History

The Academic Cover-Up of Massacre Map Defects

In late May the preliminary assessment of a potential breach of the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (the Code) at the University of Newcastle came to an end. In November last year, when my second article on the university’s Massacre Map was published, I lodged a complaint with them stating that “extensive academic plagiarism” had occurred in the Australian Research Council-funded project they administer. I provided copies of both Quadrant texts.

The response was rapid, and in compliance with their own Research Breach Investigation Procedure a Preliminary Assessment was set in motion. As it began, an online festschrift was held for Professor Lyndall Ryan, team leader for the project, and over the time it was conducted the project received further grant moneys from the university.

In the beginning the procedure rules stated that the Preliminary Assessment was to be completed in thirty working days. By late February I had heard nothing and when I inquired on the progress of my complaint I was told that the assessment was uncompleted and “expected to be finalised by April”. On April Fools’ Day the rules were changed and the assessment continued until late May. In the new rules, which I found online, the time frame was increased to forty working days, “unless there are circumstances that impede this timeframe”. They also introduced a “Relaxing Provision” which allowed the university to “relax any provision of this Procedure to provide for exceptional circumstances arising in any particular matter”. Was it exercised in dealing with my complaint? Who knows.

Seven months and a day after making my complaint, on June 2, 2021, I contacted the university to find out what was happening. They quickly replied. It seems a letter had been sent to me, on May 21, but was emailed to a wrong address. A copy of the stray letter, from Professor Jennifer Milam, the Nominated Designated Officer in the matter, was attached. Curtly written, she advised me that “an independent external expert was engaged to review the matter. Appropriate actions have now been taken in line with the University’s Responsible Conduct of Research Policy and a resolution of the process is being actioned.” I had no idea what this meant except that it would not progress to the next step of the procedure—the investigation of a potential breach by an academic panel.

I replied to her immediately requesting a copy of the Preliminary Assessment Report: no answer. On June 15 I wrote again asking for a copy of the report and to be told what actual decision she had made: no reply. On June 25 I wrote to a member of the professor’s office staff saying my emails were unanswered and attached a copy of the previous letter.

Three days later, June 28, Professor Milam replied and I was dismissed—Whitlam got a friendlier letter: “the correspondence [dated 21 May] that you received was written with consideration to the extent to which you may be affected by the outcome of the Preliminary Assessment. Accordingly, I have previously provided sufficient information relating to the outcome and will not provide further details nor a copy of the Preliminary Assessment Report. Additionally, privacy and confidentiality obligations prevent us from disclosing the document to you.”     

After that, I waited and watched hopefully for changes to the Massacre Map. In the confusion of coloured dots across the landscape it was difficult to see what if anything was happening. However, I was reassured when the public cover-up began and several of my favourite shoddy massacres suddenly vanished. Amongst the erasures was Loddon Junction, which had been plagiarised from Michael Cannon’s Who Killed the Koories? The historical records were subjected to intensive examination by Marie Fels and David Clark in their Quadrant essay “The Loddon Massacre That Never Happened”. On the Map it became one of the massacres that never was.

On September 11, a new “Update and Changes” text appeared. I had listed twenty-six plagiarised texts and found problems in at least six others—five of the latter were “removed” and twenty-three massacre texts, all from the plagiarised list, had been “updated”. The five deleted massacres were, I believe, serious breaches of the Code and their disappearance made some of the university’s problems disappear and protected reputations. No one accepted responsibility for the plagiarisms and other matters—the revisions were meant to disguise what had happened.

I copied each of the new texts and compared them to the old and what I found is incomprehensible—at least if you still believe in truth and academic competence in Australian history writing.

The Research Team members credited in the update document are Lyndall Ryan, William Pascoe, Jennifer Debenham, Stephanie Gilbert, Jonathan Richards, Robyn Smith, Chris Owen, Robert J. Anders, Mark Brown, Daniel Price, Jack Newley and Kaine Usher.

The cover-up changes to the Massacre Map are gloriously demented. Here I shall deal only with a selection of the updated texts. In some cases plagiarism has been replaced by plagiarism; supposed new sources have been added to massacre-narratives that are completely unconnected with the main topic; changes have been made in an attempt to turn plagiarisms into quotations; footnotes have been fabricated—this alone seems an inexplicable travesty of ordinary academic standards; transcriptions from sources are sometimes mangled, and the writing of historians, including this one, is misrepresented.

 

THESE are grave accusations for which I offer the following evidence. Typically, pointing out errors in the works of establishment historians is greeted with a cry of “history war warriors” and passed over or ignored. In what follows, which is only a partial consideration of the disaster, I was often in disbelief at what I was looking at. Last year I wrote of a sampling of material from the Massacre Map which is possibly the most serious case of academic plagiarism in the history of our universities. Now the situation is even graver. In repairing the damage, the academics involved offer texts that are still plagiarised and fresh new instances of fabricated footnotes. I emphasise that these are but a selective sampling of the cover-up texts and in dealing with them I have tried to be brief.

