‘Enormous resource’? Only When Lies Are Revered

In an Australian first for any government since 1788, the Queensland Government intends to legislate a lie.  

As part of its plan to make treaties with the state’s First Nations residents, the government has accepted in principle the recommendation by both its treaty advisory committees that it should enact legislation that acknowledges “First Nations cultures and knowledge is an enormous resource for Queensland”. The government does not think any qualification is necessary: First Nations culture has enduring value in its entirety.

The Macquarie Dictionary defines “culture” as “the sum total of ways of living by a group of human beings, which is transmitted from one generation to another”. The Uluru Statement from the Heart says at over 60,000 years it is the world’s oldest continuous culture. The Left, as well as most of the Australian mainstream, are ignorant of or refuse to acknowledge the harmful features of this culture. Many think of pre-contact Aboriginal society as a virtual Eden where all lived in peaceful harmony, an Eden destroyed by white colonisation. The truth, which is radically different from the treaty-mandated exercise in propaganda called “truth telling”, is otherwise.

Sorcery:  Belief in sorcery as the explanation for deaths due to injury and disease is a feature of the culture that remains widespread in Aboriginal communities. Gary Johns says in his book, The Burden of Culture (which can be purchased here) “Clearly, sorcery is alive and well”.[1]  Professor Peter Sutton deals with this in Chapters 4 and 5 of The Politics of Suffering. He said:

The ancient institution of sorcery continues to maintain a function for many groups…There are still many Aboriginal communities in which virtually all deaths, other than those of infants, and in some cases, the elderly, are either attributed to sorcery committed by members of near or distant groups, or result from personal violence. Sometimes it is both. Many homicides or accidental killings are attributed to a sorcerer using the assailant as an instrument, or using the unwitting driver in the case of a car crash. The one whose act overtly caused death may thus be regarded as personally blameless. [p 89]

It is a feature of the culture that causes much harm. Belief in sorcery impedes delivery of modern and effective medical treatments in Aboriginal communities. See Sutton, Chapter 5 and Johns, Chapter 10. Sutton says that “well-meaning whitefellas who support traditional doctors in their quest to peel back the post-colonial power differential have to face the fact that traditional healers are likely to constitute a danger to the already disastrous health of their communities.’[2]

But this current element of traditional culture is going to be, by Queensland parliamentary decree, part of an “enormous resource for Queensland”.

Violent misogyny: In many indigenous communities in Australia there is a high incidence of violence to women. A 2015 Queensland Government task force report said that

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Queensland experience disproportionately high levels of violence, including domestic and family violence with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women being 35 times more likely than members of general population to be hospitalised for spouse/domestic partner assaults … Plainly, the most common pattern of domestic and family violence is that it is committed by men against women. [3]

That is an astonishing statistic.

In the Northern Territory the situation is worse. The rate of hospitalisation is up to 86 times higher for Aboriginal women. In Central Australia, this figure is 95 times more likely for Aboriginal women. The deaths of Aboriginal women from such ­violence comprise the most frequent form of homicide in Australia today. The media has shown little interest in that, preferring to concentrate on the rare police shootings of Aboriginal men. An Aboriginal man’s life is still valued much more highly than a woman’s. As Justice Judith Kelly of the Northern Territory Supreme Court said in a speech in August 2022:

Between 2000 and 2022, two Aboriginal men were shot by police both times followed by massive press coverage, calls for enquiries etc. In that same period, 65 Aboriginal women were killed by their partners … and in each case you would have been flat out seeing a small report on page 5 or 7 of a local newspaper – nothing nationally.

The Queensland Task Force touched on cultural factors for the violence suffered by indigenous women but identified intergenerational trauma as the major cause of this misogynistic violence:

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders have a unique history, very different from that of other sections of the Queensland population and characterised by successive generations of colonisation, dispossession, violence, and discrimination. A legacy of trauma arising from this history pervades the lives of individuals, families and communities and is seen as a causal factor for violence in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and a causal factor for a range of other social, economic, psychological and emotional issues that themselves are situational factors contributing to violence. [p120]

The Queensland government accepts that intergenerational trauma resulting from colonial dispossession of their ancestors is the major explanation for indigenous men bashing and killing their women in such large numbers. The men can’t help themselves. They are innocent victims of white colonialism. It has accepted its treaty committees’ recommendation:

That the Queensland Government resource a comprehensive process of Truth Telling to chronical the history of First Nations Peoples prior to British colonisation of Queensland, …

That healing and reconciliation be supported through the Truth Telling process with relevant service providers engaged to provide support to First Nations People to recover from their lived experience and impacts of intergenerational trauma. 

