Remembering The Appin Massacre & The Ongoing Frontier Wars

Today, as ANZAC Day approaches, around 300 people commemorated the 201st anniversary of the Appin massacre, on the site where scores of Dharawal men, women and children were massacred over the cliffs, to the south west of what is now known as Sydney.

In 1816, in his own journal, then Governor Lachlan Macquarie wrote that:

"I have this Day ordered three Separate Military Detachments to march into the Interior and remote parts of the Colony, for the purpose of Punishing the Hostile Natives, by clearing the Country of them entirely... In the event of the Natives making the smallest show of resistance – or refusing to surrender when called upon so to do – the officers Commanding the Military Parties have been authorized to fire on them to compel them to surrender; hanging up on Trees the Bodies of such Natives as may be killed on such occasions, in order to strike the greater terror into the Survivors."

Other accounts of the Appin Massacre can be found here, here and here.

It is a cruel irony that the Dharawal language was known as the language of 'peace' because all local clans and tribes spoke it, meaning it was spoken in times of consultation, collaboration and reconciliation.

Aunty Francis Bodkin (pictured standing next to the memorial plaque) has been instrumental in the revival of Dharawal - she translated the entire Macquarie dictionary into Dharawal, despite being banned from speaking it when she was a child.

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