Wp/nys/Wonnerup (Minninup) Massacre

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The Wonnerup (Minninup) Massacre occurred in 1841. The killing of George Layman, a settler at Wonnerup, early in the morning on 22 February 1841 by Gayware (or Gaywal or Gawall), an elder of the Wadandi (Wardandi) people, gave the opportunity for decisive action to pacify the Wadandi. Layman had pulled Gayware's beard, an extremely provocative act, which led to Gayware spearing Layman who made it back to his house where he died. Settler stories say the initial cause of the trouble was the non-payment of flour by Layman and the theft of damper by Gayware, Wadandi stories say it was because Gayware wanted his wife back and Layman didn't want to let her go as she was working as a servant on the farm.[1]

Two days after Layman's death a party of settlers and soldiers led by Captain John Molloy set off ostensibly in pursuit of Gayware. After an initial clash with the Wadandi, Gayware is later found and shot dead. Molloy is also the magistrate for Busselton and has to make a report of what happened. In his report he wrote that four Wadandi men and one woman were killed. The report was co-signed by a witness, John Garret Bussell, who was a justice of the peace.[1]

There are statues of John Garret Bussell and Gayware in Busselton.

However, this report was a cover up as Molloy's party was a punitive expedition which even caused dissent among the Wadjela settler community. Gayware and his sons went North towards Minninup. Wadjela who were sympathetic to the Aboriginal people hid them in their barns from Molloy. The expedition came across a group of Wadandi on the sands of Lake Minninup, and because they would not say where Gayware was, Molloy's party killed them, including the elders and children. Their bones were left there and were sometimes later uncovered and then covered again by the shifting sands.[2][1] Aboriginal people know that the Bussels were among the Wadjela who killed their people.

A report in the Western Mail on 26 June 1914 compares the massacre to the Pinjarra Massacre and says it was worse! Like the Wadjela reports of the Pinjarra Massacre, the report says no women or children were killed, but this is untrue and just trying to minimise the savagery of the attack by the settlers:[2]

Small parties of natives fled in terror from the threatened invasion, but the majority sought security in the thick bush surrounding Lake Mininup. The isolated natives already slaughtered did not appease the vengeance of the whites. With steady determination the main body was tracked. Over hill and dale they followed the scent, until the congregated aboriginals were discovered in their hiding place at the lake. The natives broke from cover, but were quickly overtaken and surrounded by the infuriated whites. There was now no escape, and the report furnishes the details of a hideous massacre. Again and again the blacks charged the wall of fire in the hope of breaking through the cordon, only to be beaten back, broken and in despair. Their appeals for mercy and cries of terror were smothered by the continuous roll of musketry, but even amidst the strenuous fight not a woman or child suffered harm. The battle of Pinjarra pales into utter in-significance when compared with this deed of extermination.

The initial cover up of this massacre, and that later the killing of women and children continued to be denied, demonstrates that the perpetrators knew what did was very wrong and the wider Wadjela community was ashamed of what had happened.

See also[edit | edit source]

  • A mass killing of at least 18 Karajarri people by wadjela explorers occurred in 1864 at Lagrange, southwest of the Kimberleys in the northern Pilbara. The three white explorer perpetrators were killed by the Karajarri, so this is probably better described as a battle rather than a massacre. Nidja is relevant to the Noongar story because there is a memorial to the three explorers killed, known as the Explorers' Monument, in Fremantle. The La Grange Massacre of around 20 Karajarri in 1865 was payback for the deaths of the three murderers, after a wadjela search wer rescue mission for the wadjela explorers found them dead. This was definitely a massacre.
  • Flying Foam Massacre, Burrup Peninsula near Karratha, 1868.[6]

Ngiyan waarnk - References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Sam Carmody. "the ghosts are not silent", ABC News Background Briefing, 16 September 2021. Retrieved 17 September 2021
  2. 2.0 2.1 "EARLY ABORIGINAL TROUBLES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA: In 1841, a most bloodthirsty enterprise was reported to have been carried out by a party of settlers in the Vasse district", TROVE, Western Mail (Perth, WA : 1885 - 1954), Fri 26 Jun 1914, Page 52. Retrieved 18 September 2021
  3. "Professor Lyndall Ryan". University of Newcastle. Retrieved 13 February 2019
  4. Bridget Brennan 2017. "New map records massacres of Aboriginal people in Frontier Wars". ABC News. 4 July 2017. Retrieved 25 August 2017
  5. Bridget Brennan 2018. "Map of Indigenous massacres grows to include more sites of violence across Australia". ABC News. 27 July 2018. Retrieved 13 February 2019
  6. Kendall O'Connor and Sonia Feng. Indigenous locals call for more information at site of Flying Foam Massacre. ABC News, ABC North West WA. 16 April 2018. Retrieved 16 April 2018