But neither the task force nor the government or its treaty committees have considered whether male violence to women is entrenched in Aboriginal cultures. There is much evidence that it is. Given the longevity of cultural behaviours, that may  better explain the persistence of such violence and the difficulty in eradicating it than the newly discovered intergenerational trauma that sounds like a medical diagnosis to which no blame can attach to the sufferers.[4]

Though unfashionable to admit it, violent misogyny has long been an element of Aboriginal culture.

Paleopathologist Stephen Webb in 1995 published his analysis of 4500 individuals’ bones from mainland Australia going back 50,000 years. Across the continent as a general rule, depressed skull fractures were substantially more common in female remains. A depressed skull fracture is a type of fracture usually resulting from blunt force trauma.

The evidence of violence to Aboriginal women described by Webb cannot be blamed on intergenerational trauma due to white colonisation. Dr Webb could not of course identify the sex of the attackers. But the inference that they were very likely males is suggested by the observations of First Fleet officers. They were shocked at the routine violence they witnessed by Aboriginal males to their females. This violence commonly took the form of blows to the head of the victim.

The Marine officer Watkin Tench wrote in his journal of his three years at Sydney Cove from 1788 to 1792:

the women are in all respects treated with savage barbarity; condemned not only to carry the children, but all other burthens, they meet in return for submission only with blows, kicks, and every other mark of brutality. When an Indian is provoked by a woman, he either spears her, or knocks her down on the spot: on this occasion he always strikes on the head, using indiscriminately a hatchet, a club, or any other weapon, which may chance to be in his hand.

First Fleet officers John Hunter and David Collins recorded similar observations. Those male attackers were not in the grip of intergenerational trauma caused by white colonisation that they were powerless to resist.

A century later, not much had changed. The social anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowsky said in The Family Among the Australian Aborigines, (1913) which is based on his examination of the extensive existing records, including many from the second half of the 19th century: “It seems beyond doubt that in the aboriginal society the husband exercised almost complete authority over his wife; she was entirely in his hands and he might ill-treat her, provided he did not kill her” – otherwise a blood feud with her relatives might follow.

As the Queensland task force said, a century later again in 2015, not much had changed: “Plainly, the most common pattern of domestic and family violence [among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people] is that it is committed by men against women”. The current levels of violence by men to women in indigenous communities is more likely to reflect the entrenched misogyny in indigenous culture than to reflect that the men can’t help bashing their women because it is all the result of white colonisation. Sutton comments:

Diffficult subjects such as Aboriginal `family violence’ cannot be approached ahistorically. One still hears the modern myth that the violent conflicts of today’s Indigenous communities have no continuity with the ancient or `traditional’ past in this country. … early contact reports by colonial observers, including some sympathetic ones like Edward John Eyre, and the more recent ethnographies of trained anthropologists, make it clear that earlier versions of what is now called `family violence’ or `community violence’ were also widespread and frequent in Australia under `traditional’ conditions …Today, this kind of assault is found at its worst in communities that have remained closest to their cultural traditions, and where alcohol is available in quantity.


Misogyny – other forms: There is other evidence of the misogyny in traditional First Nations cultures. In The Fatal Shore, Robert Hughes, summed up the position of women in First Nations culture:

It [marriage] did not change a woman’s status much. Both before and after, she was merely a root-grubbing, shell-gathering chattel, whose social assets were wiry arms, prehensile toes and a vagina. [p 16]

This is not an exaggeration. Historian Henry Reynolds in The Other Side of the Frontier [1990 edition] at p146 mentions male Aborigines’ attitudes to their women. Referring to the last decades of the nineteenth century, Reynolds spoke of indigenous men changing traditional patterns of migration round their country in the far north of the continent to travel down to the sea coasts when the pearling luggers were laid up for the monsoon season because they preferred to live “in ease and idleness” from the earnings of their women whom they prostituted to the pearling fleets rather than seeking the more uncertain returns from vestigial hunting and gathering. “The demand for the young women was such that all other clan members could live off the proceeds of their copulation for the duration of the [monsoon] lay-up season.” [p177]

This was not a recent or localised abuse by aboriginal men of their women: Reynolds also refers [p179] to reports in the first three decades of that century by sea captains, officials and settlers of similar behaviour by aboriginal men in the Bass Strait region.

Anthropologist Bill Stanner reported similar behaviour around the Daly River in the early 1930s of Aboriginal men pushing their women into sexual relationships with European and Chinese farmers in return for payments of tobacco, sugar and tea.[5]  It appears that a feature common to various Aboriginal cultures from first contact was the use by the men of their women as a means of obtaining from Europeans the goods they wanted. The women were also used by the men in traditional culture as negotiating pawns. Mark Powell in Reconciliation Starts with Telling the Truth” (Quadrant 27 May 2021) quotes from The Australian Aborigines: How to Understand Them, by AP Elkins, Professor of Anthropology, University of Sydney 1934-1956:

When an attacking party is about to attack the home party, the latter, if it does not want to fight, will send a number of its women over to the former. If these are willing to settle the matter in dispute without fighting, they have sexual intercourse with the women; if not, they send them back untouched.

