Civil disturbances in Western Australia

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Kalgoorlie after the 1934 race riots

This is a list of civil disturbances in Western Australia. Some of the disturbances in this list are considered to be race riots, prison riots, and religious conflicts - often Protestant versus Catholic groups.

The earliest civil disturbances were actions by the local indigenous population dealing with European settlers.

Demonstrations and Protests are linked to a range of issues over time.

In the convict era, there were collective actions by convicts. Organised labour had to deal with issues on the Goldfields in the 1890s and 1900s with demonstrations and protest actions, while in Perth these occurred in the 1960s and 1970s over war and race issues.

There are some incidents in the 19th century where the causes are less clear. A restricted press and limited means of some groups to gain avenues to express their grievances in a dominated society, means that some disturbances were suppressed literally and disguised in the public record.

In some cases some smaller disturbances (alcohol-related fights) in the Goldfields (Kalgoorlie, Boulder and Coolgardie for instance) would not be considered full scale riots, but nonetheless the charges found either in newspaper or police records would suggest a significance beyond a simple incidence of drunken behaviour.

Incidents within strikes or labour related issues tend to be under-reported also[citation needed].

Incidents[edit]

Many of these events/incidents are difficult to find from direct references, and require diligent examination of sources. Some are unlikely to show up in newspaper reports at all. In some cases incidents need checking and more accurate dating.


  • 1834 - Race riots against Lascars (Portuguese creole stokers) - Perth
  • 1840s (early) - Riot against American Whalers - Albany
  • 1850 - Assaults against Chinese - Fremantle
  • 1850–present - Drunken Street Brawl - Perth
  • 1852 - Convicts overpower Guards - York
  • 1853 - Convicts on 'Phoebe Dunbar' - aggravated disturbance while at anchor.
  • 1854 - Convicts revolt over food - Bunbury
  • 1854 - Irish riot over religious issue - Fremantle Prison
  • 1861 - Pensioner Guards vs Ticket of Leave Convicts - Perth
  • 1894 - Riot at Mallina over Goldfield Warden Decision - Goldfields
  • 1897 - Riot after Catholics attacked Protestants during 12th July parade - Coolgardie
  • 1898 - Riot in September on leases - Kalgoorlie
  • 1899 - Riot on Wharf during Lumper Strike - Fremantle
  • 1899 - Riot in September on leases over alluvial regulations made by '10 ft Ned' Wittenoom - Kalgoorlie
  • 1901 - Conflict between Catholics and Protestants - Kalgoorlie
  • 1901 - Anti-Protestant conflict on 12 July - Boulder 12th July parade
  • 1902 - Riots on 12 July - Boulder 12th July parade
  • 1905 - Race riots - between Chinese, Japanese, Malay - Broome
  • 1905-10? - Race riots Anti-Italian riots - Gwalia and Leonora
  • 1910 - Tramway Strike riots - Perth and East Perth
  • 1914 - Race riots - between Japanese, Malay - Broome
  • 1915 - Race riots - anti-German riot - Fremantle
  • 1917 - Anti-Conscription riot - Cue
  • 1917 - Race riots - anti-Greek - Perth (William Street)
  • 1919 Fremantle Wharf riot
  • 1919 - Race riots - anti-Slav riot - Fremantle
  • 1920 - Broome Race Riots of 1920 - Japanese vs Malay and returned servicemen - Broome
  • 1923 - Hotel Workers Strike incidents - Perth
  • 1924/6 - Seamen's Strike - Fremantle
  • 1929 - Mutiny at Fremantle Prison over shaving - Fremantle
  • 1932 - 'Treasury Building' incident - Perth
  • 1934 - Anti-Italian/Slav riot - Kalgoorlie *
  • 1940/45 - American/Australian Servicemen incidents - various locations *
  • 1946 - Pilbara Pastoral Strike meetings in Perth - broken up
  • 1947-55 - 'Cold War Violence' - incidents between CPA, and opponents and police - various locations
  • 1957 - Dock strike scuffles and incidents - Fremantle
  • 1967+ - Demonstration Anti Vietnam war events until 1970's - various locations
  • 1971 - Demonstration Anti Apartheid/Springbok Tour incidents- various locations
  • 1974+ - Demonstration "54b of Police Act" incidents - various locations
  • 1988 - Fremantle prison riot and Fire - Fremantle

See also[edit]

References[edit]