Hospital Creek Massacre

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Hospital Creek, New South Wales

The Hospital Creek Massacre refers to a retaliatory mass-slaughter of Indigenous Australians in 1859 in rural New South Wales.[1][2] There are differing accounts of this event, but one alleges that a white stockman at Walcha Hut (now called Brewarrina), abducted an Aboriginal woman. The stockman was warned by the woman's fellow tribe members to release her. When the stockman refused to release the woman, they were both killed. White settlers retaliated by shooting a large number of Aboriginal men, women and children. Another version claims that the Hospital Creek Massacre refers to the death of 300 Aboriginals in retaliation for having "annoyed" white settlers.[3][4]

Both of these versions are attempts at justification. In 1928, The Sydney Mail published an article titled Pioneers of the West: The Massacre at Hospital Creek, written by G. M. Smith. This article is cited in the references (2), however the true account contained in that article is not.

Smith claimed to have met a cattleman named Con Bride near Brewarrina in the 1880s. Con Bride was managing the Quantambone cattle station in 1859. He found that many of his cattle were being speared near the waterholes, and attempted to persuade the Aboriginals to move on. They refused, so he sent to an adjoining cattle station for assistance. They sent men and ammunition, and Con Bride led a force of 20 armed men to disperse the Aboriginals. He claims to have only shot a "dozen or so", however it is likely that it was many more, as many as 400. He was quoted as saying

"Some went so far as to say that I should have been put on trial for what I did, but the Government was well aware of the fact that the work we were doing outback could not be done with white-gloves on, and, therefore, were not too ready to take action in such cases, but depended on the humanity of the white settlers to spare the natives as much as possible."

He described how the Aboriginals were hiding in the trees at the waterholes and spearing the cattle when they came to drink.


  1. ^ Office of Environment and Heritage. "Brewarrina Aboriginal Fish Traps / Baiame's Ngunnhu". NSW Government. Retrieved 19 December 2015. In one recorded incident in 1859 a stockman at Walcha Hut on the Lawson run was warned by Aboriginals to release one of their women. He refused, and both he and the woman were killed. In retaliation, the settlers shot a large number of Culgoa Aboriginal men, women and children in what became known as the Hospital Creek Massacre (Rando, 2007, p38).{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  2. ^ "Pioneers of the West". Sydney Mail. Vol. XXXIII, no. 859. New South Wales, Australia. 12 September 1928. p. 53. Retrieved 16 November 2016 – via National Library of Australia.
  3. ^ "Last of the Culgoa Blacks". The Farmer and Settler. Vol. I, no. 50. New South Wales, Australia. 24 October 1911. p. 5. Retrieved 17 April 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  4. ^ "Hospital Creek Massacre Monuments Australia". Trove. The monument, consisting of a series of stones erected by local Aboriginal Land Council near the site of the Hospital Creek massacre in 1859, commemorates those who were killed. There are claims that as many as four hundred Aboriginals may have been killed. The cause of the massacre was that a European stockman went missing and it was feared he had been killed by Aboriginals. A strong search party from wide area was made up and came across the tribe moving up the Bohara and along a dry watercourse to Narran Lake. They rounded up the Aboriginal people, old and young, on the Quantambone Plain, and shot them. It is said that there were about 400 and that was how Hospital Creek got its name. The stockman was found alive a few weeks later.