If this is how Aboriginal men, widely separated in place and time, treated their women, how can traditional Aboriginal cultures properly be recognised in legislation as an “enormous resource for Queensland”? Will the  Minister for Women and for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence have anything to say about any of this when her government’s treaty legislation is before the parliament?


Child marriage: Promised marriage of a female baby to an adult male is still an element of traditional culture in some Aboriginal communities. It often involves sexual abuse of young girls. The Northern Territory has a large indigenous population with many living in an approximation to traditional ways. There, the conflict between Australian law, which aims at protecting children, and traditional law and culture which permits an often elderly male to have sexual relations with a promised child has provoked much controversy.

One of a number of such cases is The Queen v GJ [2005] NTCCA 20.  According to the judgment of the Court of Appeal, the defendant was a 55-year-old male with a wife and children living a traditional lifestyle. He was a respected leader in his community and was responsible for teaching young men traditional ways. He had forcible vaginal and anal intercourse with a child, who was then 14, with the complicity of his adult wife and the child’s own grandmother. He claimed she had been promised to him as a wife when she was four. He was charged only with unlawful sexual intercourse with a child. The maximum penalty was increased in 2004 from 7 to 16 years’ imprisonment following controversy in several similar cases about lenient sentences given to Aboriginal men who said they were acting in accordance with traditional law and culture. In the words of the child: “I told that old man I’m too young for sex, but he didn’t listen.”

The sentencing judge was “satisfied that the respondent was asserting his rights as he believed them to be and that he was doing so forcefully in order to give the child a message that she had to do what the respondent told her to do”. The judge sentenced him to 19 months’ imprisonment, suspended after one month. The Court of Appeal increased the sentence to three years and six months, suspended after 18 months. Even this sentence would likely have produced public and media outrage if the offender had not been an Aboriginal elder asserting his cultural rights over a female child.

Is the still-enduring practice of child marriage in First Nations culture “an enormous resource”? Will the minister responsible for child protection have anything to say about this when the government’s treaty legislation is before the parliament?


Violence: Professor Mick Dodson told the National Press Club: “ Importantly, I want to make the point that violence is not and never was part of Aboriginal tradition. … Most of the violence, if not all, that Aboriginal communities are experiencing today are not part of Aboriginal tradition or culture.”[6]

The hold this myth of a uniquely non-violent culture polluted by the arrival of white settlers has on many Australians was recently shown by the call by the federal politician Zali Steggall, for local councils across Australia to include a one minute’s silence during their official Australia Day celebrations in recognition of the Indigenous Australians’ lives lost since 26 January1788. While it marks the commencement of European colonisation of this land, she said, “it also represents the commencement of violence.” [7]

The anthropologists David McKnight, who worked on Mornington Island in the 1960s, said of the avoidance of the topic of indigenous violence by some anthropologists and others: “It seems to be quite acceptable to write about violence, providing that one takes the line that the people are basically peace loving and shy but they have become violent because of exploitation by Europeans.” That was the approach of the Queensland task force in 2015.

A more realistic view of the place of violence in Queensland’s Aboriginal cultures than Professor Dodson’s was common in earlier times. In 1895 the Queensland Government appointed Archibald Meston, who was previously Protector of Aborigines, as a special commissioner to report on their conditions in Queensland. Meston started from Thursday Island and moved southward. He said:

The white man came and shot game and trespassed anywhere without permission. When a white man took up land or a station, he expected the blacks of that locality to move back into other territory, unconscious that this would be an unpardonable violation of tribal laws, and involve immediate deadly warfare with the adjoining tribes. …[8]

There is much evidence, widely ignored, of the violence that pervaded Aboriginal culture pre-1788. Some is referred to by Quadrant‘s  Tony Thomas in “The long history of Aboriginal violence”.

Is the brutal and continuing violence in the traditional culture of First Nations really a part of the ‘enormous resource for Queensland”?


Demand sharing: This is a practice that developed among nomadic hunters and gatherers that ensured all members of a kin group got a share of scarce food resources. It is a cultural practice still operative in Aboriginal communities.

