- Number of settlers, police and soldiers who died in colonial conflict .
- Number of Aboriginal people who died in colonial conflict .
List of linked articles
Massacres: The frontier violence that’s hard to accept
Hundreds of massacres left thousands of Aboriginal people dead, a history many Australians struggle to accept. A brave few started documenting what happened.
Australia has a history of Aboriginal slavery
Australia’s slavery started because other countries abolished it. Aboriginal people were blackbirded and used in the pearling, sugar cane and cattle industries. They suffered terrible abuse and were denied their wages.
NAIDOC Week is held in the first full week of July and is a time to celebrate Aboriginal history, culture and achievements.
How old is Aboriginal culture?
The age of Aboriginal culture changes with new research. Some researchers claim 400,000 years.
Maralinga: How British nuclear tests changed history forever
In the 1950s the Australian government authorised British nuclear tests on Anangu country with fatal consequences.
It paid compensation for contaminated land, but never for the people affected.
Aboriginal war memorials
Australia has thousands of war memorials, dozens in the big cities. But where are the war memorials commemorating Aboriginal Diggers?
Aboriginal Tent Embassy, Canberra
Aboriginal people erected the Tent Embassy in 1972 in Canberra to protest against a court decision over mining operations on Aboriginal land.
Many struggles and battles later, the Embassy has become a heritage-listed landmark for Aboriginal protest.
Australia Day - Invasion Day
Most Australians celebrate Australia Day as the day Australia was founded. In contrast, Aboriginal people mourn their history and call it ‘Invasion Day’.
Myall Creek Massacre (1838)
In 1838 white settlers murdered 28 Aboriginal men, women and children near Myall Creek Station. The massacre is a harrowing reminder of Australia’s colonial violence and one of the rare cases where killers were tried and hanged.
Anzac Day Coloured Digger march
In Australia the ‘ANZACs’ have hero status and Anzac Day is a day of many commemorations where Australia’s ex-servicemen and servicewomen march the streets.
But many don’t know about Australia’s Aboriginal war veterans and the Coloured Diggers march which started in 2007.
Aboriginal calendar of significant events
When you look at significant events for Aboriginal people you’ll notice that these document their fight for rights, land and recognition. It is also a history of sadness, loss and denial.
Australian 1967 Referendum
The 1967 referendum made history: Australians voted overwhelmingly to amend the constitution to include Aboriginal people in the census and allow the Commonwealth to create laws for them.
Australian Aboriginal history timeline
Australian Aboriginal history is the only history that grows both ways—forward into the present and backwards into the past as new scientific methods indicate that archaeological sites are much older than originally thought.
List of short articles
Crosswords: Test your history knowledge!
Where is Aboriginal history?
“Australian history started with Captain Cook,” is what a lot of people, even today, tell me when asked what they learned at school. Secondary history books, published just a few years back, sometimes brush over Indigenous history in twelve pages only.
Until we get it right with the teaching of Aboriginal history, then I don't think that we can pretend to be Australians together.—Dr Jackie Huggins, Indigenous educator, author and activist 
In the 1950s Aboriginal history was virtually absent from school curricula. Historian Henry Reynolds remembers well how he learned about the frontier violence from students—not books.
“The extraordinary thing was that as I became every day aware of the whole question of Indigenous Australians… there was nothing in the book. I mean, the Aborigine didn’t even make the index. They weren’t in the history.” 
When I studied history at the ANU in the 1970s there was still a widely held view, and I think it was the conventional view, that there was no Aboriginal history.—Marcia Langton, Aboriginal author 
According to Reynolds, the Australian public only became aware of frontier violence and the censorship of Australian history in the late 1960s with the Boyer lectures of anthropologist Bill Stanner, titled After the Dreaming .
There is the truism, ‘Australia’s history is never read, the black man keeps it in his head.’ White Australians ensured it remained there.—John Pilger, journalist and author 
What does “black-armband” mean?
“Black armband” is a term coined by the Australian historian Geoffrey Blainey and later used by the former prime minister John Howard.
Critics use it to refer to a desire to place undue emphasis on unsavoury and violent aspects of Australian history at the expense of the positives of European settlement .
How many Aboriginal nations existed prior invasion?
We probably will never know for sure. Some estimate that between 500 and 600 nations existed prior to invasion .
The last mission in New South Wales
In July 2010 Warangesda Mission and Station received heritage listing. The station, just outside Darlington Point in the Riverina District of New South Wales, is located about 630 kms south-west of Sydney.
Warangesda Mission is the only mission left in NSW that still has a suite of original buildings. The heritage area includes the mission block and cemetery .
Warangesda is the last known location of an initiation ceremony for the local Aboriginal population and the site of a strike in 1883. At its peak it was home to more than 200 Aboriginal people.
