Plans progressing to establish a memorial to remember Waterloo Creek massacre

MASSACRE: This drawing, 'Mounted Police and Blacks', by Godfrey Charles Mundy depicts the killing of Aboriginal people by British troops at Slaughterhouse Creek on January 26, 1838.
MASSACRE: This drawing, 'Mounted Police and Blacks', by Godfrey Charles Mundy depicts the killing of Aboriginal people by British troops at Slaughterhouse Creek on January 26, 1838.

Talks of developing a memorial to acknowledge the tragic Waterloo Creek massacre are progressing, with plans for a field trip to the site next month.

For a number of months now, Moree Plains Shire Council staff have been meeting with members of the Waterloo Creek Memorial Committee about establishing a memorial to remember the 1838 massacre in which up to 300 Aboriginal people were killed by police.

At the most recent meeting last week, council staff and committee members decided to organise a field trip to the massacre site at Waterloo Creek.

The field trip is set for Friday, July 14 and will involve assessing the Waterloo Creek site to establish the most appropriate place to erect a memorial plaque, as well as establishing what is already known about the massacre.

Other relevant bodies, such as North West Local Land Services, Local Aboriginal Lands Councils and Narrabri Shire Council will be brought along to ensure a collaborative approach.

“North West Local Lands Services have already done some great work on this project, including site identification and preservation, so the group is very keen to learn from them and work together,” Moree Plains Shire Council’s director of planning and community development Angus Witherby said.

“It will bring all members of the group up to speed on what has been done and then we can work out what next. It’s all part of the process of information gathering and over the next few months we’ll hopefully get a much deeper understanding of what happened and the consequences for local people.”

Sometime in the next few months, following on from the site field trip, a public meeting will be held in Bellata for anyone in the Moree and Narrabri shires interested in the memorial and those who may have knowledge or information about the massacre.

Mr Witherby said once community feedback is gained from the public meeting, he hopes a clearer idea of the best way forward will emerge to get the memorial underway.

“There seems to be a strong appetite to move this along quickly- a memorial is long overdue,” he said.

“There is work to do on the type of memorial that would be most appropriate and then an idea of timeframes and costs can be understood.”

The Memorandum of Understanding between council and the Waterloo Creek Memorial Committee is expected to be formally signed at their next meeting.

Council is also still working with the committee on a brochure which they plan to distribute, calling for people to come forward with oral history stories passed down from the generations about what happened at Waterloo Creek.

Mr Witherby said he is pleased to see progress is being made.

“Council is committed to reconciliation, and an appropriate memorial to this terrible event will be a very positive thing for all of our community,” he said.

If you are a descendant of the perpetrators or victims of the Waterloo Creek massacre, or have any information about what happened, contact Angus Witherby at Moree Plains Shire Council on 6757 3222.

The Gamilaraay 500?

Moree Plains Shire Council is collecting personal stories that have been passed down through the generations about what happened at Waterloo Creek on January 26, 1838.

One descendant of the Winagay mob killed at Slaughterhouse Creek is Paul Spearim, who has been a driving force behind establishing a memorial at Waterloo Creek.

Below is Paul's account of what happened, based on what his father, uncles and aunties (direct descendants of the mob who were massacred) told him. 

Before Major James Nunn set out on his evil killing spree in my sacred Gamilaraay lands, it was under the command of the acting Lieutenant, Governor of New South Wales Colonel Kenneth Snodgrass that he gave orders to Major James Nunn, a bloodthirsty cruel officer of the crown, to purposely eradicate and 'fix the black problem' of the time.  

Over several weeks as he was heading up Mount Kaputar he heard loud roars and thought it was thunder. 

When he kept looking up he could see all these flickering lights and thought it was lightning and then the sky turning dark, which he thought were rain clouds. 

When he and his men had reached the top of Mt Kaputar and looked out over the land he could not believe what lay before him. 

The loud roar that he thought was thunder was the Gamilaraay 500 plus who were being led as always by our brave Gamilaraay women banging on their shields and possum skin drums.

He and his men could also see that the flickering lights that they thought was lightning was the many fires still burning through the night.

What he thought were rain clouds was nothing more than the 500 plus proud strong Gamilaraay warriors and our women dancing and all singing in unison the mighty fighting dance with dust flying high over their heads.

After witnessing this Major Nunn and his men took off back to Singleton.

Then several weeks had passed and our mob began thinking that this evil man was not coming back into our sacred lands. 

So the Gamilaraay 500 plus had all dispersed and went back to their clan areas.

But then this evil man came back several months later with more troopers and committed genocide on our then small band of unsuspecting proud brave warriors, beautiful strong women and children and this is what is now known as Slaughterhouse Creek.

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