Barmah Lake. In the earlier version half the massacre narrative was plagiarised from Michael Cannon’s Who Killed the Koories? The new version does not mention Cannon and is largely based on citations from Edward M. Curr’s Recollections of Squatting in Victoria—supposedly. That the academics give the wrong year of publication for Curr’s book, 1889 instead of 1883, is a minor problem. That the references are fake is a major problem—almost unbelievable coming from a project directed by Lyndall Ryan who herself had some serious footnote problems to explain some years ago. The direct quotes from Curr in this massacre narrative are fabrications. Although they begin, “According to Curr” and “Curr continues”, neither of them are from his book. The voice is Michael Cannon, his words again plagiarised from Who Killed the Koories?

Furthermore, the Barmah Lake narrative is incomprehensible. The first section, plagiarised as noted above, suggests an event but does not show any real violence or reveal a single Aboriginal death. The second part of the new narrative uses material, produced as “evidence” to comment on the first section, which is discussing a completely different confrontation which happened much later in the same year. From this confusion the Massacre Map extracts a massacre death toll of twenty-six from the later irrelevant document.

Connell’s Ford. The narration says that “In 1956, ER Trangmar, in his book, The Aborigines of Far Western Victoria, constructed a detailed account of the incident …” What is referred to as a book is fifteen loose printed pages. The title subheading is “a short talk”—a public address given by a Western District businessman to the Coleraine Historical Society in 1960 (not 1956) and which he had privately printed. The “detailed account” which the academics say he compiled gives no sources and the Map historians have not checked for accuracy, even though he gives a list of books and articles he used in putting his talk together.

Mr Trangmar talked of Aboriginal telepathy, seems to support the idea that “our aborigines originally came from India”, and told the story, unfortunately mythical, of Essomerit—“the first recorded aborigine to visit any part of Europe”. Born in 1485, the globe-trotting Aborigine is supposed to have travelled to Europe on a French ship and lived in Lisieux where he died at the age of eighty-eight. For Ian Clark’s Scars in the Landscape and for the Massacre Map academics, Mr Trangmar is a reliable source whose words do not need checking.

Fighting Waterholes. Mr Trangmar appears again and his “short talk” is again quoted and credited but the prose, with several new additions by the Massacre historians, is not his and has been plagiarised from Ian Clark’s Scars in the Landscape, again.           

Victoria Range. This was previously called Wannon River and was a double plagiarism. The Massacre Map plagiarised Scars in the Landscape which was itself plagiarised from Michael Christie’s Aborigines in Colonial Victoria. The Map now credits Clark for the text which still holds plagiarisms from Christie. In his original text Michael Christie made a small numerical error from reading a colonial newspaper: “Eight sheep were found slaughtered but the rest were recovered.” Quite unimportant, but the error was plagiarised by Clark and the Massacre Map (now twice). Neither Clark nor the academics checked the newspaper story Christie quoted—even though the Map has a Trove link.

Tarrone Station, October 1842—previously Tarrone (2). In my earlier articles I noted that this was also a double plagiarism of Christie. The Massacre Map had plagiarised Clark’s Scars in the Landscape which had plagiarised Michael Christie’s Aborigines in Colonial Victoria. The cover-up rewrite now credit’s Clark’s text, even though it still includes a passage he plagiarised from Christie.

Mount Eccles and Mount Napier massacres. These are probably one event. The dating, the same for the two massacres, is likely wrong and the same evidence has been used to produce both stories.

Mount Eccles. The massacre narrative begins, “According to A. Broughton, the historian of the Mills family in the Western District”. This is followed by what appears to be a direct quote from the historical booklet Broughton published in 1980 with a source note giving the relevant page number. Unfortunately, as it was before updating, the academics are plagiarising Clark’s Scars in the Landscape which is plagiarising Broughton’s The Mills Brothers of Port Fairy. And again the history academics have intruded their own words into the text they are supposed to be transcribing: Aborigines has been changed to Aboriginal people, and the word Aboriginal has been inserted before guerrilla base.

Both Mount Eccles and Mount Napier narratives have been updated with new material. This is a bad thing, for almost invariably the new research is likely to be worse than when they simply plagiarised. The evidence used in both these massacres is the same entry, dated September 2, 1847, from the journal of George Augustus Robinson. Confusion possibly arose because they cited Robinson’s journal in the Mount Eccles account and did not notice that, when they used a text from Scars in the Landscape for Mount Napier, Clark was using the same document. Even if correctly used the material has nothing to do with the major event(s) it is supposedly being used to comment on.

In the absurd world of the Massacre Map, the Mount Eccles narrative puts together material from an unsourced claim made in 1980 plus Robinson’s journal entry in 1847 for something entirely different and reaches this conclusion: “The two different accounts of the same incident would suggest that the letter that reached [Crown Prosecutor] Croke [as recounted by Robinson] was a cover-up [!!] and that the later account by Broughton [in 1980] was more accurate.”

