National Reconciliation Week: Remembering Oombulgurri

Our final instalment for National Reconciliation week 2022 – please read Ciaran O’Mahony’s investigation into the tragic closure of the remote Indigenous community of Oombulgurri.

‘A very tragic history’: how the trauma of a 1926 massacre echoes through the years

Ciaran O’Mahony

Located on the banks of east Kimberley’s Forrest River, with a scenic cliff face at its entrance, Oombulgurri boasts rare natural beauty. Few would believe this peaceful, isolated spot – only accessible by boat – has experienced so much trauma, and so recently.

Until 1969 Oombulgurri was a punitive Anglican mission called Forrest River. In 1926 tensions between Aboriginal people on the mission and residents of the nearby Nulla Nulla station, on their ancestral lands, came to a bloody head.

Some of them returned to the station and speared some cattle. Then Nulla Nulla’s co-owner Frederick Hay was murdered by an Aboriginal man named Lumbia, for the rape of his wife, Anguloo.

Police constables Graham St Jack and Denis Regan led a posse of 13 police and local white people to find Hay’s killer, taking along an arsenal of Winchester rifles, 500 to 600 rounds of ammunition, 42 horses and shotguns. They inflicted ruthless reprisal attacks on Aboriginal men, women and children at Forrest River.

You can read the rest of this article here.

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