December 2022 Guest speaker, James McDonald

The Frontier Wars in Canberra

Dr McDonald gave an illuminating presentation to this last gathering of the Vintage Reds for the year. He is an historian of ancient Greece, and has also published on Canberra’s pastoral history (see his article, “A good sheep station ruined“).

[photo: courtesy of The Greek Herald online]

He discussed how Canberra historians have written about the Canberra region, including their claims that there was no problem in the area in terms of massacres. However, this is clearly incorrect. There were mass killings and rapes in the Canberra region during a sort of guerrilla war. For example James Ainslie boasted about killing and shooting a lot of Aborigines.

In 1890-94 influenza killed a lot of Indigenous people, decimating what was already a small population.

James has published his work on this subject, “Canberra and the Frontier Wars“, in the Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, no.108, Part 1 (Jun 2022). VR members may ask the convenor for a copy.