From the Swan River to the Hawkesbury, and from the sticky Arnhem Land mangrove to the soft green hills of Tasmania, this book describes the major conflicts fought on the Australian frontier to 1838. Based on extensive research and using overseas frontier wars to add perspective to the Australian experience, The Australian Frontier Wars 1788–1838
will change our view of Australian history forever.
Over the last thirty years, Australians have become increasingly aware that violence accompanied the colonisation of their continent. Historians have shown that the armed conflicts between Aborigines and British settlers and soldiers, though small in scale and sporadic in nature, can truly be described as ‘wars’. However, a gap remains at the heart of our understanding of the Australian frontier: the actual warfare, and the weapons and tactics used to fight it, remain poorly understood.
The Australian Frontier Wars is the first book-length military history of frontier conflict in Australia. Covering the first fifty years of British occupation in Australia, this book examines in detail how both sides fought on the frontier. It shows how Aborigines developed a new form of warfare that differed from their traditional methods. Already expert in raids and ambush, the Aborigines now used these skills to attack the settlers' crops, stock and farmhouses. Raiding parties took goods and foodstuffs when they were useful, and destroyed them when they were not. When the terrain assisted these tactics, Aborigines were able to temporarily to stop settlers occupying their land. While the British Army arrived in Australia with the experience of frontier warfare in other parts of the Empire, it initially found it difficult to operate on the frontier. Aboriginal tactics overcame British muskets, and Aboriginal warriors evaded settlers and soldiers. However, once the British began using horses, they were able to track and attack Aboriginal groups, and gained the advantage that would bring them victory.
1. Warriors and soldiers
2. Sydney, 1788-1791
3. The Hawkesbury-Nepean River, 1795-1816
4. The Bathurst and Hunter Valley Districts, 1822-1826
5. Northern and Western Australia, 1824-1834
6. Van Diemen's Land, 1826-1831
7. The Liverpool Plains and Port Phillip Districts, 1838