Hornet Bank massacre

Hornet Bank massacre

The Hornet Bank massacre of eleven Europeans, including eight members of the Fraser family, took place about dawn on 27 October 1857 at a station on the upper Dawson River in central Queensland, Australia. Squatters had begun to occupy this country from 1847 following Ludwig Leichhardt's 1844-45 journey through the area on his expedition to find an overland route to Port Essington on the north coast of Australia. The first European occupant of Hornet Bank station, Andrew Scott, arrived in the early 1850s. In 1854 he leased the station to Scottish-born John Fraser who took his wife, Martha, and a large family ranging in age from young children to the early twenties, to live in this isolated area near the edge of European settlement. Two years later John Fraser died of dysentery while on a droving trip to Ipswich and his eldest son, William, then aged 23, took over management of the station in collaboration with the lessee, Andrew Scott.Clarke, Patricia. [http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-9547945_ITM Turning fact into fiction: the 1857 Hornet Bank massacre] , M A R G I N: life & letters in early Australia. ] (1)

The stations on the Dawson River were on the land of the Yiman people who bitterly resented the invasion of the European settlers with their flocks of sheep and herds of cattle while, to the Europeans, the Yiman were an impediment to the expansion of their pastoral empires. Stories circulated of Aboriginal people murdered by poisoning--on one station they were given a Christmas pudding laced with strychnine--and of the abduction and rape of Aboriginal women. Cruelty towards the Yiman people inflamed their already overwhelming sense of injustice at being forced off the land that had been theirs back to the broken, scrubby gorge country and they made the country dangerous for the European invaders. Shepherds in boundary huts were attacked and killed and settlers feared leaving their wives and children unprotected.The Yiman attacked the Fraser homestead at dawn on 27 October 1857. Those in the house were Martha Fraser, eight of her nine children (some adult), James Neagle (their tutor), four white station hands and Bahlee, an Aboriginal servant. The evening before the attack, Bahlee, persuaded to collaborate, had killed all the station dogs. The attackers clubbed the men, castrated Neagle, raped the three oldest women, clubbed them and the remaining children and killed two station hands on the way out. The only survivor was fourteen-year-old Sylvester Fraser who, left for dead, raised the alarm. Posses quickly combed the district and began the first of many massacres to occur over succeeding weeks. [Gordon Reid. Nest of Hornets: The Massacre of the Fraser Family at Hornet Bank Station, Central Queensland, 1857, and Related Events. New York: Oxford University, 1983.] The most ruthless avenger was William Fraser (away in Ipswich at the time of the massacre). Allowed to ride with the Native Police, he had 'every opportunity to assuage his grief through murder'. He continued killing randomly wherever he found Aborigines. He shot an Aboriginal woman in the main street of Rockhampton because she was wearing his mother's dress. Billy Fraser almost certainly killed over 100 members of the tribe making him the greatest mass murderer in Australian history.He shot an Aboriginal jockey at the racetrack in Taroom." [http://www.smh.com.au/news/Queensland/Taroom/2005/02/17/1108500203761.html Taroom Small rural service centre] ", The Sydney Morning Herald February 8, 2004 ] How many people died as a result of the attack at Hornet Bank is unknown, but few Yiman survived. Some managed to flee to Maryborough (300km east of Taroom), but even there they were unsafe. The police continued harassing them for a number of years after.


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