Demand sharing was considered by the High Court in ASIC v Kobelt in 2019. Kobelt ran a general store in the far north of South Australia. Almost all of his customers were indigenous persons residing in two remote communities. Most were illiterate, all were dependent on welfare payments. Kobelt got payment for the goods he sold them from their cards that allowed him to access customers’ Centrelink bank receipts. ASIC sued Kobelt for unconscionable conduct in trade. ASIC’s claim failed. Central to the decision was the conclusion that Kobelt’s system helped customers avoid the practice of demand sharing or “humbugging”. This was described by an anthropologist as part of the “foundational principles of reciprocity, exchange and sharing within a hunter gatherer society” and “an embedded social obligation of the Anangu that requires that they share their resources with specific categories of kin”. The practice is a cause of the commonly found over-crowding in housing in Aboriginal communities.

The process, known as ‘demand sharing’, means kinfolk can ask for accommodation because of the principle of reciprocal rights and obligations. … if the request comes from a relative who is of appropriate status, the householder would find it very difficult to say no, even if the house is already full. [9]

It can make working for the high wages available e.g. in mining, less attractive than staying on welfare, when one’s hard-won earnings result only in being subject to kin demands.

Treating the practice of demand sharing as part of “an enormous resource for Queensland” requires being blind to the damaging consequences of this culturally engrained practice.


Nepotism: At one level, kinship obligations are an admirable feature of indigenous culture.

Aboriginal kinship and family structures are still cohesive forces which bind Aboriginal people together in all parts of Australia. … Aboriginal family obligations, often are seen as nepotism by other Australians … The structure of Aboriginal families reflects cultural values and involving kinship responsibilities. For Aboriginal people kinship and family are especially important. Aboriginal people have family and kinship responsibilities that are not typical of non-Aboriginal families. Aboriginal people get things done through working through their family and kinship structures.[10]

But those kinship structures have a darker side. Kinship obligations including demand sharing, rather than mere greed, may well be responsible for the problem common in Aboriginal corporations that control millions of dollars in government grants and mining payments. Often there emerges a single powerful family whose members get the benefits to the exclusion of others in the community.

Mark Koolmatrie, an elder and chairman of the Tribal Owners of South Australia, has called for a full judicial inquiry into the governance of Aboriginal corporations and the actions of their lawyers: 

Millions are failing to make their way to the very needy… we must take steps to clean our own backyard.

Now is the hour when our indigenous community calls on South Australia’s Marshall government — and other governments — to help lead us away from the corporation management system that has led to widespread corruption, incompetence and nepotism….

Indigenous corporations throughout South Australia receive tens of millions of dollars annually through mining company payments under native title agreements or through grants for running health services and “community” organisations for what seems the creation and maintenance of family dynasties….

Under the native title system millions of dollars annually are paid to bodies often controlled by one family group who decide how the money is divided up in their community.

This leads to a power imbalance, opportunities for corruption and nepotism. … It is this simple: you do as the controlling family says or receive nothing…. There are many stories of people being threatened and assaulted for daring to stand up to these indigenous corporate bullies….

While this may be a surprise to non-indigenous Australians, it is no surprise to our communities, state governments or the opposition. … By having millions of dollars controlled by some families denies other families access to their community money. This denies these families the opportunity to start a business and to secure economic independence, it denies them educational opportunities such as improved literacy and numeracy, it limits the delivery of vital health services.[11]

The same problems currently exist in Aboriginal-controlled corporations in the Pilbara and Kakadu.[12]

Yet the Queensland government is blind to this damaging aspect of First Nations culture and is legislating to pretend that the entire culture, including all kinship practices, is an unqualified good.


Infanticide: This practice was widespread in 1788. It was the main way of limiting the size of the tribe. That was made necessary by the scarcity of food for each nomadic hunter-gatherer group. Another reason was that the mothers, who were as nomadic as other members of their tribe, could not carry more than a couple of children, especially given that they also acted as beasts of burden, carrying most of their family’s possessions. Some of the 19th century observations of settlers are gathered in the article by Quadrant‘s Bill Rubinstein, “Infanticide in Traditional Aboriginal Society”.

Infanticide was suppressed by the white authorities, so it is not a current feature of the “world’s oldest continuous culture”. But it long was a cultural practice. I doubt that any in the Queensland Government or its treaty committees would say it was part of an “an enormous resource for Queensland”.


Cannibalism: Many who appeared before the Select Committee of the Queensland Legislative Assembly into the Native Police in 1861 spoke of the evidence they saw of cannibalism among Aborigines in southern Queensland between 1840 and 1860. Further references to this traditional practice are set out in Rubenstein’s article, “The Incidence of Cannibalism in Aboriginal Society”. Cannibalism was sometimes engaged in as a ritual in Aboriginal culture. The horrifying episode witnessed by Charles Sievwright, assistant protector of the Aborigines of the Port Phillip District, in 1841, is one example.

I witnessed the most fearful scene of ferocious cannabilism[sic].  

