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The Cullin-La-Ringo massacre, which occurred in central Queensland on 17 October 1861 , was the largest massacre of white settlers by Aborigines in Australia[1].

Of a travelling party led by Horatio Wills, nineteen of the twenty-five members were murdered on the farming property of Cullin-La-Ringo. The six surviving members included James Baker, Wills' son Thomas Wills, and two others who were absent, as well as a John Moore who managed to avoid being seen, and who reported the massacre afterwards. Moore was the only white eyewitness to the event.

The party, an enormous settlement train including bullock wagons and more than 10,000 sheep, had set out from Brisbane eight months earlier to set up a farm at Cullin-La-Ringo, a property formed by amalgamating four blocks of land with a total area of 260 km². The size of the group had attracted much attention from other settlers, as well as the indigenous people.

According to Moore's account, Aborigines had been passing through the camp all day, building up numbers until there were at least 50. Then, without warning, they attacked, murdering all the men, women and children with nulla nullas. The victims defended themselves with pistols and tent poles.

In response, a large group of police, native police and civilians tracked down the suspected murderers, and murdered a further 60 to 70 Aboriginal people before running out of ammunition.


Further reading

  • Cullin La Ringo: The triumph and tragedy of Thomas Wills, Les Perrin. [1]

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