part of the colony of South Australia from 1863 to 1 January 1911 when it separated from South Australia. The list below includes locations of conflicts that took place geographically in the area that we know today as the Northern Territory, although, apart from the incident at Attack Creek in 1860, up to 1 January 1911 the locations were officially in the Northern Territory of the colony of South Australia, except for places that were officially located in the colony of Queensland from 12 April 1862, like Annandale Station, the vicinity of which was the site of a massacre of Aboriginal people in 1879. Additional locations and summaries of conflicts is being added to this list as new information is found.

Some of the main sources for information about conflicts that happened in the Northern Territory are included in such hard copy and online publications as:

Coniston Massacre, National Museum of Australia at http://www.nma.gov.au/exhibitions/first_australians/resistance/coniston_massacre, accessed on 29 August 2016

Frontier Justice: A History of the Gulf Country to 1900, Tony Roberts, University of Queensland Press, 2005

In the Name of the Law: William Willshire and the Policing of the Australian Frontier, Amanda Nettelbeck and Robert Foster, Wakefield Press, Kent Town, South Australia, 2007

‘Northern and Western Australia’ in The Australian Frontier Wars 1788–1838, John Connor, University of New South Wales Press, 2002, pp. 68–83

A Wild History: Life and Death on the Victoria River Frontier, Darrell Lewis, Monash University Publishing, 2012

Yijarni: True Stories from Gurindji Country, Erika Charola and Felicity Meakins eds, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, Canberra, 2016

For more references see the Bibliography.

Map: To see a graphical representation of conflicts that happened in the Northern Territory, please follow this link. All coordinates are approximate. Summaries of what happened at each place are being added gradually to the Northern Territory map view as time permits. Anyone seeking more information in the meantime can contact the author through the online email on this site.

WARNING: Some of the placenames listed below are offensive and may be upsetting to some readers. Derived from geographical names registers, historic and modern-day maps and other primary and secondary sources, these placenames reflect the attitudes, racism and activities of those people who gave these places English names during the frontier period.