The bowels and entire viscera having been disengaged from the body, were at first portioned out; but from the impatience of some of the women to get at the liver, a general scramble took place for it, and it was snatched in pieces, and, without the slightest process of cooking, was devoured with an eagerness and avidity, a keen, fiendish expression of impatience for more, from which scene, a memory too tenacious upon this subject will not allow me to escape; the kidneys and heart were in like manner immediately consumed, and as a climax to these revolting orgies, when the whole viscera were removed, a quantity of blood and serum which had collected in the cavity of the chest was eagerly collected in handsful [sic], and drunk by the old man who had dissected the body; the flesh was entirely cut off the ribs and back…

Sometimes, cannibalism was engaged in for nutrition. To the examples mentioned by Rubenstein, I add a reference to what the Queensland Police Commissioner Parry-Okeden wrote in his 1897 Report on the NQ Aborigines and the Native Police. He referred to the prevalence of cannibalism among far-North Queensland aborigines and how the availability of roaming stock to satisfy their desire for meat had considerably reduced cannibalism.[13]

Whatever be the role of cannibalism in anthropology, it will be surprising if any of the current members of the Queensland Government or its Treaty Committees will claim that long-lasting feature of traditional aboriginal culture “is an enormous resource for Queensland”.


Entrenching dishonesty: The government will not deal honestly with the damaging features of First Nations’ cultures. Its intent to enshrine in legislation unqualified praise for those cultures is not just another bit of pro-indigenous propaganda. The government has accepted its Treaty Committee recommendation that the planned Truth Telling and Healing Inquiry will “promote public awareness, inform education and develop shared understandings of First Nations cultures, histories, languages and traditions”. It says “It is anticipated that the Queensland Government would support Queensland schools to access and use resources generated through the Truth Telling and Healing Inquiry as source material to support teaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures.”

The spreading of false information to school children about the enormous resource of traditional culture under the guise of educating them would not so long ago have evoked public condemnation. Now, it will come with all the authority of an Act of the Queensland Parliament. The unalloyed beauty of indigenous culture will, through the education system, quickly become another entrenched myth about the idyllic life of First Nations people that was destroyed by the coming of the white man.

From 1981 to 1992, Douglas Drummond was Queensland’s Special Prosecutor following the Fitzgerald Inquiry, and subsequently a judge on the Federal Court of Australia, from which he retired in 2003. He wrote most recently for Quadrant of the politicised disgrace that is Victoria Police


[1] The Burden of Culture (2022), Gary Johns, p354

[2] Sutton p142. Also Johns p355

[3] Not Now, Not Ever: Putting an End to Domestic and Family Violence in Queensland 2015. p 50

[4] This is a newly identified condition described in an America Psychological Association publication in 2019 as “An emerging line of research”. ttps://www.apa.org/monitor/2019/02/legacy-trauma Monitor on Psychology February 2019, Vol 50, No. 2 

[5] Durmurgam: a Nangiomeri The Dreaming and Other Essays 2nd Ed 2010 at p 29

[6] Violence Dysfunction Aboriginality, address to National Press Club, 11 June 2003

[7] https://www.zalisteggall.com.au/media_release_one_minute_s_silence_needed_on_australia_day

[8] Quoted in The Black War in Queensland, Arthur Laurie, Royal Historical Society of Queensland Journal [Vol 6, 1959] pp 155-173

[9] Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute paper “Understanding ‘demand sharing’ of Indigenous households. Overcrowding stress is both psychologically and culturally determined” 5 Dec 2017

[10] http://www.workingwithindigenousaustralians.info/content/Practice_Implications_5_Family_and_Kinship.html

[11] The Australian 8 July 2020

[12] The Australian 3 Dec 2020 and The Australian 3 January 2023.



10 thoughts on “‘Enormous resource’? Only When Lies Are Revered

  • Blair says:

    “…Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders have a unique history, very different from that of other sections of the Queensland population and characterised by successive generations of colonisation, dispossession, violence, and discrimination. A legacy of trauma arising from this history pervades the lives of individuals, families and communities and is seen as a causal factor for violence in the lives of …Torres Strait Islander people, ”
    Succesive generations of colonisation
    Torres Strait Islands were annexed by the Colony of Queensland in the 1870s.
    Torres Strait Iislanders were not dispossessed of their land…see Mabo.
    The “Coming of the Light”,the adoption of Christianity throughout Torres Strait in the 1870s. together with the annexation of the Islands, were responsible for the ending of inter-island violence and head-hunting.
    “A legacy of trauma is seen as causal factor for violence in the lives of …Torres Strait Islander people, ”
    What legacy of trauma and seen by whom?

