Australian Aboriginal Heroes Of The Resistance

Australian Aboriginal Heroes Of The Resistance



Jandamarra, Aboriginal resistance hero

Jandamarra, Aboriginal resistance hero

Frontier Wars in Australia

Violent conflict on the Australian frontier started on this continent soon after the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788. From this time on, Australia experienced constant warfare on its soil – not only in the Sydney region but throughout the country. 

This continued right up to the early 1900s with the last massacre of Australia’s first people being recorded in 1928.

The seeds of war were sown when it became clear that the British who were taking over the continent were going to occupy the lands belonging to the Australian Aboriginal people.

Before the invasion by the British, Aborigines of Australia had defined territories and knew the boundaries of their traditional lands. They knew its physical features, its geography, animals, birds, fish, and plants. They looked after their lands and ritually cared for their country with ceremony, songs, stories and art.

But with the invasion and the taking over of traditional lands for farming, Australian Aboriginal cultures were almost destroyed. They fought to defend their country from the north to the south and from the east to the west.

No one state in Australia was immune from the resistance wars.

Aboriginal cultures of eastern Australia bore the full brunt of the British occupation of their lands and it was they who were the first to experience the dispossession of their cultures. 

What took place in eastern Australia was repeated throughout the continent in Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, West Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland.  There was no discussion with Aboriginal people, no treaty, and tragedy continued to unfold.


From the 1790s until his death in 1802, Pemulwuy led the Eora resistance against British occupiers of their traditional lands in the Sydney region.


Musquito’s (c.1780 – 1825) expertise as a guerrilla resistance fighter, together with his knowledge of English language and English customs, were assets to the local Laremairremener people in Tasmania who wanted to retaliate against the English aggression.


Windradyne (c.1800–1829), also known as “Saturday,” was a resistance fighter and warrior who led the guerrilla resistance against the British invasion of Wiradjuri lands in the Bathurst region of New South Wales in the 1820s.


For many years Dundalli (c.1820-1855) led the Aboriginal resistance in the Queensland Moreton Bay region to drive out the foreign intruders until he was eventually hanged in Brisbane.


The story of Yagan (c.1795-1833) is about the taking over of Aboriginal lands in Western Australia by the British colonists. Yagan was a hero of the Australian Aboriginal resistance of the Swan River.

Yagan became an iconic figure and symbol of the fight for Nyungar rights and recognition in Western Australia.


Jandamarra (c.1873-1897) was a hero of the Aboriginal resistance in the Kimberley region of Western Australia in the 1890s. He is famous for the successful resistance campaigns that took place at Windjina Gorge in 1894 and 1895.

Dundalli, Pemulwuy, Musquito, Windradyne, Yagan and Jandamarra are just a few of the Aboriginal resistance heroes, among many others, who fought and who stood up against the colonial occupiers of their traditional lands on the Australian continent.

Author: Marji Hill  First People Then And Now: Australian Aboriginal Heroes Of The Resistance