Tip The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) highlights almost 60 years of life on missions and reserves in their online exhibition Remembering the Mission Days. Digitised copies of two magazines published by the Aborigines Inland Missions of Australia reveal the hidden histories of the lives of thousands of Aboriginal people.
Was Australia invaded or colonised?
Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people have different views whether Australia was ‘invaded’, ‘settled’, ‘occupied’, ‘discovered’ or ‘colonised’.
While most Australians are proud of the history of the Anzacs, i.e. the invasion of Turkey at the behest of the British, they are very reluctant to acknowledge the British invasion of Australia .
But this view is slowly changing.
In 2011 the City of Sydney officially declared the settlement of Australia an invasion. The word was to be included in the Aboriginal statement for the council’s 10 year corporate plan. But a poll of more than 2,000 readers of the Daily Telegraph found that less than 15% agreed with the council’s decision. More than 85% rejected it .
In March 2016 the University of New South Wales rewrote the guidelines in their Diversity Toolkit. The new guidelines liberally use the term ‘invasion’ and recommend using “Indigenous (Australian) history, Pre-invasion history, Invasion history” or “Post-invasion history” when referring to Australian history. It goes on to say that “Australia was not settled peacefully, it was invaded, occupied and colonised. Describing the arrival of the Europeans as a ‘settlement’ attempts to view Australian history from the shores of England rather than the shores of Australia.” 
The changes led to some passionate debate, especially after the Daily Telegraph ran an outraged front page slamming the guide as a ‘whitewashing’ and rewriting of Australia’s history. Conservative commentators, such as radio host Alan Jones, slammed the guidelines. “I think this is exactly what John Howard was talking about when he talked about the black armband view of history,” Mr Jones said. 
But there was also powerful support. Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said that “for many years, Australian schools and Australian institutions have not told the truth about the way in which Australia was settled. A lot of Indigenous people lost their lives — there were massacres and the truth always must be told.” 
To be continued…
We must now assert in the strongest possible way the message that Australia was indeed invaded by a military force under the control of the British Admiralty.—Michael Ghillar Anderson, Aboriginal elder 
Australia was not settled by the common law but by the rules and disciplines of war.—Wadjularbinna Nullyarimma, Gungalidda Elder 
The settlement of the British was not peaceful, and is increasingly accepted as being a countrywide invasion.—Information leaflet, NSW Department of Indigenous Affairs 
We were invaded. It is the truth and shouldn't be watered down.—Paul Morris, head of the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council, Sydney 
In respect to the Aboriginal community, ["invasion"] is something that is very important and needs to be used.—Lord Mayor Clover Moore, Sydney 
While we restore old monuments and construct new ones to commemorate military conflict overseas, there are still no official memorials to those who died on the frontier [of Australia's Aboriginal wars].—Henry Reynolds, Marilyn Lake 
Aboriginal history resources
Praised as “one of the key general texts about Aboriginal people” this history book takes on the Aboriginal perspective—a rare treat. The 4th edition of “Aboriginal Australians” includes events up to the 2008 apology to the Stolen Generations.
If you want to read about Aboriginal history from the 1850s to the mid-1980s I can highly recommend Rosalind Kidd’s book “The Way We Civilise”.
To my mind it’s Australia’s missing history book on Indigenous history.
Aboriginal Victorians tells the story of the impact of European ideas, guns and a pastoral economy on kinship, trade and cultures of the Aboriginal peoples of Victoria.
Explore the online collection of the State Library of NSW which has a separate section on Aboriginal history.
A very good resource is the Aboriginal-owned website The Koori History Project which has articles, cartoons and videos about significant historic events.
Native American history mirrors Australia’s
It is fascinating how similar history is in these two different countries.
Australia and the United States share a history of white supremacy. Both were founded as invading settler colonies whose existence depended on driving indigenous peoples from their lands. Both denied political and economic rights to indigenous people, whose labor was exploited. And both countries adopted restrictive immigration laws to keep their national complexions white. And in both countries non-indigenous people continue to offend by using blackface to make themselves look indigenous.
|Main direction of invasion across the continent.||East to west||East to west|
|Indigenous peoples resist invasion.||Black Wars||Trail of Tears|
|Children are taken away and abused.||Stolen Generations||Residential Schools|
|An illness devastates the indigenous peoples.||Smallpox||Measles (said to have killed more Native Americans than the army)|
|Attempt to assimilate indigenous people.||In missions||In reservations|
|Indigenous people become citizens of their own land.||1967||1924|
|The first census that counts indigenous people.||1971||1870|
|The first census that counts indigenous people.||1971||1870|
|Slavery and exploitation.||In denial||Uncomfortably aware of its slavery history|
If you know another similarity, please let me know!