DateLocation
25 Jun 1860Attack Creek (Goaranalki), Stuart Highway, 74 kms north of Tennant Creek, NT
Warramunga warriors attacked John McDouall Stuart and party. No known deaths or injuries but party forced to leave.
1872Coast Track (now called the Savannah Way), Gulf Country, NT
Multiple killings of Aboriginal people
1872Newcastle Waters area, NT
1873North of Pine Creek, NT
1874Skull Creek, 50 kms south of Barrow Creek, NT
30 Jun 1875Roper Bar, near Roper River, NT, Charles Johnston killed by Aboriginal people.
7 Aug 1875Roper Bar, near Roper River, NT, Abram Daer killed by Aboriginal people
1875Roper River (Mole Hill to mouth), NT, punitive expeditions after Charles Johnston's murder
c. 1875Irpmankara massacre, NT
2 Dec 1877Coast Track (now called Savannah Way), near Nicholson River, NT, murder of William Batten
1877Coast Track (now called the Savannah Way), near Nicholson River, NT
Punitive expeditions after William Batten's murder
1877Corella Downs and vicinity, NT, Aboriginal people killed in a punitive expedition after murder of Fred Jeffries and his Aboriginal assistant
1877Valley of Springs Station near Cox River, NT, Aboriginal people killed after Bird murder
1878Douglas River, north-west of Pine Creek, NT
13 Dec 1878Near Limmen Bight River, NT, murder of William Travers by Aboriginal people
1878Coast Track (now called the Savannah Way) near Limmen Bight River, NT, Aboriginal people killed in punitive expedition after Travers murder
1878Near Daley River, NT
20 May 1880Coast Track (now called the Savannah Way), Limmen Bight River, NT, murder of John Barry
2 Jun 1881Coast Track (now called the Savannah Way), Rosie Creek, NT, Patrick McNamara killed by Aboriginal people
1880sCalvert Hills, NT
1880sWollogorang Station (at the Pocket), NT, Aboriginal men, women and children shot in reprisal for spearing cattle.
c. 1880sMcPherson Creek (at Kawurrungkuma), NT, old Aboriginal rainmakers among people shot. Reason(s) for shootings not recorded.
c. 1880sWearyan River, near Manangoora, NT, Aboriginal people killed while gathered for a funeral ceremony. Reason for killings not reported.
c. 1880sSeven Emus Creek, near Manguwarruna, NT, Aboriginal people shot. Reason(s) for shootings not recorded.
c. 1880sCalvert Downs (at Waningirrinyi Waterhole), NT, Aboriginal people killed. Reasons for killings not recorded. Bones of dead recovered and placed in a cave.
c. 1880sCalvert Downs (at Mawurra Cave), NT, Aboriginal people killed. Reasons for killings not recorded.
c. 1880sCalvert Downs (at Gabugabuna), NT, Aboriginal people shot. Reasons for killings not recorded.
1880s–90sFlorida Station, Arnhem Land, NT
1880s–90sHodgson Downs, NT
c. 1882Coast Track (now called Savannah Way) at Calvert River, NT, Aboriginal people killed after an attack on Dick Moore's camp.
1882Elsey Station, near Strangways River, NT, Aboriginal people killed in punitive expedition after Campbell murder.
1882Elsey Station, near Elsey Creek, NT, Aboriginal people killed in encounter with Frank Hann's party.
1882Jinparrak (Old Wave Hill Station), NT, Sam Croker shot an Aboriginal man in the back for trying to take a bucket and some billies.
16 Jun 1882Elsey Station, NT, murder of Duncan Campbell by Aboriginal people.
1883Coast Track (now called the Savannah Way) at Skeleton Creek, NT, Aboriginal people killed in punitive expedition after Charley Willis's horses speared.
1883Massacre Hill, NT
Sep 1883Frasers Creek, NT, murder of John Fraser and unnamed Aboriginal assistant
Coast Track (now called Savannah Way) at Frasers Creek, NT, Aboriginal people killed in punitive expedition after killing of Fraser and his assistant.
1883/84Warluck (Seale Gorge), NT, Gurindji people massacred by British pastoralists.
1883–1910Victoria River Downs, NT, massacres of Aboriginal people
1884Burrundie, NT, 200 kms south of Darwin, NT, Woolgonga tragedy
1884Daly River, NT
1884McKinlay River, NT
1884Skeleton Creek, NT
Aug 1884Angkwerl (Anna’s Reservoir), Aileron Station, NT