  • Alistair says:

    So funny! So much history to cancel!
    I have this quote from a report in 1885 by Police Magistrate, John Douglas, (a former Queensland Premier in 1877 and for whom Port Douglas is named) while residing on Thursday Island in the Torres Strait Group, noted similarities between the Torres Straits Islanders and the head hunters of New Guinea :

    “Dangerous and savage as the people of these islands were, they are now perfectly harmless and friendly. Even at Saibai, where, not more than three years ago the most confirmed of skull hunters were in office, there has been a complete change in policy. For this we are chiefly indebted to the representatives of the London Missionary Society.” (Stars of Talgai, Sharpe, 1993, p27)

    I guess that means a Premier of Queensland will have to be cancelled and Port Douglas re-named.

    Saibai? That rings a bell too. I seem to remember an SBS program Who Do You Think You Are? featuring Torres Straits Islander, Christine Anu. If my memory serves me right her grandfather features in the program – as a head man turning to Christianity after being sickened by the constant violence (if not headhunting) on Saibai. Fancy the SBS spreading such disinformation! Shame Shame Shame!

    And then there is that notorious racist right-winged organisation, the Cambridge University Press, who have recently reprinted Carl Lumholtz’s “Among Cannibals :Camp Life with the Aborigines of Queensland” (https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/among-cannibals/6DDDF45A1669DCB45EDEC89D829ED747)

    And so on and so on ….

  • lhackett01 says:

    The Truth about the Aborigine at the Time of Settlement and Thereafter.
    The truth about the Aborigine at the time of settlement and, for some thereafter, is contained in newspapers, journals, and reports published throughout the 1800s and beyond. These articles describe the Aborigine as experienced by the early Governors, explorers, and settlers at the time. There are millions of such articles published since the year 1800, that being some 12 years after settlement. More than 4,000 such articles were published between 1788 and 1839. These latter articles are particularly relevant because they reveal the cultural practises, behaviours, and character traits of the Aborigine as he was at the time of settlement. Overwhelmingly, these articles describe the Aborigine and his culture in disparaging terms. Admittedly, by 1839, settlers had moved into the areas occupied by about 20 Aboriginal groups only. Within those areas, some reports were favourable regarding their treatment by and relations with the Aborigine, seemingly because the settlers were providing benefits of food, clothing, and medical treatment.
    Pertinent questions need to be answered. Is Aboriginal culture something we should admire? Should we be supporting those Aborigines who claim they desire to maintain this culture, to return to their roots?
    The following are verbatim extracts from a very few of the 4,000 or so articles mentioned above. All can be found by searching the National Library of Australia, Trove, website; noting that this is only one source of such information.

    a. 16 Oct 1803: The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842)
    A contest afterwards took place between two opposite parties (of Aborigines) for the wife of one of the deceased. The exercise of merciless barbarity on this and similar occasions strongly characterizes this wretched race of men, who, but for the barbarous and irreconcileable usages in cases of homicide, would wholly extirpate their already thin and scattered handfuls. After receiving many severe blows from either party, and having her arms almost dragged from their sockets, the unfortunate ꜰᴀɪʀ (sic) was borne in triumph from the field.

    b. 17 Jun 1804: The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842)
    Phillips, who was best acquainted with the travel through the brush, proceeded towards the Mountains, and at length came up with forty or fifty of the hostile savages, who had a quantity of property of which they had stripped the Settlers; these retreating towards a cluster of Rocks formed a junction with another group much more formidable, compleating in all about 300. The few Settlers, agreeable to their instructions, endeavoured to ascertain their motives for the acts of depredation and cruelty they had committed; to which end they offered a parley and interrogated them whether they had been ill treated; but all they offered in their justification was an ironical declaration that they wanted and would have corn, wearing apparel, and whatever else the Settlers had; then throwing down a flight of spears, compelled the pursuers, in their own defence, to commence firing, in hopes to intimidate their assailants, but without the desired effect; and tho’ several must have been wounded, yet the great body hovered round the Settlers party, three of whom were laden with the most valuable part of the spoil which they had retaken from the forty at first fallen in with, and under cover of the fire of the other four, got into Richmond Hill without receiving a spear wound. Late accounts state that they still continue their ravages, and that another European had been speared at the beginning of the week. Two of the most violent and ferocious were shot at the Green Hills by the Military detachment sent to the relief of the settlers, whose self preservation requires that they should ever be on the alert to counteract the mischievous designs of the savage and unfeeling enemy.