Mount Napier. For this massacre about which there really is much more to write, the academics have vandalised James Bonwick’s Western Victoria (1858). His book is used by them but the incident he is retelling happened, he says, at Mount Eeles (a variant spelling of Eccles). Incidentally, the unsourced Broughton story from 1980 they use for the Mount Eccles massacre is probably based on Bonwick.

There is more. When the academics appear to be directly quoting Bonwick and citing both his book and page numbers their quotation is fake and has been plagiarised from Jan Critchett’s A Distant Field of Murder. Probably the Bonwick source information has simply been lifted from her footnotes—though they mangle the page numbers. And they do not notice that the names of a settler and Aborigine involved, which they lifted from Critchett and attributed to Bonwick, are not in his book and probably came from Rolf Boldrewood’s Old Melbourne Memories.

Murderers Flat. The narrative of a massacre that never happened begins like this: “According to Ian Clark, ‘this massacre is significant in that knowledge of it has survived through Aboriginal oral history’.” Supposedly it is the oral history of a woman born in 1849 as remembered and retold by her granddaughter. Clark worked out the birth year by deducting the age when she died from the year of her death—deducting age ninety-one from year 1940. But this is an error because she died in 1946—deduct ninety-one and she may have been born in 1855. However, if you look at marriage certificates for herself and her brother, who also plays a part in the history, and do the same calculations of deducting the ages they gave from the year they were married, she was born in 1859 and her brother in 1860. This is important because the Massacre Map dates the event she supposedly witnessed as happening between “1 Jan 1850 and 12 Jan 1855”—some years before either of the siblings were born. The Map academics had not conducted the most simple of online checks into the information they took from Scars in the Landscape—which itself presents an utterly tangled narrative.

Convincing Ground. From having one of the shortest narratives on their map the cover-up version is now one of the longest—a confusion of error, prejudice and incompetence. The event is contested between Professor Ian Clark and myself. Surely, the incident, given the importance it holds in modern race politics, deserves a careful and impartial evaluation of the evidence and our opposing arguments. My case is stated in The Invention of Terra Nullius and in a fuller examination in “Convincing Ground: An Invented Massacre” at Quadrant Online.

The Massacre Map presentation is based on a complete acceptance of Clark’s story. In transcribing a story told by Portland pioneer Edward Henty, as recorded in George Robinson’s journal, the text has been edited and has copying errors. Henty told the tale of an attack by Aborigines on whalers for control of a beached whale somewhere near Portland. The reason he told the story to Robinson was to illustrate the “badness” of the Aborigines—not the massacring propensities of the whalers. The event is recounted in one short paragraph yet the academics have deleted the vital first sentence which introduces the attack by the Aborigines on unarmed whalers: “He [Henty] related one story of their badness.”

The transcription of the remainder of the paragraph is shoddy. The contested whale is multiplied into “whales”, and “the boats” have taken human shape and become “the blacks” who are then assailed by “the natives”: “And the blacks [actually boat or boats] went to get it off, when they were attack [sic] by the natives who drove them off.”               

In his first and last mention of this event, in 1841 and 1842, Robinson dated it as happening “I suppose two or three years [before]” or “a few years previous”—which means it happened years after the Convincing Ground was named. With Clark-inspired conviction the Massacre Map places their massacre “between 1 Mar 1833 and 31 Mar 1834”. Politicised academics don’t read history, they invent history—but I’ve written a book about that.

I appear in this incompetent account and am corrected for having erroneously told my readers in Invention “that the name ‘Convincing Ground’ was coined by Major Mitchell when he visited in 1836, that is, at least two years after the alleged massacre took place”. The evidence of my folly is to be found, they say, on pages 140 to 142 of my book, where I say no such thing. These people make things up. Obviously they did not read as far as my footnote on page 143: “Clark also discusses another possible reason for the [Convincing Ground] place name, that it was suggested by Major Mitchell, but this was an erroneous supposition made by a local historian in 1976.” And if they had turned more pages they would have found this on page 148: “Edward Henty first mentions it [Convincing Ground] in his journal in September 1835.” They even use Ian Clark to refute this claim I never made.

Nothing they say is serious, or accurate. Ian Clark is again turned to for a claim “that Robinson was an experienced massacre investigator and cited as an example, his extensive investigation of the Cape Grim massacre in Tasmania”. No, he doesn’t, that is not in the Clark essay they refer to—there is simply no mention of Robinson investigating Cape Grim. They also claim, again citing Clark, that “Robinson visited the [supposed massacre] site and over several months, sought corroborating evidence from Aboriginal people, and settlers”. No, he didn’t. The references to the whale fight are disappointingly few, and if he was concerned to discover the truth of what happened why didn’t he bring forward the matter to Charles La Trobe, Superintendent of the Port Phillip District, who was actually in Portland at the time?

