Natives Slaughtered on the Murray

15 September 1841 Adelaide Chronicle and South Australian Literary Record

On Thursday evening last Mr Robinson, who has been for some time expected overland, arrived in Adelaide, having left his party about 170 miles distant, all well.

On the Rufus, however, at the place where Mr Langhorne's party was attacked, another engagement with the native tribes took place, and subsequently a second, in which the police party under Mr. Shaw also took part.

In both of these engagements a considerable number of natives were slaughtered.

Lamentable as is the sacrifice of so much, human life, we cannot see that the, party had any alternative; and we have little doubt but that the lesson the natives have received will be productive of salutary effects. 

The successful issue of their, attack upon Mr. Inman's and the first volunteer party must have imbued them with no very exalted notions, of the prowess of the white men; but they must now have fund out their mistake, and will be less likely, we think, to molest overland parties in future. 

We have not room for the lengthy account of the affair given by Mr Moorhouse, which has been published by our contemporaries, nor do we think its publication again necessary.   

The statement of Mr. Robinson, which contains the facts of the case, will be sufficient. 

We understand his Excellency the Governor has instituted an enquiry into the affair, the result of which will probably be known in a few days.  

Statement Of Mr Robinson 

In company with Mr Warrener and Mr Barker, I left Gundagay [Gundagai, Ed.], upon the Murrumbidgee, on the 1st July, with 6000 ewes, 14horses, 500 mixed herd of cattle, 3 drays, and 26 in the party.

In consequence of the reports of the fate of Mr Inman's and Mr Langhorne's parties, we were well armed.

In proceeding down the Murrumbidgee, we saw blacks the whole way, but kept them off the camp, and never allowed one to come near.

The Darling was in full stream, and there were three cattle lost in crossing.

On approaching the Rufus, I had remained a day's march behind, looking for the strayed cattle, and saw thirty or forty natives, armed, proceeding across the track towards the Lake.

The blacks, on seeing me, crossed the Murray.

The day following I had gone ahead to look for a landing place.

On my return to meet the party, I saw about three hundred blacks.

On their perceiving me, they formed themselves into a half-circle, and appeared to be inclined to oppose our progress. 

I immediately went back to the party - got all the sheep and cattle together - left about nine men with the drays - and with the remainder of the party went to the blacks, who by this time had come up to within a few yards of the sheep, making the most horrid yells and gestures, and evidently preparing for an attack on our property.

On our approach, they advanced, and we commenced firing: we discharged about eight rounds each before the blacks gave the least way. They now began to retreat.

We then advanced, and drove them back into the bush. During this affray about fifteen were killed and wounded.

We then proceeded to the Rufus, where we encamped.

On the morning following, in searching for a place to cross the Rufus, which was full, I discovered the party that had come out from Adelaide to meet us.

They told us that they expected an attack that day.

I said I though not, as we had beaten them the day before. 

On preparing to cross the Rufus at the place where Mr Langborne's men were killed, some of the Adelaide party said the blacks were approaching through the scrub.

Three blacks, whom Mr Moorhouse a few days before had sent a-head to pacify the hostile tribe, returned and informed us that the blacks were close at hand in great numbers - that they were full of wrath, and determined to fight and take away our blankets, tomahawks, and sheep.

By this time they were in sight, on the Sydney side of the Rufus.

The overland party attacked them, and drove them into the Rufus, where they were met by the Adelaide party.

During this engagement, from thirty to forty were killed, and as many wounded; and one man, a boy, and two women taken prisoners.

One woman and boy were liberated; the other woman claimed by one of the Adelaide blacks as his wife.

The prisoner attempted to escape on the subsequent day; but was afterwards secured, after having received three shots.

After this, Mr Moorhouse admitted several of the Lake Bonney blacks to his camp who are accompanying him to Adelaide. 

I left the party about 15 miles on the west side of Lake Bonney, about 170 miles from Adelaide; and no other attack was anticipated.

 The sheep and cattle are in very good condition, and may be expected to be at their stations about the end of next week. 

I consider that, notwithstanding the severe punishment the blacks have just had, they will annoy any following party as much as they did ours; and unless there be a well-armed party of twenty five or thirty; I should say they would incur great, danger in the journey.   

On entering South Australia, the difference of country is most striking; nothing can be finer than the tracts from the Springs to Adelaide

Adelaide, 10th Sept., 1841.