Sept 1884Daly River, NT, 'Coppermine massacre'
1885Alexandria Station, NT, Benigan and Donovan killed by Aboriginal people
1885Elsey Station, NT
5 Mar 1885Alexandria Station, NT, John Ross killed by Aboriginal people
Aug 1885Near Limmen Bight River, NT, James McCoy killed by Aboriginal people
1886Dunganminnie Spring, NT
1886Limmen Bight River Cave, NT
1886Malakoff Creek, McArthur River station, NT
Aug 1886Near Yulbarra, Vanderlin Island, NT, Alfred Toms killed by Aboriginal people
18 Oct 1886Broadmere outstation, NT, Edward Lenehan killed by Aboriginal people
c. 1886Vanderlin Island and vicinity, NT, Aboriginal men shot by men from the Smuggler
1887Corella Downs Station, NT, Frederick Jeffries killed by Aboriginal people
1887McArthur River, at Amelia Spring NT, Aboriginal people killed. No reason rcorded.
c. Mar 1887Valley of Springs Station, NT, man named Bird killed by Aboriginal people
April 1888Coast Track (now called the Savannah Way), 8 kms east of the Calvert River, NT, unnamed German man killed by Aboriginal people
12 May 1888McArthur River, NT, Francis Marrin killed by Aboriginal people
31 Dec 1888Corella Downs Station, NT
c. Jan 1889Brunette Downs Station, NT, fight between Robert Hamilton and an unnamed Aboriginal man
1889Jampawurru (Red Lily Spring or Mud Spring), NT (Gurindji Country)--Gordon Buchanan, Ferguson and Barry and an Aboriginal tracker named George, encounter seven or eight Aboriginal men. In the ensuing battle the Aboriginal men are killed.
1890sCoanjula Creek, near the upper Nicholson River, NT
1890sEast Baines River, NT
1890s?Ganjarinjarri, upper Robinson River, NT
23 Feb 1891Tempe Downs Station, Finke River, NT
1892Auvergne Station, NT, Croker murdered by Charlie Flanagan
1892Corella Downs Station (at Corella Creek), NT
30 Jan 1892Cresswell Downs Station, NT, murders of Clark and Deloitte at Bowgan Waterhole outstation.
1892Corella Downs Station (at Corella Creek), NT, Aboriginal people killed in punitive expedition, led by Constable Smith, after murders of Clark and Deloitte
1892Cresswell Downs Station (at Puzzle Creek south), NT, Aboriginal people killed in punitive expedition, led by Constable Smith, after murders of Clark and Deloitte.
Oct 1892Willeroo Station, NT
1892?Cresswell Downs Station (at Kiana Rockhole), NT, another possible punitive expedition, led by Constable Smith after murders of Clark and Deloitte
Sept 1893Rosewood, NT
June 1894Black Gin Creek, NT
8 Sept 1894Cliffdale Creek, NT, John Clarke killed by Aboriginal people
10 Dec 1894Bowgan Waterhole outstation, Cresswell Downs Station, NT, Thomas Perry killed by Aboriginal people
Bet. 1894 and 1904Bradshaw Station, NT
1896Ranges west of Lawn Hill, NT, Aboriginal people killed in punitive expedition after two colonists killed.
1896–97Cresswell Downs, NT
1896–97Irringa on Creswell Creek, NT
1896–97Minyarrga on Cresswell Creek, NT
1896–97Radjiji, upper Nicholson River, NT
1896–97Woodawalla on Cresswell Creek, NT
Jan 1897Jasper Gorge, Victoria River, NT
1897Wollogorang (at Baladuna Waterhole), NT
1899Wave Hill, NT
c. 1900Mouth of Calvert River, NT
1903Hodgson Downs (at Bailey Creek), NT
1905Victoria River, NT, Bradshaw massacre
1905Near Wadeye (Port Keats), NT, reprisal
Mar 1910Victoria River Downs, NT, WJJ (Brigalow Bill) Ward killed by Walkirr.
c. 1910 Gaargarn (Gan Gan) inland from Blue Mud Bay, Yolngu country, Arnhem Land, NT
Bet 1913–18Pewuly (Bow Hils Police Station), NT, massacre of Gurindji people
1915–16Elsey Station, NT
1918Auvergne Station, NT, murder of Alexander McDonald
Bef 1920Near Ngima (Neave River Junction), NT (Gurindji Country)
c. 1924Tartarr (Blackfellows Knob), NT (Gurindji Country), massacre of Gurindji people