Ian Clark’s Scars in the Landscape was published by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies in 1995; a PDF version is freely available online. It is replete with errors and plagiarisms. Twenty-six years later it is still used as a reputable source for historians. The influence it had on the Massacre Map has been devastating. They plagiarised it, they copied it, and worst of all they trusted it implicitly. It is still used in fifteen of the updated texts, with eight beginning, “As reported in Clark” or “According to Clark”. When the Massacre Map receives a proper investigation, the examination should also extend to this disastrous book. The problem is always, as it is with the Dark Emu hoax, how to correct errors and distortions when those who should be expected to police these things and defend truth in history positively support the distorters.

The Massacre Map project was misconceived, and shoddily and improperly constructed. It has consumed and wasted substantial grants. Clearly, settler and Aboriginal relations should be studied, but it can’t be done like this. The “collisions” which occurred cannot be understood from dots on an internet map supported by brief and inaccurate narratives often based on very doubtful secondary sources which have not been audited in any way. But who is going to examine the Map, site by site, and evaluate what has been done? Already the Map has deleted some massacres, but these have been online for years and have fed into school reports, student essays, and probably books and the media. They can’t be unwritten. A massacre may be rewritten or deleted but may still live on in dozens of unexpected places and in the minds of young Australians and strident activists who know that our history was nothing but the killing of Aborigines.

When Marie Fels and David Clark queried the Loddon Junction massacre their text was over 7000 words supported by fifty-eight footnotes. The Massacre Map had simply plagiarised Michael Cannon. Wayne Caldow’s Quadrant essay, “The Warrigal Creek Massacre: True Story or Apocryphal?”, is over 6000 words with sixty-one footnotes, while the two Warrigal Creek massacres on the Massacre Map have been written without citing a single primary source and relying heavily on a particularly unreliable local historian rightly criticised by Caldow.

Following the University’s Preliminary Assessment, Professor Jennifer Milam claimed that “a resolution of the process is being actioned”. The actions taken are as bad, or even worse, than what came before. What was wrong in the first place was concealed, allowing yet more breaches of the academic Code to be implemented over the last six months.

The original plagiarisms are still online in the Guardian Australia’s prize-winning Killing Times feature. When will editor-in-chief Lenore Taylor accept responsibility?

The Assessment Report should be made public. The work being criticised was carried out by salaried academics supported by Australian Research Council and Newcastle University grants—their research deserves open public scrutiny. Team members accepted major prizes for their Map and these should be withdrawn—unless it is recognised in competition rules that plagiarism is an acceptable literary genre when our history is written (copied and pasted?) by academic historians.

What happened during the Preliminary Assessment should not be a secret. Why did it take so long, and how is it possible that the responsible Assessment Officer did not recognise the presence of plagiarism even as the work I criticised was later either deleted or rewritten? The reasons given on the update document nowhere specify that the academic team is covering up plagiarisms.

The School of Humanities and Social Science at Newcastle University states that their “vision is for the University of Newcastle to establish a global reputation for its excellence in the humanities and social sciences”. Why did they not audit the work being done on the Massacre Map over the years it was being assembled? They also claim to have been recognised as being “above world standard for Historical Research studies”.

* * *

 

The Evidence

Illustrating the Massacre Map plagiarisms are six examples which show an original text and the way it has been used by the Colonial Frontier Massacres project at the University of Newcastle. The work on the Victorian Western District is heavily influenced by Ian Clark’s Scars in the Landscape and in some instances the plagiarisms go backwards from the Map to Clark’s book and then to the original document. The project was heavily funded by the Australian Research Council. If the research work on one part of Australia is this bad, what is the rest of the Map like?

The American Historical Association gives clear guidance on plagiarism on its website:

The most obvious form of inappropriate borrowing involves the verbatim pirating of paragraphs, pages, or entire papers or chapters without quotation or attribution. The large amount of copying involved in such cases makes the occurrence of plagiarism undeniable.     

Most plagiarism is more subtle. Writers plagiarize, for example, when they fail to use quotation marks around borrowed material and to cite the source, use an inadequate paraphrase that makes only superficial changes to a text, or neglect to cite the source of a paraphrase. The result is often a patchwork of original and plagiarized texts that echoes the original sources in recognizable ways.

In each example the first text is the source which has been plagiarized—sometimes twice. The texts which follow, from Ian Clark’s Scars in the Landscape (1995) and the Massacre Maps, are either complete accounts of a specific event or extracts from longer texts. In all cases it is noted whether it is a complete narrative or partial extract and in each example the title is the name of the “massacre” as it appears on the Massacre Map.

The Massacre Map “first text” is as it was, presumably since July 2017. The “corrected narrative” which comes after was rewritten this year after a Preliminary Assessment was held in response to a complaint of plagiarism—the Massacre Map research team calls the recent cover-up writing “Updates and Changes”.

