Australian Frontier Conflicts:
Bibliographic Sources Listed
by Australian States and Territories

Below are some of the main sources of information about Australian frontier conflicts and related subjects such as genocide and race relations, as they exist in 2020. This bibliography is updated from time to time. Check sources such the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies catalogues and the National Library of Australia’s Trove database at: https://www.trove.nla.gov.au for availability of these and other material on Australian frontier conflicts.

Readers should be aware that ‘the historical record’ is that of the invading colonists and is often blatantly racist. The terminology used and the descriptions of events and of people can be very upsetting. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander versions of events were not recorded in the early days of colonial Australia, when First Peoples were not permitted to give evidence in court. It is only since First Peoples’ oral history and the work of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander historians on colonial frontier conflict, depicted through art and other media as well as in articles, books, exhibitions, demonstrations and other formats such as online channels, has been published, that the voices of First Peoples about colonial history have begun to be heard.

You can read more about selected and new books on the Books page. You can also find more information on Australian frontier conflicts on the Journal Articles page and under Resources in the main menu. Scroll down to: Databases, Films, Podcasts, and Videos, Maps of some of the known frontier conflict sites across Australia can be found separately.

Australia (General)

Action for World Development 1999, Aboriginal Heroes of the Resistance: From Pemulwuy to Mabo, Action for World Development, Surry Hills, New South Wale

Articles on Frontier Wars [2014–2019], The Conversation: https://theconversation.com/au/topics/frontier-wars-10075

Australian War Memorial, Military History Section, Australians at War: Colonial Period, 1788–1901 [ND]: https://www.awm.gov.au/atwar/colonial/, accessed on 24 October 2016. ‘One role of the troops was to guard Australia against external attack, but their main job was to maintain civil order, particularly against convict uprisings, and to suppress the resistance of the Aboriginal population to British settlement.’ Be aware that this chapter of the Australian War Memorial’s online Australians at War series does not explain the frontier wars period in any detail, such as the deliberate colonial military actions against Aboriginal people in the colonies of New South Wales, Tasmania (Van Diemen’s Land), Victoria (when still part of New South Wales) and Western Australia. Nor does the Australian War Memorial’s chapter on the Colonial Period include any mention of the role of colonial police forces in frontier conflicts, or of how, when these forces were set up, they often recruited ex-military men to their ranks.

Banner, Stuart, Why Terra Nullius? Anthropology and Property Law in Early Australia,’ Law and History Review, Volume 23, Issue 1, Spring 2005, pp. 95–131

Barker, Bryce, Massacre, Frontier Conflict and Australian Archaeology,’ Australian Archaeology, Number 64, June 2007, pp. 9–14

Barritt-Eyles, Lisa, University of Newcastle, ‘Gargoyles and silence: “Our story” at the Australian War Memorial, 18 March 2015:
https://theconversation.com/gargoyles-and-silence-our-story-at-the-australian-war-memorial-38829

Baum, Tina 2017, Defying Empire: 3rd National Indigenous Art Triennial, National Gallery of Australia

Brodie, Nick 2016, 1787: The Lost Chapters of Australia’s Beginnings, Hardie Grant Books, Richmond, Victoria

Clark, Deborah and Susan Jenkins eds 2007, Culture Warriors: National Indigenous Art Triennial, National Gallery of Australia

Coates, Ian ed. 2020, Endeavour Voyage: the Untold Stories of Cook and the First Australians, National Museum of Australia, Canberra

Connor, John 2002, The Australian Frontier Wars 1788–1838, University of New South Wales Press

Daley, Paul, ‘Restless Indigenous Remains’, Meanjin, 8 September 2014:
https://meanjin.com.au/articles/post/restless-indigenous-remains/, accessed on 8 September 2014

Darmangeat, Christophe 2020, Justice and Warfare in Aboriginal Australia, Lexington Books, and imprint of The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc. Maryland, USA

Defending Country website: A group of First Nations and non-First Nations people with the primary objective of ensuring that the Australian War Memorial properly recognises and commemorates the Australian Frontier Wars: https://www.defendingcountry.au/about/who-we-are

Dowling, Peter 2021, Fatal Contact: How Epidemics Nearly Wiped Out Australia’s First Peoples, Monash University Publishing

Elder, Bruce 1998, Blood on the Wattle: Massacres and maltreatment of Aboriginal Australians since 1788, revised edition, reprinted 2000

