Aborigines vs Settlers ‘Claims’ – Macintyre River Region

Macintyre River Region – New South Wales, Australia

The following article was published in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ on the 13th November 1848, describing the plight of the Aborigines attempting to maintain a lifestyle they had known for some 40,000 years vs the Settlers as they strived to establish their, land ‘claims’, their stations and their way of life – thereby totally eroding the traditions of the indigenous peoples:

“THE MACINTYRE RIVER. — Our own columns have afforded proof that during the last fifteen or eighteen months, the relations between the whites and the blacks on the Macintyre River have been of a most unsatisfactory character.  Within that time not less than seven whites have been murdered by the blacks.  First there were two men killed on the road ; then Mr.  Marks’s boy ; then two men of Mr. Perrier’s ; then Jemmy the Jockey, on Mr. Wightman’s station ; and just lately a bullock driver in the  employ of Messrs. Yeomans and Baldwin, while removing the stores and other property from the deserted station of Mr. Marks.  There is no such authentic record to be had of the blacks who have been killed by the whites during that period ; but we may rest assured  that at least life for life has been exacted, and something more.  And yet during this period the government has been little more than a passive spectator of these mutual murders.  Instead of taking immediate and vigorous measures to follow up and punish the perpetrators of the earlier outrages, without respect to colour, its interference has been delayed until a fearful mass of crime has accumulated ; and then the powers of the law are set in motion to punish the offenders of one party, while no effective effort is made to bring those of the other to justice.  The practical effect of this policy is now being exemplified ; the blacks are emboldened in their aggressions ; the stations on the Macintyre are being abandoned, the men declining to remain on them exposed to the attacks of the aborigines, without protection from the government, and yet afraid to fight in their own defence.  Has the government, in allowing things to get to this pass, done its duty either to the whites or to the blacks?  Has it no higher and better function in regard to the relations between these parties than the irregular and partial punishment of crime?  Is it not its bounden duty, when disturbances of this nature arise, to interfere immediately and effectively, instead of tacitly sanctioning mutual outrage ?  It is surely  better to prevent bloodshed than to punish murder.  The squatters on the Macintyre hold their stations under the sanction of the government.  They pay their license fees as a consideration for the use of the land they occupy ; they contribute their full quota to the general revenue of the colony, from which the ordinary police expenditure is defrayed ; and over and above this, they pay a special tax on stock, from which those who are not squatters are exempt, in order to provide a fund from which extra expenses incurred for their protection and benefit may be paid.  And yet during eighteen months of lawless aggression against life and property on the one side, and  against life and natural rights on the  other, the government has virtually done nothing to prevent outrage, and to afford the extra protection which, under the circumstances, was absolutely required.  If government cannot, or will not, afford protection, they are not justified in sanctioning occupation, or in levying license fees and assessment.  From the latest accounts which have come down, it appears probable, that if the government do not immediately organise some force for effectually protecting life and property on the Macintyre, many of the stations on that river will have to be abandoned.  The longer this efficient protection is withheld, the greater will be the waste of life and property, and the more difficult the ultimate task of restoring order in the district.—Maitland Mercury.”

View other important events in this Region’s History . . .

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