The sources appearing below each text are the complete listing given at the end of each event. Listing a book in the sources but not clearly indicating in the narrative when another author is being used disguises the plagiarisms and sometimes misleads even future plagiarists when double plagiarisms occur. In the first example, Victoria Range, the Map researchers have attempted a simple cover-up by inserting inverted commas and crediting Scars in the Landscape without realising that it was already plagiarised. Their own source list completely leaves out any mention of the real author of the words they are using—Michael Christie.

Ian Clark’s Scars in the Landscape deserves detailed examination for plagiarism and errors—this should have happened twenty-six years ago.When I first read it I was touched by Clark’s phrase, “Poisoning was difficult to prove” (page 44) in his account of the Tarrone massacre. I found those simple words dramatic and memorable, suggesting much greater hidden violence against Aboriginals. Far too memorable—for when I read them again I realised they, and the next sentence in his book, were plagiarised from Michael Christie’s Aborigines in Colonial Victoria (page 46). Plagiarism is also a betrayal of the reader’s trust.

Though the university academics have again and again publicised their intensive use of archival sources, all of these examples show them plagiarising from secondary sources—even when these do not provide sources for their claims.

Notice that within the corrected narratives the academics have generously distributed inverted commas and included references—this is very useful, for when compared with their earlier text it helps to highlight the plagiarisms and confusions. In all cases the punctuation within the extracts is as in the originals.

The two new fabricated footnotes that have been introduced are … interesting.

Example One: Victoria Range (previously Wannon River)

Michael Christie made very slight changes to the newspaper article he was quoting: “eight of whom” in the original becomes “eight of them” and there is a colon, not a semi-colon, after “wounded”. Unimportant as they are, they also appear in the plagiarised text, confirming they have simply copied all the earlier writer’s work—possibly without even reading the newspaper article. Christie made a numerical error when he says, “Eight sheep were found slaughtered”. 180 sheep were taken away and possibly 100 were killed, for the newspaper reports, somewhat ambiguously, that “about eighty sheep out of the number that had escaped being slaughtered were driven back to their owner”. Christie’s error is repeated by Clark and repeated twice more by the Massacre Map researchers.

Michael Christie, Aborigines in Colonial Victoria 1835–86, page 75:

In August 1843, for instance, a large group of Aborigines attacked Purbrick’s Koroite station on the Wannon River and drove off 180 sheep. Dana, whose Native Police were stationed at nearby Mt Eccersley (Eccles), was notified and with seven native troopers, he followed the tribe into the Victoria ranges. In the conflict that ensued,

Captain Dana’s troop fired simultaneously upon the savages four or five times, seven or eight of them were shot dead on the spot, and many wounded; the remainder retreated to the scrub and it is supposed about twenty of their number have been shot in the affray. [Footnote inserted, see below]

Eight sheep were found slaughtered but the rest were recovered. According to the Port Phillip Gazette, the settlers were “in perfect ecstasies”, declaring that a “real service has been done for them”. [Footnote inserted, see below]

Sources: Port Phillip Gazette, 26 August 1843, also Native Police daybook with appropriate references.

Ian Clark, Scars in the Landscape, page 160—extract with plagiarisms:

In August 1843, a large group of Aborigines attacked WJ Purbrick’s Koroite station on Konongwootong Creek, adjoining Coleraine, and drove off 180 sheep. Captain HEP Dana, whose Native Police were stationed at nearby Mount Eckersley, was notified and with seven native troopers, he followed the Aborigines into the Victoria Range. In the conflict that ensued,

Captain Dana’s troop fired simultaneously upon the savages four or five times, seven or eight of them were shot dead on the spot, and many wounded; the remainder retreated to the scrub and it is supposed about twenty of their number have been shot in the affray. (Port Phillip Gazette, 26 August 1843)

Eight sheep were found slaughtered, but the rest were recovered. According to the Port Phillip Gazette, the settlers were “in perfect ecstasies”, declaring that a “real service has been done for them” (Port Phillip Gazette, 26 August 1843)

Full sources list: Port Phillip Gazette, 26 August 1843; Thomas papers, report, 1 September–1 December 1843, VPRS 4410; VPRS 90; Christie 1979

Massacre Map, original narrative—extract with plagiarisms:

In August 1843, a large group of Aboriginal warriors attacked WJ Purbrick’s Koroite station on Konongwootong Creek, adjoining Coleraine, and drove off 180 sheep. Captain H.E.P. Dana leader of a detachment of Native Police stationed at nearby Mt Eckersley was notified of the alleged attack. With seven native police troopers, Dana followed the Aborigines into the Victoria Range. According to the Port Phillip Gazette, in the conflict that ensued: Captain Dana’s troop fired simultaneously upon the savages four or five times, seven or eight of them were shot dead on the spot, and many wounded; the remainder retreated to the scrub and it is supposed about twenty of their number have been shot in the affray (Port Phillip Gazette, August 26, 1843). Eight sheep were found slaughtered but the rest were recovered. According to the same issue of the Port Phillip Gazette, the settlers were “in perfect ecstasies”, declaring that a “real service has been done for them”.