Ganter, Regina 2009–2018, German Missionaries in Australia–A web-directory of intercultural encounters, Griffith University: http://missionaries.griffith.edu.au/

Gilbert, Kevin 1993, Aboriginal Sovereignty: Justice, the Law, and Land (includes draft treaty). Canberra: Burrambinga Books

Gilbert, Kevin 1994, Black From the Edge, South Melbourne: Hyland House Publishing

Grassby, Al and Marji Hill 1998, Six Australian Battlefields, Angus and Robertson

Grey, JA 1999, The Military and the Frontier, 1788–1901, in Jeffrey Grey, A Military History of Australia, Cambridge University Press, New York

Grieves, Victoria, ‘Jamaica Australia historical connections and the Black diaspora in the Australian Pacific Region, “Maroons, Indigenous People and Indigeneity Part 2”’, Charles Town Maroon Council, 7th Annual International Maroon Conference, Charles Town, Portland, Jamaica, 2015, pp. 12–13

Hodges, Flavia, ‘Language Planning and Placenaming in Australia’, Current Issues in Language Planning, Vol. 8, No. 3, 2007, pp. 383–403

Horton, David ed., The Encyclopaedia of Aboriginal Australia, Volume 1, A–L, Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies Aboriginal Studies Press, 1994

Horton, David ed., The Encyclopaedia of Aboriginal Australia, Volume 2, M–Z, Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies Aboriginal Studies Press, 1994

Kerkhove, Ray 2015, Aboriginal Smoke Signalling and Signalling Hills in Resistance Warfare,’ Honest History

Kerkhove, Ray 2023, How They Fought: Indigenous Tactics and Weaponry of Australia’s Frontier Wars, Boolarong Press
(Explains in detail the modes of warfare used by First Nations during Australia’s frontier conflicts).

Litster, Mirani, The Potential Contribution of Archaeology to Australian Frontier Studies, A Thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Bachelor of Archaeology (Honours), Department of Archaeology, School of Humanities, Flinders University, 16 June 2006.

Litster, Mirani and Lynley A Wallis, Looking for the proverbial needle?” The archaeology of Australian frontier massacres’, Archaeology in Oceania, Vol. 46, No. 3, (October 2011), pp. 105–117. Available from ANU Open Access, see https://digitalcollections.anu.edu.au/handle/1885/20865 for an abstract.

Macquarie University, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, Original Documents on Aborigines and Law, 1797–1840–website that includes transcriptions and digital images of handwritten and printed material by government officials, judges and missionaries.

Manera, Brad, Review of John Connor, The Australian frontier wars 1788–1838, University of New South Wales Press, Sydney, 2002, Journal of the Australian War Memorial [ND] at: https://www.awm.gov.au/journal/j38/connorreview.asp, accessed on 24 August 2016

McKenna, Mark, Moment of Truth: History and Australia’s Future,’ Quarterly Essay, Issue 69, 2018

McQueen, Humphrey, ‘The real battle for Australia: pioneering writing on the Frontier Wars (Parts I-III),’ Honest History, 2 September 2014: https://honesthistory.net.au/wp/mcqueen-humphrey-pioneering-writing-on-frontier-wars/

Monticone, Judith 1999, Healing the Land, Vol. 1, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory

National Indigenous Australians Agency, A Grave Responsibility to Honour Our Ancestors: A National Guide for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities to Identify and Protect Unmarked Graves and Cemetries, September 2021: https://www.cemeteries.nsw.gov.au/sites/default/files/2023-01/A-Grave-Responsibility-to-Honour-Our-Ancestors.pdf. Accessed 11 September 2023. Previously on author site.

Pascoe, Bruce 2007, Convincing Ground: Learning to fall in love with your country, Aboriginal Studies Press, reprinted 2012

Pascoe, Bruce 2014, Dark Emu–Black Seeds: agriculture or accident? Magabala Books, Broome, Western Australia

Perkins, Rachel and Marcia Langton eds., First Australians: An Illustrated History, The Miegunyah Press, 2008 (also a TV program on SBS/NITV)

Pybus, Cassandra 2006, Black Founders: The unknown story of Australia’s first black settlers, UNSW Press

Reynolds, Henry 1977 [?], Aboriginal-European Contact History: problems and issues,’ paper delivered at the 47th ANZAAS Congress, Hobart, 1976

