Myall Creek and Myall Creek Station is about 10 kilometres out of Bingara towards Inverell. The Myall Creek Massacre occurred on the 10th June 1838, when 28 Aboriginal men, women and children were slaughtered by a gang of 10 white people.
What makes it stand out in history is that it was the first time that white people were punished for murdering black people.
So much has been written about the Myall Creek Massacre that I really can’t add anything to what is readily available on the net. It’s interesting to read reports from both the Indigenous and European perspectives. This cartoon was featured on a site called Creative Spirits with the caption
Aboriginal killings ‘run in the family’. The cartoon reflects that many colonists saw shooting Aboriginal people as a sport . It also plays with the fact that many people see having some Aboriginal ancestry as ‘fashionable’. Graphic: Ian Sutherland
Gamilaraay Elder, Uncle Lyall Munro, 2013:
[The Myall Creek massacre Supreme court trials were] the first place white man’s justice done some good. Right across Australia, there were massacres. What makes Myall Creek real is that people were hanged, see. That was the difference.
The colonial community of New South Wales was more outraged by the execution of British citizens than they were by the massacre of the Wirrayaraay people.
And then …..
The executions of British subjects for the murder of the Wirrayaraay people hardened colonial attitudes towards the First Peoples of Australia and shaped later behaviours on the Frontier.
In Australian English, the word ‘dispersal’ became the commonplace euphemism used to refer to the killing and massacre of Aboriginal peoples, which went on to take more insidious and devious forms: disease, starvation and the poisoning of food rations are just some of the ways that the Indigenous population was further decimated.
Meanwhile, perpetrators took better steps to cover their tracks and avoid prosecution.
Every year on the Sunday of the June long weekend, hundreds of people, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, gather at the site to attend an annual memorial service. Descendants of the victims and survivors, such as Aunty Sue Blacklock, Aunty Elizabeth Connors and Uncle Lyall Munro, as well as descendants of the perpetrators of the massacre, such as Beulah Adams and Des Blake, come together to remember and reflect on past atrocities, as well as to express shared aims for the future.
Gamilaraay Elder Sue Blacklock, one of the founders of the memorial site and service, talked about what the annual service and the reconciliation process means to her in a 2013 SBS interview:
It has lifted a burden off my heart and off of my shoulders to know that we can come together in unity, come together and talk in reconciliation to one another and show that it can work, that we can live together and that we can forgive. And it really just makes me feel light. I have found I have no more heaviness on my soul.