Full sources list: Port Phillip Gazette August 26, 1843, Thomas Papers, report 1 September–1 December 1843; Clark 1995: 160-1

Massacre Map, corrected narrative—full text with plagiarisms:

According to Clark (1995, p. 160): “In August 1843, a large group of Aboriginal warriors attacked WJ Purbrick’s Koroite station on Konongwootong Creek, adjoining present day Coleraine, and drove off 180 sheep”. Captain HEP Dana, commandant of a detachment of Native Police stationed at Mt Eckersley, “was notified of the alleged attack and with seven native police troopers, Dana followed the Aboriginal men into the Victoria Range” (Clark 1995, p. 161). According to the Port Phillip Gazette (1843 26 August, p. 2), in the conflict that ensued, “Captain Dana’s troop fired simultaneously upon the savages four or five times, seven or eight of them were shot dead on the spot, and many wounded; the remainder retreated to the scrub and it is supposed about twenty of their number have been shot in the affray”. Eight sheep were found slaughtered but the rest were recovered. According to the same article, “the settlers were ‘in perfect ecstasies’, declaring that a ‘real service has been done for them’” (Port Phillip Gazette 1843, 26 August, p. 2).

Full sources list: Clark 1995; Port Phillip Gazette 26 August, 1843

 

Example Two: Barmah Lake

Fabricated footnotes. Recollections of Squatting in Victoria by Edward M. Curr was published in 1883, not 1889, and the supposed direct quotes from this book are from page 139 of Michael Cannon’s Who Killed the Koories? They are his words, not Curr’s. And if the Map writers had read Curr they would have seen variances with Cannon’s narrative.

Michael Cannon, Who Killed the Koories? page 139:

Dana proposed a plan in which his four black troopers would stay behind to protect the “Moira” homestead, while he and three white NCOs would attempt to seize the tribe’s leaders. Curr went ahead on 1 February with a bullock dray and sheep to act as a decoy. He succeeded in enticing many of the blacks from their reed-bed shelter.

Sources: no sources

Massacre Map, original narrative—extract with plagiarisms:

Dana proposed a plan in which his four black troopers would stay behind to protect Moira homestead, while he and three white NCOs would attempt to seize the tribe’s leaders. E.M. Curr went ahead on February 1, with a bullock dray and sheep to act as a decoy. He succeeded in enticing many of the blacks from their reed-bed shelter.

Full sources list: Cannon 1990: 139-140; Clark 1998d: 2

Massacre Map, corrected narrative—extract with plagiarisms and false quotes:

According to Curr ([1889] 1965, p. 93), on 1 February, Dana proposed that “his four black troopers would … protect Moira homestead, while he and three white NCOs would attempt to seize the tribe’s leaders.” Curr continues: “Dana succeeded in enticing many of the blacks from their reed-bed shelter” (Curr [1889] 1965, p. 93).

Full sources list: Curr [1889] 1965; Clark 1998d

 

Example Three: Mount Napier

Fabricated footnote. Nowhere in James Bonwick’s book Western Victoria, Its Geography, Geology, and Social Condition (1858) does he name John Cox or Souwester. This information came from Jan Critchett’s A Distant Field of Murder (1990) and may have been drawn from Rolf Boldrewood’s Old Melbourne Memories. Also, the location Bonwick gives for his story is Mount Eeles (Eccles) not Mount Napier.

Jan Critchett, A Distant Field of Murder, page 125:

John Cox from near Mt Napier organized a hunting party which included Souwester, an Aborigine working for Cox at the time. James Bonwick, who visited the area about ten years later, claimed in the narrative of his tour of the District to have been told the details. The party, “though few in number, mustered in rifles and pistols about fifty shots”. The unsuspecting Aborigines were interrupted at their breakfast. “More than thirty are said to have been thus laid low.”

Sources: J. Bonwick, Western Victoria, pp. 170-1

 

Massacre Map, original narrative—extract with plagiarisms:

According to James Bonwick who visited the station about a decade later, John Cox organized a hunting party, including an Aboriginal man, Souwester, “though few in number, mustered in rifles and pistols about fifty shots”. The unsuspecting Aborigines were interrupted at their breakfast. “More than thirty are said to have been thus laid low.”

Full sources list: Bonwick 1970: 70-1; Critchett 1990: 125; Clark ID 1995: 82

Massacre Map, corrected narrative—extract with plagiarisms:

However, when historian James Bonwick visited the station about a decade later, he found that “John Cox [Cole] organized a hunting party, including an Aboriginal man, Souwester, [and] though few in number, mustered in rifles and pistols about fifty shots” (Bonwick, 1870b, pp. 70-1). According to historian Jan Critchett (1990, p. 125), “the unsuspecting Aborigines were interrupted at their breakfast and more than thirty are said to have been thus laid low”.