Reynolds, Henry 1981, The Other Side of the Frontier: An interpretation of the Aboriginal response to the invasion and settlement of Australia, History Department, James Cook University, Townsville

Reynolds, Henry 1984, The breaking of the great Australian silence: Aborigines in Australian historiography 1955–1983,’ Trevor Reese Memorial Lecture, University of London, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, Australian Studies Centre, 30 January 1984

Reynolds, Henry 1987, Frontier: Aborigines, settlers and land, Allen & Unwin, St Leonards, Sydney, New South Wales

Reynolds, Henry comp. 1989, Dispossession: Black Australians and white invaders, Allen & Unwin, St Leonards, Sydney, New South Wales

Reynolds, Henry 1990, With the White People: The crucial role of Aborigines in the exploration and development of Australia, Penguin, Ringwood, Victoria

Reynolds, Henry 1992, The Law of the Land, 2nd Edition, Penguin Books, Ringwood, Victoria

Reynolds, Henry 1998, This Whispering in Our Hearts, Allen & Unwin, St Leonards, Sydney, New South Wales

Reynolds, Henry 1999, Why Weren’t We Told?: a personal search for the truth about our history, Viking, Penguin Books, Ringwood, Victoria

Reynolds, Henry 2000, Black Pioneers, (Revision of With the White People, 1990), Penguin, Ringwood, Victoria

Reynolds, Henry 2001, An Indelible Stain?: the question of genocide in Australia’s history, Viking, Penguin Books, Ringwood, Victoria

Reynolds, Henry 2013, Forgotten War, NewSouth Publishing, University of New South Wales

Reynolds, Henry 2018, This Whispering in Our Hearts Revisited, NewSouth Publishing, University of New South Wales

Reynolds, Henry, ‘Australia was founded on a hypocrisy that haunts us to this day,’ The Conversation, 27 August 2018: https://theconversation.com/henry-reynolds-australia-was-founded-on-a-hypocrisy-that-haunts-us-to-this-day-101679

Reynolds, Henry, ‘Frontier Conflict and the War Memorial,Meanjin, Autumn 2019: https://meanjin.com.au/essays/frontier-conflict-and-the-war-memorial/

Reynolds, Henry 2021, Truth-Telling: History, sovereignty and the Uluru Statement, New South Books

Reynolds, Henry 2022, Forgotten War: new edition, NewSouth Books, Sydney

Scarlett, Philippa. ‘Acknowledgement Sought: Kevin Gilbert, Aboriginal Australians and the War of Invasion.’ 24 April 2014. Accessed 5 November 2018. https://indigenoushistories.com/2014/04/23/acknowledgement-sought-kevin-gilbert-aboriginal-australians-and-the-war-of-invasion/

Sculthorpe, Gaye et al, 2015, Indigenous Australia enduring civilisation, British Museum, London, England (Catalogue for the BP Exhibition held at the British Museum, London, 23 April to 2 August 2015. This exhibition later came to the National Museum of Australia, Canberra)

Stanley, Peter, University of New South Wales, ‘On Anzac Day, we remember the Great War but forget our first war,’ The Conversation, 25 April 2014: https://theconversation.com/on-anzac-day-we-remember-the-great-war-but-forget-our-first-war-23246

Tatz, Colin, Genocide in Australia, Research Discussion Paper, No. 8, 1999, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, Canberra: https://aiatsis.gov.au/publication/35772

Tedeschi, Mark 2017, Speech on War Crimes and Genocide, Myall Creek Massacre Memorial Ceremony, Myall Creek Memorial Site, Sunday 11 June. For full text of speech contact Friends of Myall Creek: https://myallcreek.org/contact-us/

Veth, Peter, Peter Sutton and Margo Neale eds, 2008, Strangers on the Shore: Early coastal contacts in Australia, National Museum of Australia

Williams, Eleanor 1998. ‘Kevin Gilbert 1933–1992’. The Koori History Website: Martyrs in the Struggle for Justice. Accessed 27 October 2015.

Bibliography compiled by Jane Morrison 2012–2023. Updated 8-14 November 2021, 21 January 2022, 11 March, 1 May 2022, 6, 8 July 2022, 5 August 2022, 2 October 2022, 8, 16 November 2022, 4 January 2023, 19 April 2023, 31 May 2023, 6, 11 September 2023, 4 October 2023, 24 January 2024, 1 February 2024.

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