14 Aug–18 Oct 1928Coniston Station and vicinity, NT -- the 'Coniston Massacre' was actually a series of conflicts between colonists and Aboriginal people that took place over a wide area of Central Australia on and around Coniston Station and nearby stations in 1928. Among the known locations of killings that occurred are: Jarrarlyku (Curlew Waterhole), Kunajarrayi (Dingo Waterhole), Tomahawk Waterhole, Janangpa (Boomerang Waterhole), Warlawurrukurlangu, Warranyirrtipa, Patilirri (Tipinba), Kurlurlu, Circle Well, Thimplengkwe (Baxter's Well), Yungarnti, Warlukurlangu, Liirlpari (Whitestone), Kakutu (Cockatoo Creek), Ngarningiri, Yurrkuru (Brooks Soak), Mawu, and west of Yuendemu. (Individual entries where dates are known appear below).
22 Aug 1928Kakutu (Cockatoo Creek), north-east of Yuendemu, NT (Coniston Massacre killing site)
23–30 Aug 1928West of Yuendemu, NT (Coniston Massacre killing site)
27 Aug 1928Janangpa (Boomerang Waterhole), Yarlalinji (Lander River), Broadmeadows Station, NT (Coniston Massacre killing site)
16 Sep 1928Napperby Station, NT
24 Sep 1928Tomahawk Waterhole, Yarlalinji (Lander River), NT (Coniston Massacre killing site)
24 Sep 1928Dingo Hole, Hanson River, Broadmeadows Station, NT
25 Sep 1928Circle Well, Hanson River, NT (Coniston Massacre killing site)
26 Sep 1928Tippinha or Tipinba (Patirlirr or Patilirri Creek), 24 kms west of Broadmeadows Station, NT (Coniston Massacre killing site)
26 Sep 1928 Dingo Hole, Hanson River, NT
26 Sep 1928 Wajinpulungk, NT
1928Cockatoo Spring, NT
1928Six Mile Soak, NT
Sep 1932Caledon Bay, Arnhem Land, NT
June 1933Woodah Island, NT
Nov 1933Blue Mud Bay area, Arnhem Land, NT
1934Darwin, NT: Dhakiyarr Wirrpanda from Arnhem Land possibly murdered after release from gaol.
7 April 1937McArthur River Gorge, NT
19 May 1937Anningie Station, 50 kms north of Ti-Tree, NT
Jan 1941Mount Cavenagh Station, south of Kulgera, NT, Lullilicki killed by station overseer, Herbert Kitto.
Dates UnknownBauhinia Downs, NT
Cooningheera Waterhole, NT
Cuppa Waterhole, NT
Dangeri Waterhole, NT
Donor's Hill Massacre, NT
Granada, NT
Hodgson Downs (at Angus Spring), NT
Hodgson Downs (at Buffalo Hole), NT
Hodgson Downs (at Indi Indi Spring), NT
Hodgson Downs (at Mason Gorge), NT
Hodgson Downs (at Sandy Lagoon), NT
Horse Springs, NT (Gurindji Country)*
Janpa, NT (Gurindji Country)*
Jikirrijja (Campbell Springs), NT (Gurindji Country)*
Jurlakkula (Nero Yard), NT (Gurindji Country)*, colonists killed Gurindji. They speared and killed a kartiya (white man).
Jutamiliny (Swan Yard), NT (Gurindji Country)*
Kalidawarra Waterhole, NT
Kumanturru (Coomanderoo), NT (Gurindji Country)*
Kurturtu, NT (Gurindji Country)*, Jack Beasley massacred Gurindji people performing a Juju ceremony. He had also stolen a Gurindji man's wife, afterwards shooting her when she ran away.
Malapa (Old Limbunya Homestead), NT (Gurindji Country)*, Harry Reid murdered Jangari because he beat him (Reid) up after Reid, Jack Cusack and Jack Carpenter had shot Jangala, burning his remains.
Massacre Inlet, Gulf Country, NT
Massacre Waterfall, Gulf Country, NT
Monkira, NT
Ngangi, NT (Gurindji Country)*
Ngurriya (Midnight), NT (Gurindji Country)*
Piyirriri (Farquharson Gap), NT (Gurindji Country)*
Seale Yard, NT (Gurindji Country)*
Thunderpurty Waterhole, NT
Waniyi (near Number 2 Bore), NT (Gurindji Country)*, kartiya ambushed and killed Aboriginal people in this area more than once.
Wirrilu (Blackfella Creek), NT (Gurindji Country)*
Wulupu (Hooker Creek), NT*, Gurindji survived shootings
Yurruj (Burtawurta), NT (Gurindji Country)*, Gurindji and Mudburra people shot in massacres. In one retaliation Gurindji men attacked a kartiya camp while the men were asleep, spearing a number, then burning their remains.

*From Gurindji historians as told in Erika Chakola and Felicity Meakins eds,Yijarni: True Stories from Gurindji Country, AIATSIS, 2016.
Exact dates not known but massacres and conflicts occurred in Gurindji Country in the Killing Times, from c. 1882/83, when British colonists invaded Gurindji lands for pastoral pursuits, until some time in the 1920s.

© Jane Morrison 2015, 2016, 2017. Complied from the sources mentioned above and from the Bibliography. No responsibility taken for errors in primary or secondary sources.