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The Myall Creek massacre: the trial and aftermath

On the other side of the story, Sue Blacklock, a descendant of one of the two young boys who escaped from the stockmen, has said:

There were two brothers that were saved from the massacre. One of those little boys was my 3 x great grandfather. My dad always told me about that. It was passed down from his great grandparents right down to him, and he wanted to hand it down to his family.

But I remember Dad when he’d speak about it. His voice cracked just like the memory just sort of hurt. I hear him now telling his grandchildren all about what happened out there, and how it was burnt… and were killed and then burned. We just kept it all hush-hush. We didn’t want to talk about it because of how dreadful it was.

And I remember when we used to drive past that place. It… just had a feeling about it that I can’t explain.

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It should be noted that the Myall Creek massacre was one of a very large number of mass murders of Indigenous people committed in the early decades of the colony. The only reason there is so much known about this massacre is because it was one of the few cases in which any of the perpetrators were brought to justice. Numerous other mass murders were committed with complete impunity and even sanctioned by the authorities.

Following the two trials, and despite the admonitions of Justice Burton, the murders of Indigenous
people continued unabated, and extended well into the 20th century. However, the method of elimination changed and greater care was taken by the perpetrators to prevent atrocities coming to the attention of the authorities. The two trials in 1838 pushed the murder of Aborigines underground, so that instead of roaming gangs committing acts of violence, malevolent landowners and their agents would leave poisoned food and contaminate waterholes.

Ngiyani winagay ganunga — We remember them.

Ink drawing by  19th-century Aboriginal artist, Tommy McCrae.  Courtesy State Library of Victoria, ID H141226/1.
Ink drawing by 19th-century Aboriginal artist, Tommy McCrae. Courtesy State Library of Victoria, ID H141226/1.

For the full account, see issue 23 of Inside History, and issue 22 for part one. Mark Tedeschi acknowledges the late Christine Jones, former police officer, who brought John Henry Fleming to his attention. He also acknowledges the assistance of Marie Turnbull, a descendant of John Henry Fleming’s brother Joseph.

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