Stradbroke and Moreton Islands 1832-1833

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There are three rather conflicted written accounts of conflict between soldiers and Aboriginal groups, roughly between 1832 and 1833.  Oral traditions of the Aboriginal residents add further details.

Figure 1: amity point pilot station in the 1830s

The conflict seems to have erupted over killings and counter-killings involving the European staff of the Amity Point pilot station and a local headman, who was killed in a fishing trip. According to one account (of Thomas Welsby) the result was a day-long pitched battle against a group of soldiers at the flats of Cooroon Cooroonpah Creek (north of Myora).

Although the accounts of the Battle of Cooroon Cooroonpah Creek differ in details, they indicate that the conflict began with the Amity Point Pilot Station. After a few payback killings at Point Lookout and Dunwich for the abduction of Aboriginal girls and the killing of a headman, soldiers were sent from the mainland, attacking camps on the southern end of Moreton Island and purportedly killing some 15 to 20 Aboriginals. The conflict came to a peak with a day-long pitched battle north of Myora (at Cooroon Cooronpah Creek) between soldiers and warriors. It seems to have ended in a stalemate, and accounts vary as to casualties – some listing a couple of soldiers being killed, other accounts saying no one died on either side. Quandamooka oral history is that Dunwich Cemetery was begun with some of the dead warriors from this battle.

Figure 2: map of the cooroon cooroonpah creek area, stradbroke island. Hills on both sides were used for vantage and camping.

The long grass of this location and the clunky nature of muskets (which took time to reload) enabled the warriors to sneak up repeatedly on the soldiers. The battle purportedly established some of the terms of cooperation that the Stradbroke people thereafter maintained with white settlement.

Figure 3: plan Of Dunwich Military Garrison 1828. this is where the soldiers would have been quartered prior to The battle.

References:

  • Anderson, R., 2001, History, Life and Times of Robert Anderson Gheebulum, Ngugi, Mulgumpin South Brisbane Uniikup
  • Carter, P, Ellie Durbidge & Jenny Cooke-Bramley (eds.), 199?, Historic North Stradbroke Island Dunwich: North Stradbroke Island Historical Museum
  • Gentz, Allen M, 2012 ‘Ground Penetrating Radr Investigation of the Convict Barracks, Dunwich, North Stradbroke Island, Queensland, Australia’ Report to North Stradbroke Historical Museum
  • JOL Pamphlet, O’Keefe, M., 1975, Some Aspects of the History of Stradbroke Island Brisbane
  • JOL Pamphlet, Watkins, G, 1891 ‘Notes on the Aboriginals of Stradbroke and Moreton Islands,’ Brisbane: Royal Society of Queensland
  • JOL Vertical File, Welsby, T, 1940 Moreton Bay Natives: Tribes Now Extinct
  • Meston, A., Jan 1895,  ‘Moreton Bay and Islands,’ Paper read at the Australian Association for the Advancement of Science (Brisbane)
  • Steele, J.G. 1975, Brisbane Town in Convict Days 1824-1842, Brisbane, University of Queensland Press
  • Welsby, T., 1922, Memories of Amity Brisbane: Watson, Ferguson and Co
  • Whalley, P, 1987, An Introduction to the Aboriginal Social history of Moreton Bay South East Queensland from 1799 to 1830, Brisbane: Peter Whalley
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