Cape Grim Massacre

The massacre took place just north of the present day Cape Grim, adjacent to two small islands called the Doughboys. It was a result of violence initiated by the Van Diemen's Land Company.

In December 1827, Aborigines were killed while protecting their women from molestation by company shepherds.1 Aborigines responded by destroying 118 sheep, triggering a company punitive expedition in early February 1828 that killed twelve Aborigines.2 On 10 February 1828, thirty Aborigines3 died in the Cape Grim massacre.4 Shepherds shot Aboriginal hunters on the high ground and then threw their bodies down upon the rocks after firing upon their families camped on the beach. Curr, the responsible Magistrate, disputed the figures, initiated no investigation into the incident, and did not report the matter to Lieutenant-Governor Arthur. (See also 'Frontier Conflict'.)

Further reading: G Lennox, The Van Diemen's Land Company and the Tasmanian Aborigines, Sandy Bay, 1990; I McFarlane ,'Cape Grim', in R Manne (ed), Whitewash, Melbourne, 2003.

Ian McFarlane

1. Inward Despatch No.1. Curr to Directors. 2 January 1828. AOT VDL 5/1.
2. R Hare, The Voyage of the Caroline from England to Van Diemen's Land and Batavia, edited Ida Lee, London, 1927, p 41.
3. NJB Plomley, Friendly Mission. Hobart, 1966, pp 175, 181, 196; see also Letter from Goldie to Arthur, 18th November 1829, AOT CSO 1/33/7578, pp 116-117.
4. Inward Despatch No.150. Curr to Directors. 7 October 1830. AOT VDL 5/3.