Full sources list: Bonwick 1870b; Critchett 1990; Clark 1995

 

Example Four: Mount Eccles

The unsourced story told by Alan Broughton in the original text may be based on James Bonwick’s Western Victoria—see above.

Alan Broughton, The Mills Brothers of Port Fairy, page 32:

Mount Eccles was a favourite guerilla base … Until 1847 the retreat was perfectly safe. In that year a group of settlers guided by a “half-civilized” black made their way carefully in and launched a surprise attack on the peaceful camp, killing more than thirty people and sparing not even babies.

Sources: no sources

Ian Clark, Scars in the Landscape, page 49—full text with plagiarisms:

In 1847, a group of settlers guided by a “half-civilised” Aborigine are purported to have launched a surprise attack on a camp of Aborigines at Mount Eccles, a favourite guerrilla base, killing more than 30 people and sparing not even babies.

Full sources list: Broughton 1980, 32

Massacre Map, original narrative—full text with plagiarisms:

According to A. Broughton, the historian of the Mills Family in the Western District, in 1847 a group of settlers guided by a “half-civilised” Aborigine are purported to have launched a surprise attack at Mount Eccles, a favourite Aboriginal “guerrilla base”, and killed more than 30 people and sparing not even babies.

Full sources list: Clark ID 1995: 82; Clark ID 2000: 172

Massacre Map, corrected narrative—extract with plagiarisms:

According to A Broughton, the historian of the Mills Family in the Western District, in 1847, “a group of settlers guided by a ‘half-civilised’ Aborigine are purported to have launched a surprise attack on a camp of Aboriginal people at Mount Eccles, a favourite Aboriginal ‘guerrilla base’, killing more than 30 people and sparing not even babies” (Broughton 1980, p. 32).

Sources: Broughton 1980; Clark 1995; Clark 2000

 

Example Five: Tarrone Station, October 1842

Michael Christie, Aborigines in Colonial Victoria, page 47:

The bodies were burnt, there were no white witnesses and although Watton established that Robinson received a large quantity of arsenic, just before the incident, there was not enough proof to convict Robinson or his associates.

Source: Parker to Robinson, 19 February 1849, Box 7, APR, PROVic

Ian Clark, Scars in the Landscape, page 44—extract with plagiarisms:

The bodies were burned, and Watton could not find any white witnesses. Despite the fact that Watton established that Robinson received a large quantity of arsenic just before the incident, there was not enough proof to convict Robinson or his associates.

Full sources list: Robinson journals, 1839–49; Dredge diary, 1839–43; Kilgour; Presland 1977b; Christie 1979; Broughton 1980; Clark 1988, 1990a

Massacre Map, original narrative—extract with plagiarisms:

According to Watton, the bodies were burned, and he could not find any white witnesses. Despite the fact that Watton established that Robinson had received a large quantity of arsenic just before the incident, there was not enough proof to convict Robinson or his associates.

Full sources list: Clark ID 1995:43-5

Massacre Map, corrected narrative—extract with plagiarisms:

“The bodies were burned, and Watton could not find any white witnesses. Despite the fact that Watton established that Robinson had received a large quantity of arsenic just before the incident, there was not enough proof to convict Robinson or his associates” (Clark 1995, p. 44).

Full sources list: Clark 1995

 

Example Six: Murdering Flat

In citing text from another author, Ian Clark made an error which was plagiarised into the Massacre Map. The words he attributes to Aldo Massola are from E.R. Trangmar’s The Aborigines of Far Western Victoria (1960). In naming Massola in the text and in their sources list the Newcastle researchers claim to have carried out research which they have clearly not done. This was noted in a previous Quadrant article and the Newcastle research team has evaded responsibility and criticism by killing a now inconvenient massacre.

E.R. Trangmar, The Aborigines of Far Western Victoria (1960), page 5:

The far end of Clover Flat, south of the river, was a favourite camping ground. While the blacks were holding a corroboree and feasting on some freshly killed stock they were fired upon by the settlers with bolts, nails, gravel and stones with telling effect. The place was afterwards known as Murdering Flat. As far as is known there was no grave, the bodies were put in the river.

Sources: no sources

Ian Clark, Scars in the Landscape, page 26—extract with error:

Massola (1969) has described this massacre in the following terms:

The far end of Clover Flat, south of the Wannon River, was a favourite camping ground. While the blacks were holding a corroboree and feasting on some freshly killed stock they were fired upon by the settlers, using an old cannon loaded with bolts, nails, gravel and stones with telling effect. The place was afterwards known as Murdering Flat. As far as is known there was no grave; the bodies were put in the river.

Full sources list: Trangmar 1956; Bassett 1962; McGaffin nd; Massola 1969

Massacre Map, original narrative (later deleted)—extract with plagiarism and claim of research not done:

However in 1969, Aldo Massola described the massacre in the following terms: The far end of Clover Flat, south of the Wannon River, was a favourite camping ground. While the blacks were holding a corroboree and feasting on some freshly killed stock they were fired upon by the settlers, using an old cannon loaded with bolts, nails, gravel and stones with telling effect. The place was afterwards known as Murdering Flat. As far as is known there was no grave; the bodies were put in the river.

