Immigration into Queensland

It is important to understand that Queensland  Aborigines had had interactions with other nations prior to Captain James Cook arrival.  Willem Janszoon (c. 1570–1630) made the first recorded European landing on the Australian continent in 1606, sailing from Bantam, Java in the Duyfken.The Dutch explorer,  reaches Queensland mainland in 1606 were we have the first recorded encounter with Aborigines in western Cape York.

Willem Janszoon Wikipedia


Terra Nullius

British immigrants believed that Australia was Terra nullius "land belonging to no one" therefore they had the false belief that they had the right to take land.

In 1838 the stealing of Aboriginal land occurred with the term "free settlement", within Queensland.

The environment was harsh so the settlers relied on local Aboriginal assistance in providing goods and services. At the time assistance was given, but later denied as it became clear that the new settlers would take occupied tribal land and refused to provide compensation to local groups who's natural resources were being destroyed.

The European settlers were judged as thieves by Aborigines standard and when live stock was brought on to Aboriginal land and not shared, they were also judged as greedy. 

The cultural confusions occurred with the European placing up fences, bringing diseases and shooting Aboriginal people as trespasses on the land that they had lived on for thousand of years.

Indigenous vs non-Indigenous

Their are a variety of Indigenous people in the world.  The difference between Indigenous people in the world and non-indigenous can be explained and taught this way. 

  • Indigenous people created their traditions in accordance to the environment provided.
  • non-Indigenous people colonialised the land.  They terraform the environment, [ changed the land, livestock, law, culture and customs] to be similar to the country they had left behind.

British immigrants did not confirm to the environment like the Aboriginals, instead they manipulated it to suite their life style in England.  Their assumptions and arrogance in their own superiority meant that they did not take the time to understanding the original owners of the land culture or believes.

Brisbane was the first location for European settlement in Queensland, it was initially a penal colony for British convicts in 1824.  In the early days of Brisbane it has been noted that the cruelty committed on prisoners by guards was atrocious and there was little contact between Aboriginals, except in the cases of runaway prisoners, such as James Davies.

European settlers terraform and destroyed most of the natural environment. To see a digital representation of Sydney before settlement visit Immersive Heritatge.

Immersive Heritage aims to take users of their technology on a journey back in time, be it 50 years or 500 years to experience how it was and appreciate the history of an area.



Dundalli (c.1820-1855), Aboriginal leader, was born in the mountains (Blackall Range), north-west of Moreton Bay (Queensland).

A legend grew up around Dundalli as he evaded capture over a fourteen-year period and the Whites sought to connect him with almost every act of violence committed on the northern side of the Brisbane River.

The indigenous community was divided between those who supported and attempted to protect him and the traditional enemies of the Djindubari, who feared him and were prepared to inform the police of his whereabouts. One reason for his mystique was his size.

Dundalli was one of the first Aboriginals executed in a public hanging in Queen Street, Brisbane in 16th December 1854.

His trial judge later wrote that Dundalli 'was the largest man I ever looked upon', well over six feet (183 cm) tall.

Australian Dictionary of Biography - Dundalli (1820–1855) by Libby Connors

For over 10 years Dundalli attacked settlers, conducted robbery causing serious bodily harm and killed their stock. Aboriginal people see him as a resistance leader, but the new Australians saw him as a criminal and murderer.

Yet Dundalli was only fulfilling his role as a leader within a warrior society ‘warfare is that of reciprocity: if a harm has been done to an individual or a group…they must repay…by an injury that at least equals the one they have suffered’ (Mulvaney 1989:3). Mulvaney sums up the settler violence and Aboriginal retaliations as a ‘suffocation of conscience’ that lead to ‘history of indifference’ (Mulvaney 1989:7)

Griffith Institute for Educational Research Aboriginal
Heroes: Dundalli a ‘Turrwan’ an Aboriginal Leader 1842-1854


Trove Queensland Newspapers

On 6 September 1859, the Municipality of Brisbane was proclaimed, Queensland became a State in Australia.  By 1869, many of the Aborigines of Brisbane (Turrbul) had died from gunshot or disease. This can be seen in the correspondences in the Moreton Bay Courier.

Visit Trove to see Queensland Newspapers. http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper

If you wish to see the original hard-copy some Queensland Newspaper, then visit the State Library of Queensland.

Native Police

The Native Police was established in 1848, but it was not until 1863 that new legislation confirmed their existence.  In 1865 the Native Police were renamed the Native Mounted Police and became the responsibility of the Queensland Government’s Commissioner of Police.

In 1863 Queensland employed 137 men in the Native Mounted Police of which 103 were native troopers.  Most of the Aboriginal troopers were renamed “Black Trackers”.  Queensland was divided into five divisions, Central Queensland, Central Highlands, Bowen, Moreton and Warrego – South West.  Central Queensland having thirty-nine (39) men assigned to this division, by the late 1860’s other division included the Rockingham Bay and North Kennedy districts.  

 The main task of the Mounted Native Police was to ‘pacify the frontier’ and offer protection to white settlers as land was taken up for pastoral occupation in the more remote areas of Queensland. The pastoralists felt it was necessary to have a force to protect their lives, stock and property.

The Native Police Force of trained Aborigines was a new concept which combined European discipline and weapons with the highly developed Aboriginal bush skill and cunning. Previously the attacking tribes had been able to vanish into the scrubs, but the Native Police troopers, mounted on horseback, were easily able to overtake them. (Skinner, L., 1975).

It was recognised in 1884 by the Commissioner of Police that food shortages was the major contributing factor to the trouble on the frontier as the tribes/ clans lost their hunting grounds to pastoral land holders.  In 1896 Archibald Meston recommended the complete abolition of the Native Police Service. In its place he recommended the employment of more white police who were instead accompanied by unarmed black trackers.

The Native Police were not suddenly disbanded, rather their duties were gradually merged into the regular police service so that by 1913 only one detachment was operating in Cape York.

When searching for material on the Native Mounted Police it is important to remember that the Queensland State Archives hold a number of records, such as the correspondence from the Colonial Secretary’s Office, Letterbooks from various departments, and Native Police agencies.  Other records include duty lists, requisitions, accounts and reports.  Queensland State Archives has a booklet Native Police and Black Tracker Records – Mini Pathways  (2002) Queensland State Archives. PUB-QSA-149 Version 0.

In the 1880-1890's Europeans Settlers believed that Aboriginal were a dying race and need to be protected.  New legislation was being created to control every aspect of an Aboriginal's life and forcible remove Aborigines off land that was agriculturally rich in Queensland

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