    c. 19 Aug 1804: The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842)
    At the beginning of the last week the farm‐house of Gilbert was attacked, and his wife treated with barbarity, unpardonable in the most savage race of men. The poor woman perceiving that they were driving her little flock of poultry off the ground, reproached them with their injustice, and fain would have rescued a portion of her property; but the unfeeling wretches turned their spears upon her, nearly twenty of which they threw, but happily without the intended barbarous effect. One of the miscreants ran into the house and seized a musquet, which she also grasped, and determined not to part with; she maintained a short struggle against the assailant’s whole exertions, who at length yielded to her resolution, and quitted his hold, but with a violent blow on the head brought her to the ground. The wretches then took away every thing that was portable and made off. Several other settlers have lost swine as well as poultry, for which they can only account in the same manner; and such is the treachery of those indolent and vicious hordes that infest the above neighbourhood, as to render useless and abortive every effort to maintain their friendship. By long intercourse many of them have acquired so much of our language as to understand and be understood, but only apply the talent to mischief and deception.

    d. 19 Aug 1804: The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842)
    Some short time since a settler’s wife with a large family, entertained half‐a‐dozen of these idlers with an almost reprehensible hospitality, and they in return, amused her with assurances of their best wishes and gratitude to her bounty, but in the very interim, a body of their colleagues were busily employed in clearing a whole acre of corn, which they carried off either in canoes or on their shoulders. Major Jᴏʜɴꜱᴛᴏɴ was on Monday informed that they had given earnest of a new campaign in the above vicinity; and representing the circumstance to Head Quarters, Hɪꜱ Exᴄᴇʟʟᴇɴᴄʏ ordered a file of men to be dispatched from the Corps, and as no fresh accounts of depredation have been since received, it is to be hoped the fury of these savages, for which they appear likely ever to remain, may somewhat have abated.

    e. 11 Feb 1826: The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842)
    The aborigines of New Holland are the most wretched of the human race. They have no form of Government, and therefore no laws by which to regulate their actions. The act of cultivation is to them unknown. They have no houses, and the greater part of them are without clothing; the rest have only a few opossum skins sewed together with the sinews of the kangaroo, so as to make a rude garment barely sufficient to cover their nakedness. As to marriage, they have no conjugal affection; their only motive being to gratify sensual desire. When a man wishes to have a wife, he arms himself with a “nullermuller,” a stick about three feet long, with a nob at one end, and repairs at night to the place where the tribe has encamped, to which the female on whom he has fixed his choice belongs. When all are asleep, he seizes his prey either by the leg or arm, and scampers off with her as fast as he can, beating her most un- mercifully the whole way with his nullermuller. It sometimes happens, that fierce battles take place on these occasions, the result of which is. that much blood is shed and many lives lost. This extraordinary method of courting, is universal among them.

    f. 11 Feb 1826: The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842)
    This truly wretched race have no religion whatever; they have scarcely any idea of a Supreme Being, and they have no religious ceremonies at all. They have some notions of a future state of existence, but it is doubtful whether they have not derived this from the whites. Some of these blacks are very tall and corpulent. They are also very strong, active, and nimble. Many of them run up the trees, with incredible alertness and ease, without a hatchet. Their dispositions are commonly mild and gentle, and they are easily pleased; but when exasperated, they are as bad as any cannibals in the world, and are eager to shed blood.

    g. 7 Jul 1826: The Monitor (Sydney, NSW : 1826 – 1828)
    Now, Mr. Editor, for the subject matter originating those hostilities, you ascribe it to the interference of stockmen with the native women. I fearlessly assert, that their indignation is seldom if ever roused by such a cause. The natives allow the correspondence, and not only allow it, but frequently court it. I have had real and immediate experience of the fact: besides, in the upper part of the country, seldom do the women approach the hut of a European, but are generally sent forward, while the men pay their visits to obtain what provisions &c. they can. We deny that the natives court the whites to keep company with their women. We acknowledge, that having nothing to give in exchange for hatchets, tobacco, sugar, &c. the blacks will sell the virtue of their wives. But if payment be afterwards refused, they will then feel all the pangs of jealousy and revenge, and will take the life of the adulterer. Such conduct is not to be measured by our notions of charity and justice.

    h. 19 Sep 1838: The Sydney Herald (NSW : 1831 – 1842)
    These hordes of Aboriginal cannibals, to whom the veriest reptile that crawls the earth holds out matter for emulation, and who are far, very far, below the meanest brute in rationality, and every feeling pertaining thereto.

    i. 19 Sep 1838: The Sydney Herald (NSW : 1831 – 1842)
    What, I would also enquire has been shown in this account of “progress” in this twelve months expenditure of time, and for this twelve- months’ salary? Positively – nothing! Save what every man of common experience in the Colony, and of common sense, has long known, viz: – that the aboriginals of my native country, are the most de-generate, despicable, and brutal race of beings in existence, and stand as it were in scorn “to shame creation” – a scoff and a jest upon humanity – they are insensible to every tie which binds man to his friend – husband to wife – parent to its child – or creation to its God. They stand unprecedented in the annals of the most ancient and barbarous histories, as a nation notorious for the anti-civilizing propensities they put forth in opposition to every attempt made to reclaim them from their present wandering, abject, and brutal mode of life.

