Colonial Frontier Massacres, Australia, 1780 to 1930 [Map], University of Newcastle website: https://c21ch.newcastle.edu.au/colonialmassacres/

‘In this project, a colonial frontier massacre is defined as the deliberate and unlawful killing of six or more defenceless people in one operation.

Although there is no legal definition of massacre, international scholars of the subject appear to agree that the collective killing of between three and ten undefended people in one operation is a minimum number to constitute a massacre.1 Native American scholar Barbara A. Mann, considers that the killing of six undefended Indigenous people from a hearth group of twenty, is known as a ‘fractal massacre’.2 Having lost thirty percent of the hearth group in one blow, the survivors are unable to continue their lives as members of a cohesive unit. They are not only vulnerable to further attack, they are also left with a greatly diminished ability to gather food, or reproduce the next generation or fulfil ceremonial obligations to kin and country. In their diminished state they are also vulnerable to exotic disease.’

Footnotes to Colonial Frontier Massacres, Australia, 1780 to 1930 [Map], University of Newcastle

  1. Dwyer, P G, and Ryan, L (eds), 2012, Theatres of Violence Massacre, Mass Killing and Atrocity throughout History, Berghahn Books, New York, pp. xiii-xxv.
  2. Mann, B.A. 2013: ‘Fractal massacres in the Old Northwest: the example of the Miamis’, Journal of Genocide Research, Vol.15, No.2, June 2013, p.172.
  3. Richards, J. 2008 The Secret War, A True History of Queensland’s Native Police, UQP, Brisbane, pp.55-6.
  4. Owen, C 2016, Every Mother’s Son.

[Note: The Australian Frontier Conflicts (AFC) website has not used any material from the University of Newcastle’s massacre map project, although there may be some overlapping information on both websites. The AFC website is an ongoing project, that does include maps–updating also an ongoing project. One aim of the AFC website is to collect material about some known ‘conflicts’ between colonists and First Nations peoples, so it includes so far Australian incidents:

  • where less than six people were alleged to, or known to have been, involved
  • where only injuries occurred but no deaths
  • or where no injuries or deaths were reported. An example of this kind of conflict was the incident at Attack Creek (Goaranalki), 74 kms north of Tennant Creek, Northern Territory on 25 June 1860, in which Warramunga warriors allegedly attacked John McDouall Stuart and party, forcing them to leave. No known deaths or injuries related to this incident were reported.
  • from First Nations’ and non-First Nations’ oral history of conflicts and massacres and references to colonial frontier conflicts in Australian academic publications, art, books, exhibitions, film, music, podcasts and videos.

There is some imprecision about the definition of ‘massacre’ that relates to ‘the killing of multiple individuals’: see Wikipedia entry on ‘Massacre’ at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massacre, accessed on 4 May 2021. This article quotes definitions from a number of sources. Another is the Cambridge Dictionary that defines a ‘massacre’ as ‘an act of killing a lot of people’: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/massacre

A ‘conflict’ between two or more people, by contrast, can range from ‘a disagreement’ to a ‘fight, battle or war,’ see e.g. Collins Dictionary: https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/conflict; or ‘a prolonged armed struggle’ (Oxford Lexico): https://www.lexico.com/definition/conflict, both accessed on 4 May 2021. A ‘conflict’, may or may not, involve violence, injury or death.]


Clements Compendium: PDF Database of attacks on and by Aborigines in southeast Tasmania, May 2021
http://rdp.utas.edu.au/metadata/484c2b53-776b-41da-8bb7-49ded4e96ea2

Mapping Frontier Conflict in South-east Queensland between the 1820 and the 1850s, Ray Kerkhove, Harry Gentle Visiting Fellow, Griffith University, Queensland, 2016/2017
The  project aims to visually (digitally) present the resistance wars in south-eastern Queensland in an easily-digestible and informative manner, by combining maps, images and brief explanations. Dr Kerkhove seeks to better illustrate the typical lifestyle of settlers and Aborigines caught in the resistance wars. He also seeks to develop historical maps that better reflect what was happening from an ‘Aboriginal resistance’ perspective. View the project here:
https://harrygentle.griffith.edu.au/projects/mapping-frontier-conflict-in-south-east-queensland/

The Native Mounted Police–Frontier Conflict and the Old Native Mounted Police Showcase, 16 December 2019
This is a summary of the Frontier Conflict and the Native Mounted Police in Queensland public research database, available via https://frontierconflict.org/. This database contains archival, oral historical and archaeological (site and artefact level) data relating to the lives and activities of the Native Mounted Police in Qld from 1848 until 1904. Watch the video about the database: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5AIqN_-1Dpk&feature=youtu.be

The Queensland Native Mounted Police Research Database: Frontier Conflict and the Native Mounted Police in QueenslandHeather Burke and Lynley Wallis, 2019
This database grew out of The Archaeology of the Queensland Native Mounted Police that was a joint Australian Research Council Discovery Project conducted from 2016–2020. Project researchers were from Flinders University, the University of Southern Queensland, the University of Notre Dame Australia, the University of New England, and James Cook University, Queensland.
Access to the database (you need to register) and more about The Queensland Native Mounted Police Research Database is available at: https://database.frontierconflict.org

Page created 11 November 2021. (Material before this date was on the former Video, Films, Databases and Podcasts page). Updated 14 November 2021.