Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Massacre

I recently read a piece in Fairfax Press about what was, up until Port Arthur, the worst massacre in Australia. I am sure that is what the article said. I asked around the family table if anyone knew which was the worst massacre before Port Arthur and no one knew. Sister piped in with the Myall Creek massacre, which stopped me briefly. I didn't know how many were killed at Myall Creek, but this was not the answer I read.

At Myall Creek, 'brave' convict settlers and a freeman killed 28 Aborigines, mostly women and children, in 1838. To the administration's credit, justice was pursued but after a trial, all were found not guilty, in spite of the Justice directing that there was no difference between killing an Aborigine and killing a white person. Before they were released another charge was laid against them and at this trial, seven were found guilty and were hanged.

Australia's worst massacre in the twentieth century was at Port Arthur in Tasmania where 35 were killed by Martin Bryant.

But the one suggested as the worst before Port Arthur in the article I read was the Whisky Au Go Go fire bombing in Brisbane's Fortitude Valley where 15 were killed. I have a vague memory of it. There were a couple of drums of fuel oil ignited in the foyer of the nightclub and the fireball shot upstairs. The fire escape door handle and the fire escape stairs had been greased. Of the 100 in the club, many escaped by jumping from windows. Among those killed were a couple of band members and their extra vocalist.

Photo of the burnt out Whisky Au Go Go from Brisbane Times online.

10 comments:

  1. My opinion of Port Arthur at the time was that the dealer who sold the weapons to an obviously disturbed boy, should also have been up on charges, and wherever he is right now I hope he is in terrible pain. Anyone who goes to the site should study Margaret Scott's very brilliant poem on the plaque where the cafe was.
    In third place we have the Milperra bikie massacre. 43 people were charged with 7 deaths.

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  2. Take your pick of massacres here they range in far greater number but they are not white, so don't garner as much print space ;)

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  3. Anonymous4:16 pm

    There are verbal accounts that date back to the 1840's where the Wautharong people of the Werribee region (then known as 'Weariby Yallock' - yallock meaning stream) were tricked into trading parcels of land over to the white settlers in turn for food and live stock. Only, after some time, the settlers did not hold their end of the bargain and were not happy to continue giving flour and other produce in turn for the use of the land, so they laced the produce with arsenic. Up to 150 people perished along the Werribee River, just near where the golf course is now.
    The story tells that there was much pain and suffering that could be heard on that night. I do not think it can be found written anywhere, but at the gathering place it is known in tongue. Very sad.
    Cazzie

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  4. Em Stacks, I assume he really did know Bryant was disturbed. M Scott has died now I think. She was great. Yes I did read the poem when we were there.

    Cazzie and Jayne, I had a feeling that there would be many, some well known and some not. These were not things I learnt about at school.

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  5. Anonymous10:13 pm

    More recently, well last 20 years or so, that I was adult enough to realise its close to home were the Queen st massacre and Hoddle st shootings/massacre.

    scary enough to know that at the time of the queen st one I was working down the road from it.

    as you say Andrew probably heaps that are forgotten


    Michelle

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  6. Michelle, I am not sure of the time gap between Hoddle Street and Queen Street, but it seemed like these things were something we were going to have to get used to. Thankfully they weren't.

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  7. Martin Bryant was said to have had an IQ of well below normal - disturbed or not - it was like selling guns to a child...and the gun seller would have seen that -
    I think there is a bit more about that story which has not come out - I only wish he had had to go to trial so the truth came out as it was there was no trial - he plead guilty and that was that.

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  8. I agree MC, there is a lot we never found out.

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  9. Too many of us have an opinion on subjects we know very little about, pollies are top of this list. Hence, decisions are made by politicians that effect the masses and change policy without fixing the root of the problem. Martin Bryant was a scapegoat. Guns are not the issue nor are the law abiding gun owners. Unstable people are the killers and guns, knives, bare hands, bricks, rope and anything that is available are only tools used for the purpose.

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  10. Thanks for your comment. Yes, unstable people, drunk people, drugged people, angry people, hurt people, in fact rather a lot of people. Farmers and professional hunters, especially those who remove feral animals, have tightly defined right to a gun. Due to the ability of a gun to take many lives quickly, no one else should have the right. Btw, I don't think Bryant was a scapegoat, more like a mass murderer.

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