A nest of hornets : the massacre of the Fraser family at Hornet Bank station, Central Queensland 1857 and related events




Reid, Gordon Stephen

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Just after the full moon had set early on 27 October 1857, Aborigines entered a darkened homestead on the Dawson River, Central Queensland, and killed all the men, except one who was knocked unconscious and left for dead. Then they induced the women and children outside and, after some deliberation, raped the three eldest and killed them all. The station family's name was Fraser and the tribe blamed for the attack was later known as the Jiman. The place was Hornet Bank sheep station, 30 miles west of Taroom. Among the 11 white victims were three employees - a tutor, and two shepherds. The eldest son of the family, William Fraser, had left some time previously with drays for Ipswich, 320 miles away. His 14-year-old brother, Sylvester, who had been knocked unconscious, soon recovered but lay hidden under his bed, listening as his mother and sisters were abused and slaughtered. Then, after the intruders had left about sunrise, Sylvester escaped to a neighbouring station and raised the alarm. In the retribution by the Native Mounted Police and settlers of the Upper Dawson and other districts, at least 150 Aborigines died; the total may have been 300. The long-term effect on the Jiman was the destruction of their society; the long-term effect on the Fraser brothers, William and Sylvester, was one of unremitting failure as colonists, and yet their story has become Queensland legend. Their revenge against the Jiman, without prosecution, helped to set the pattern for white attitudes and colonial government policy towards the Aborigines of Queensland for 40 years.






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