top of page


From Ruby Langford (1994). My Bundjalung People. pp 75-78

The 1842/1843 European squatters & sawyers massacre of 100 Bundjalung nation tribes people at Evans Head was variously said to have been in retaliation for the killing of "a few sheep", or the killing of "five European men" from the 1842 "Pelican Creek tragedy".


James Ainsworth: Casino and Kyogle Courier and North Coast Advertiser (NSW : 1904 - 1932), Saturday 7 October 1922, p. 3



In 1853 or '54, when Queensland was still under the jurisdiction of N.S.W., it was the custom (occasionally) to patrol distant territories with black-trackers in charge of white troopers. These were trained horsemen and musket shots, but were possessed very often with only a cramped conception of their duty. It had been alleged in Brisbane that the blacks to the north of the Tweed had murdered some white men and that the murderers had fled south towards the Richmond. In due course one afternoon one of these patrols — a small one — rode into East Ballina and put up at Ainsworth's public house, "The Sailor's Home." That is to say, the white troopers stayed at the hotel while the black trackers camped outside. The object of the mission to Ballina was not disclosed to the settlement and no inquiries were made by the patrol, but at 3 o'clock the next morning they turned out and ascended the hill in the direction of the present reservoir. The blacks had a camping ground on the clear slope of the hill facing the valley reaching over towards Black Head. At the time between 200 and 300 of them lay asleep in the camp. The troopers and trackers stealthily surrounded the slumbering blacks, and when sufficiently close at a given signal opened fire. Men, women and children were slaughtered without mercy, and their screams and cries during the onslaught were heart-rending. Between 30 and 40 of the poor wretches were killed outright, and many who got away were badly wounded. Their graves may still be found on the fatal ridges. The patrol, after its bloody work, returned north, and the white settlers at East Ballina reported the unprovoked massacre to the N.S.W. Government. The authorities, however, gave no satisfaction, and when pressed to take action against the troopers the settlers were peremptorily told to mind their own business and were warned that persistence in the matter might lead to trouble for them. In their flight from the camp the blacks took refuge in the scrub and did not return for quite a period. They sought no reprisals and took no re-venge; and to the credit of the whites, in the meantime, be it added, they were shown every sympathy and every assistance.

bottom of page