The Encyclopaedia of Australia's Battles

The Encyclopaedia of Australia's Battles

The Encyclopaedia of Australia's Battles

The Encyclopaedia of Australia's Battles


"A chronological reference work describing all the major battles fought in Australia or by Australians overseas, providing the 'where, when, who, what and how' of each action."


Botany Bay, a clash between Gamaraigal Aborigines and convicts from the settlement at Port Jackson (Sydney), fought on 6 March 1789. The incident was triggered by the murder by Aborigines of a convict labourer who strayed from the brick-kilns at Rose Hill, near the head of Darling Harbour, in search of a herb known as ‘sweet tea’. The sixteen members of the brickmaker's gang to which the man belonged decided to avenge his death and, taking up staves, marched to Botany Bay in search of the killers.

When the party arrived at the bay, they were met by a larger number of Aborigines than they expected and these—having guessed the convicts’ purpose—attacked with spears, killing one man and wounding six or seven others. The next day the colony's governor, Captain Arthur Phillip, RN, sent armed marines into the area to restore order. These found the body of the convict felled and another who had been left wounded at the scene of the fight. For disobeying his orders aimed at maintaining relations with the Aborigines, Phillip ordered those not already injured to receive 150 lashes and for the rest to receive the same punishment as soon as they recovered.

George Barrington (1825) The History of New South Wales, including Botany Bay, Port Jackson, Parramatta, Sydney …, 2nd edn, London: M. Jones; Australia's Heritage (1971), vol.1, Sydney: Hamlyn House

Richmond Hill, an encounter between Dharuk (Darug) Aborigines and troops of the New South Wales Corps, fought in June 1795 on the Hawkesbury River, New South Wales. When five settlers in the district were killed and others wounded in attacks by Aborigines within the space of a few weeks, the acting governor, Captain William Paterson, decided to send a detachment of 60 soldiers under Lieutenant Edward Abbott ‘to drive the natives to a distance’. The evening after this force arrived at the Hawkesbury, it fired upon and pursued a large body of Dharuks ‘who had concealed themselves in the neighbouring woods during the day, and at night came to a settler's farm to plunder it’. Abbott reported seven or eight Dharuks supposed killed, while five (one man, four women) were taken prisoner.

Historical Records of Australia, Series I, vol.1 (1914), Sydney: Commonwealth Parliament Library Committee

Parramatta, the site of a skirmish in March 1797 in which Bidjigal (Bediagal) Aborigines fought white settlers and troops of the New South Wales Corps. The clash followed depredations upon settlers in the Toongabbie district, led by the Aborigines—noted guerilla leader Pemulwuy. An armed party was sent after the marauders, and following a pursuit lasting throughout one night came across their quarry—numbering about 100—the next day. The Aborigines fled, leaving the . . .

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