Full sources list: Massola 1969; Cannon 1983: 627-637; Clark ID 1995: 26-8 

13 comments
  • NFriar

    With gratitude Michael.
    Your persistence paid off in the initial months.
    With greatest respect to your forensic approach to exposing these people for poor academic work which has caused distress to those of us who know this map is hideously crawling with poorly done work.
    The propaganda of our history being one of killing aborigines for sport – hideous.
    Thank you again.
    Narelle

  • mgldunn

    Thanks for the very interesting article. The University’s correspondence with you seems to verge on rudeness and certainly ingratitude for your work in pointing out important problems. However suppose, for the sake of argument, the preliminary assessment agreed with at least some of your complaints. The report, if publicly disclosed, might then damage somebody’s reputation or career prospects. Deserved or not, issues of procedural fairness, perhaps even of defamation, could arise. Perhaps this may partly explain non-disclosure.

  • wdr

    Many of us are thankful for your important exposure of these fabrications, alongside your previous exposure of Bruce Pascoe. You should be supported in every way. It is a pity that Scott Morrison doesn’t have the sense of John Howard on this outrage.

  • Rebekah Meredith

    Does he have the sense or character of John Howard in any area (except, perhaps, boat people)? I certainly don’t agree with everything Howard stood for (gun control, middle-class welfare), but my impression (I was a teenager when K. Rudd got in) is that he at least KNEW what he believed. I don’t think that he was guilty of being what one commenter aptly called, Mr. Morrison, Prime Minister Weathervane.

  • Adam J

    Howard identified an issue, considered his personal beliefs and the political situation, and then acted as he could to neutralise the issue. In other words he was an effective politician regardless of one’s personal appraisal. The others have all been imitators, and Morrison is just another one.

    And we won’t get any help from the pseudo-aristocracy in the universities that prefer darkness so they can hide their lies. One commenter suggested that issues of defamation could arise: I’m not certain that is a good excuse. Why should academics be allowed to violate every intellectual standard and then hide behind defamation laws?

  • rosross

    Well done Michael. Excellent forensic work.

  • Tony Thomas

    Bruce Pascoe has written a book “Convincing Ground – learning to love your country” blurbed as follows:
    https://www.booktopia.com.au/convincing-ground-bruce-pascoe/book/9780855755492.html
    Convincing Ground is a wide ranging, personal and powerful work which resonates with historical and contemporary Australian debates about identity, dispossession, memory and community. For Pascoe, the Australian character was not forged at Gallipoli, Eureka and the back of Bourke, but in the more satanic furnace of Murdering Flat, Convincing Ground and Werribee. He knows we can’t reverse the past, but we can bring our soul in from the fog of delusion. He proposes a way forward, beyond shady intellectual argument and immature nationalism: strengths intact; weaknesses acknowledged and addressed.

    About the Author

    Bruce Pascoe is a widely published and award-winning writer, editor, and anthologist. He produced a dictionary of the Wathaurong language.

    I find it interesting that Booktopia doesn’t assert that Pascoe is himself an Aboriginal.

  • Blair

    “…He (Bruce Pascoe) proposes a way forward, beyond shady intellectual argument ”
    Huh?

  • restt

    Wouldn’t it be possible to obtain the information from the Uni under a freedom of information request. I know it costs money but the actual resolution document is all you are after – something like $40 for the application and then the cost of photocopying and sending the document.

  • STD

    Mass ‘o’ suckers- and the only massacre that is taking place is that relative to the truth.

  • Claude James

    The numbers of Aborigines killed by whites were and are a very tiny blip on a chart showing the numbers of Aborigines killed by Aborigines.

  • abrogard

    Thank you for this. Beautiful.
    What are Pascoe et al trying to do? Just help themselves is all. Ride a gravy train. ‘Me good, you bad.’
    Relies on the humanity and original sin within our race/society for success.
    i.e. relies on our goodness to accept the spurious contention that we’re bad.
    And then our stupidity to ‘bend the knee’ and give ‘reparations’ to those who’ve no entitlement whatever.
    And our system’s inbuilt unfairness to take the cost of those reparations and public humiliations from the public purse unasked and from the public demeanour, also without asking.
    i.e. all from our humanity and niceness, our meekness and humility and dependent upon the presence amongst us of the unscrupulous and self serving.
    It’s been going on long before Covid. But it is a direct parallel.

  • wstarck

    If nothing else, the University of Newcastle has succeeded in unequivocally confirming your concerns regarding unfounded claims and plagiarism in what purports to be a scholarly publication. Unfortunately, this kind of arrogant, evasive, and dishonest dismissal is becoming the boilerplate academic response to any questioning of the new politically correct woke academic research no matter how well-founded any such questioning may be.

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