Aboriginal Resistance Heroes
As the colonial frontiers advanced, some Aboriginal people became prominent in their violent resistance.
Pemulwuy was an Eora man, his people immediately affected by the settlement of the Port Jackson area. From 1790 until 1802 Pemulwuy waged a remarkably brave and successful guerilla resistance in what has now become the city of Sydney. His military exploits included attacks on the major inland British settlements of Toongabbie and Parramatta. Eora people credited him with a magical invincibility. He was ambushed, shot and beheaded in 1802.
Windradyne was a Wiradjuri, from the central western New South Wales. In the years 1822-3 he and his fellows raided settlers, killing some and terrifying all. The Government's determined response had left 100 Wiradjuri dead by mid 1824, including Windradyne's family. As the hunt for Windradyne continued, several hundred Wiradjuri were killed or wounded along the western side of the Great Dividing Range. The toll was great, and Windradyne and his people soon made a peace accord with Governor Brisbane at a ceremony in Parramatta.
Yagan's country was the region of the Swan and Canning rivers. When captured, after a series of skirmishes in 1831, he was held as a prisoner of war. He soon escaped. After his brother Domjum was killed and his head displayed, Yagan killed two settlers, and was declared 'wanted dead or alive' along with his associates Midgegooroo and Munday. Though the latter were captured and executed, Yagan remained free until shot and decapitated by a teenage settler on the upper Swan River in July 1833.
Calyute, like Yagan, defended Swan River country from the invasion which commenced in 1829. In 1834 he led 30 Pinjarup men in a raid on a South Perth flour mill. When captured Calyute was bayoneted, flogged and gaoled before being released. After a settler was murdered by his group, Calyute and his associates were attacked by soldiers - the Battle of Pinjarra. Calyute survived the massacre of his people, and lived to an old age.
Jandamarra or 'Pigeon' harassed sheep herds and their owners who settled the Western Kimberley in the late 1880s. Captured, he agreed to work for the police. However, his Punuba captives shamed him into shooting his police boss in October 1894 and Jandamarra was an outlaw once more, ambushing and killing stockmen. Police reprisals brought a severe toll in the Lennard River area, until Jandamarra and his associates fought a pitched battle (they had captured guns) with police in Windjana Gorge in November 1894. Though wounded, Jandamarra survived and recovered in his rocky and inaccessible homelands. He was killed in 1897, having been wounded while attempting to release chained Aboriginal prisoners.
Keywords: colonial warfare, colonialism, colonists, Eora, Jandamarra, massacres, New South Wales, Pemulwuy, resistance, Sydney, warriors, Windradyne, Yagan, 1790-1897
Encyclopaedia of Aboriginal Australia, 1994, AIATSIS.
Author: Rowse, Tim and Graham, Trevor