The Coniston Massacre

1928 marked the end of a long, bloody and shameful history of killings and massacres of Aboriginal people that had occurred throughout the country since the start of British colonisation in 1788.

In 1928 Central Australia experienced a severe drought that reduced the ground water. The original owners of the land did what they had done for thousands of years and gravitated to their ancient water sources, mainly in the form of soaks. For the pastoralists, the lack of water came at a crucial time as they were carving out vast tracts of land to run cattle.

Conflicts between Aboriginal people and white settlers resulted. The Aboriginal people were angry as they watched their waterholes being destroyed by cattle, fences being erected and white men taking their women as wives or servants. Their law, customs and traditions were being violated.

The new pastoralists became increasingly agitated by the “cheeky” Aborigines. In these parts, not only had they had become a nuisance, but they were competing with their cattle for the precious water.

On Coniston Station, just north of what is today Yuendumu, dingo trapper Fred Brooks made camp at a soak he shared with around 20 Warlpiri people. After taking liberties with one of the women he was murdered by her husband, the now notorious Bullfrog.  Led by Mounted Constable William Murray, a series of reprisal killings resulted in the slaughter of around 100 Aboriginal people.  The devastating impact of these killings forced the owners of the land to move away, too terrified and grief stricken to move back.

The pastoralist appeared to have won. But concerned missionaries in generated huge media interest and a federal enquiry was set up. This inquiry heard that 31 people were shot, although this is heavily disputed, but the most disturbing element of the findings was” killing of all blacks to be justified”. The Indigenous people from the area were excluded from the inquiry.

The events of that three-month period are still fresh in the minds of the Warlpiri, Anmatjere, Kaytete and Allyawar people today. The sons, daughters and grandchildren of the slaughtered are united in wanting to tell their story now.

Latest News

Coniston wins Award of Excellence

08.29am 23 July 2013

Coniston has won an Award of Excellence at the July 2013 ...CONTINUED »

Coniston broadcast on the Australia Network

17.23pm 25 June 2013

Coniston is part of the Australia Network indigenous lineup for ...CONTINUED »

Buy or Rent Coniston Film

19.22pm 30 April 2013

Coniston is now available to buy from the following ...CONTINUED »

Coniston on iView

08.46am 17 January 2013

After its screening on ABC on 14 January, Coniston is now ...CONTINUED »

Coniston screens on ABC1 TV 14 January 2013

11.19am 12 January 2013

Coniston will air for the first time on ABC1 TV on 14 January ...CONTINUED »

Coniston wins Best Docudrama Award at ATOM 2012

12.42pm 23 November 2012

Coniston was awarded the best Docudrama Award at  ATOM ...CONTINUED »

Coniston trailer online

17.18pm 03 October 2012

Haven't been able to get to see the Coniston documentary yet? ...CONTINUED »

Coniston on ABC's NT 7.30 Report

12.22pm 22 September 2012

Coniston was covered by the ABC's NT 7.30 Report on 21 ...CONTINUED »

Coniston sells out at Araluen

12.09pm 22 September 2012

It was an exciting night at Ataluen Theatre in Alice Springs on ...CONTINUED »

Coniston selected as finalist in the 2012 ATOM Awards

10.51am 04 September 2012

We are delighted that Coniston has been selected as a finalist ...CONTINUED »

Ticket sales open for Coniston documentary screening in Alice Springs

12.55pm 21 August 2012

Ticket sales have opened for the September 17 screening at ...CONTINUED »

Coniston at the Melbourne Film Festival

13.20pm 12 July 2012

Coniston has been selected for the 2012 Melbourne International ...CONTINUED »

Coniston screening sold out at Sydney Film Festival

15.15pm 11 June 2012

It was an exciting moment when Fiona Kitson and Elijah Jones ...CONTINUED »

Coniston documentary selected for the 2012 Sydney Film Festival

21.01pm 09 May 2012

We are thrilled that Coniston has been selected for the 2012 ...CONTINUED »

Coniston documentary nears completion

09.25am 19 April 2012

The Coniston documentary is in the final stages of post ...CONTINUED »

Coniston documentary gets into gear

12.11pm 18 June 2011

We've been very busy lately with finalising the financing and ...CONTINUED »

Francis Kelly receives the 2011 Tudawali Award

15.02pm 13 May 2011

Francis Jupurrurla Kelly, a key figure in the development of ...CONTINUED »

Coniston documentary : moving ahead

12.12pm 12 April 2011

The revised treatment for the Coniston Massacre documentary has ...CONTINUED »

News Archive

CALENDAR