The Australian Frontier Conflicts website is a project long in the making which had its genesis when the author, Jane Morrison, became involved in the Aboriginal justice movement around 1971.
The information provided on this site is aimed at helping those interested in Australia’s frontier conflict history to find resources for further study and research. It is particularly aimed at senior high school and tertiary students and anyone interested in Australian history from 1770.
Although the Chinese may have visited the Great South Land as early as the 1400s and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples had contact with the Macassans for centuries, it was not until the 1600s that the first Europeans are known to have visited southern waters. One of the first recorded conflicts between Europeans and Aborigines was in 1606 when Dutchman, Willem Jansz and his crew on the Duyfken, clashed with Aboriginal people on Cape York Peninsula (in today’s Queensland). In 1623 another Dutchman, Jan Carstenz, and his men were also involved in armed encounters with Aboriginal people on Australia’s northern coast.
Abel Tasman, yet another Dutchman, visited Tasmania in 1642, naming the island Van Diemen’s Land. English Captain James Cook visited eastern Australian shores in 1770 and is recorded as having shot an Aboriginal man. In 1772, Frenchman, Marion Du Fresne, visited Van Diemen’s Land. While contact on landing was friendly, the Aboriginal people became alarmed when a second boat was launched towards the shore. The French reported that the Aborigines threw spears and stones at them, so they responded with musket fire, killing at least one Aboriginal man and injuring others.
Information on this website focuses on conflicts, beginning with the permanent arrival of the British in January 1788 to set up the colony of New South Wales, until the 1940s and beyond. It is no surprise to the author that conflicts between non-First Nations people and First Peoples have occurred after the 1940s. For example, Lorena Allam wrote in The Guardian, on 16 March 2022, about a 1981 poisoning of First Nations people at Alice Springs, Northern Territory. Two Aboriginal people died and 14 were admitted to hospital after unwittingly drinking from a poisoned bottle of sherry that was deliberately left near the town’s John Flynn Memorial.
Resources on this website include information in a Bibliography, timelines for some of the known conflicts between colonists and the First Peoples, conflicts as they occurred listed by today’s Australian States and Territories, a national map of some known conflict sites across today’s Australia. The site also includes maps of some Australian conflicts shown by State and the Northern Territory. There are also links to news, books, journal articles, information on warriors who defended Country, databases about conflict sites, films and television programs, memorials to some of the people who gave their lives in the conflicts on Australian soil, podcasts and videos. Information is added to the site as more research reveals the extent of the conflicts, killings, massacres, and wars that have taken place on Australia’s mainland, Tasmania, in the Torres Strait, and Australia’s other islands. Contributions about known frontier conflicts, killings, massacres, and wars that have happened in Australia and friendly, relevant, questions and comments relating to this research are always welcome. You can contact me through the email facility on the Contact page. There are also contact forms at the bottom of most pages.
Jane Morrison 2012–2022. Updated 26 January 2022, 19 April 2022, 8 November 2022, 1 June 2023.