    j. 19 Sep 1838: The Sydney Herald (NSW : 1831 – 1842)
    The frequent and often fatal connexion between the male prisoners and these females I deny not, as I know it to exist to a dreadful extent — but I deny that the Europeans originally contaminate the aborigines — suffice it therefore. Now with respect to “fraud” being used to “seduce” mens’ wives from them – is there a man of any experience who will not tell you it is quite unnecessary — the women are meretricious to a shocking extent — the husband makes a property of his wife. One of their invariable and revolting customs, is an exchange of wives! — this continues as long as the tribes are in company.

    k. 19 Sep 1838: The Sydney Herald (NSW : 1831 – 1842)
    I am, of course, more cognizant of the habits and better acquainted with the natives of the southern Districts than any other, but I believe their manners differ as little as their language — and one tribe is a specimen of all — cannibals of the most revolting characters they are all — they make no secret of it — their wives and children as often become a prey to cannibalism in the tribe to which they belong as to another — gratitude they have none — to bind them to a home is impossible — they treat their females only as beasts of burthen — and have less affection for their children, than has a sow for its offspring — friendship they know not of — and the tie of kindred is acknowledged only so far as the fact admits it — it is never admitted by an interchange of affection — as a tribe or tribes they are cowardly, treacherous, and base — revenge, indiscriminate revenge is their sole guide as law — they know no God — and admit only in the most absurd and ridiculous manner the existence of an invisible agent which is believed to be of a bloody minded character — and they are thus as I said before the most abject beings on earth.

    l. 01 Sep 1838: Southern Australian (Adelaide, SA : 1838 – 1844)
    In this document it is represented, that the natives of that part of the country have assumed a hostile attitude, assembled in large numbers and committed many outrages, whereby several persons have been murdered, others have been obliged to abandon the flocks and herds, and the intercourse between the settlement and the rest of the colony, if it has not already ceased, has been rendered an undertaking of
    imminent danger to life and property. It is also stated, that you are not aware of any aggression on the part of her Majesty’s white subjects, whereby those atrocities could have been provoked, but ascribe them to the natural cupidity of the “aborigines, their want of moral principle, and their belief that forbearance in Europeans proceeds from impotence or fear, experience having shewn that attempts at conciliation have hitherto led only to acts of greater aggression, which would never have occurred had the coercion which was ultimately found necessary been resorted to in the first instance.

    These extracts show the circumstances prevailing in the years soon after settlement. The early settlers generally attempted to create a peaceful co-existence. In many cases their efforts were rewarded, at least for a time. When their efforts failed and Aborigines attacked the settlers and stole their produce, policing actions became necessary. There were no wars as is commonly claimed by activists today in their attempts to justify treaties, compensation and sovereignty. The so-called wars were only actions of pacification, skirmishes between groups of Aborigines and government police or soldiers, actions by settlers in defence of their lives and property, and official actions to ensure peace and stability of the early colony, including the attempted arrest of Aboriginal murderers, cannibals and thieves.
    Certainly, settlers committed some atrocities. The records, however, indicate that those actions were generally reactions to Aboriginal behaviour.

    • mrsfarley2001 says:

      There’s no such thing as “First Nations”. Never was, never will be. They were barbarians whose “culture” has absolutely nothing to offer civilised society. Neither has the confected twaddle of primitive dot “art” any merit except perhaps the decorative. Many aborigines have returned to the barbaric state, thanks to disgraceful government policies. Turn off the taps to this ideologically-driven catastrophe. The sooner the better. Thanks Quadrant, as always.

  • rosross says:

    There is no doubt the evidence exists for the primitive and violent nature of Aboriginal cultures but there is also no doubt that levels of denial are high in academia and the re-invention of history continues apace.

    Good to see Quadrant holding the line and supporting excellent articles such as this one.

  • Dallas Beaufort says:

    Who were the real stolen generations and will the Voice reveal Aboriginal secret mens business and stop brutalising their women and children today?

  • Michael says:

    Lie telling.

  • Lawrie Ayres says:

    The Queensland government probably is well aware of the truth but with the help of the untrustworthy MSM seeks to tell a new truth. This is the way great civilizations are reduced to ashes. It is to be hoped that Cristafulli and his opposition members will in debate remind Hansard of the facts.

    • DougD says:

      As for the MSM, Murdoch’s Courier Mail has refused to print an abridged version of this article.
      As for Crisafulli and the LNP opposition – not a peep out of them as they waived through Labor’s recent treaty legislation.

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