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Episode 486

Avenue Range Station massacre
Mon, 2018-Sep-03 00:05 UTC
Length - 3:09

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Welcome to featured Wiki of the Day where we read the summary of the featured Wikipedia article every day.

The featured article for Monday, 3 September 2018 is Avenue Range Station massacre.

The Avenue Range Station massacre was the murder of a group of Aboriginal Australians by white settlers during the Australian frontier wars. It occurred in about September 1848 at Avenue Range, a sheep station in the southeast of the Colony of South Australia.

Information is scarce about the basic facts of the massacre, including the exact date and number of victims. A contemporary account of the massacre listed nine victims – three women, two teenage girls, three infants, and an "old man blind and infirm". Another account published by Christina Smith in 1880 gave the number of victims as eleven, and specified that they belonged to the Tanganekald people. Pastoralist James Brown and his overseer, a man named Eastwood, were suspected of committing the murders in retaliation for attacks on his sheep.

In January 1849, reports of a massacre reached Matthew Moorhouse, the Protector of Aborigines. He visited the district to investigate the claims, and based on his enquiries Brown was charged with the murders in March 1849. Proceedings against Brown began in June 1849 and continued in the Supreme Court of South Australia for several months, but were eventually abandoned. A number of key witnesses, including Eastwood, either fled the colony or refused to cooperate with the investigation. There were also significant restrictions on the use of evidence given by Aboriginal witnesses, especially where a verdict could involve capital punishment. These legal hurdles combined with settler solidarity to ensure the case did not go to trial, although the magistrate who committed him for trial observed to a friend that there was "little question of the butchery or the butcher".

Although the actual details of the case were known for decades after the murders, distortions of the massacre eventually appeared in print and were embellished by local historians. The two key aspects of these later accounts were that Brown was guilty of poisoning rather than shooting the Aboriginal people, and that he had subsequently undertaken an epic horse ride to Adelaide to establish his alibi. Historians Robert Foster, Rick Hosking and Amanda Nettelbeck have concluded that this evolution of the story worked to play down the seriousness of the crime, and demonstrated that the tale had been filtered through a prism of the "pioneer legend" of the South Australian frontier.

This recording reflects the Wikipedia text as of 00:05 UTC on Monday, 3 September 2018.

For the full current version of the article, go to

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