Did Australian Aborigines Put Up a Fight?

It strikes me as odd, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard of any pitched battles between British settlers and Australian aborigines. Were there any such battles? Warfare between colonists and natives just about everywhere else has been thoroughly documented-- battles with the Zulu in Africa, the Maori in New Zealand, Indians in the Americas, etc. At least here in the States, though, we don’t seem to hear much about the Australian experience with the Natives. How did it go down?

I’m not an expert on this. Just sharing my australian schoolboy knowledge of the subject.

There were no major organised battles as such, however there were a few minor skirmishes. The Aborigines are a generally peaceful people, and reaction to the British landing was muted. Reports range from the first words spoken by one of Sydney’s local Eora people being “warra warra” (go away), to the British being mistaken for ancestral ghosts due to their pale skin, and being accorded a lot of respect because of that. I think the truth is somewhere in the middle, and that is that the Aborigines simply preferred to keep out of the way of the British for the most part. Bear in mind that Aboriginal society is communal, and there was little notion of ownership in our sense of the word, so there was no feeling of “newcomers taking our land”.

The indigenous population of Australia was quite small when the British arrived. 600, 000 people or so in a country nearly the size of the USA, so this had an effect on reducing conflict. Probably the biggest danger for the local people was the introduction of new, exotic European diseases for which they had no immunity. Also, the introduction of alcohol - a situation similar to the American experience.

Sadly, in later years there was a disorganised but tacitly condoned “treatment” of the native problem. This treatment usually involved groups of white farmers with guns, but we won’t mention that. We also won’t mention that there were isolated instances of this occurring up until the 1930s. :frowning:

Hope that helps.

Let’s not blame the Brits for everything. Australian settlers/police were the primary culprits.

There was a debate last night on Lateline, on this topic.
Debate rages over “peaceful” white settlement

LoadedDogs point on numbers is quite important. The Australian aboriginals were (and still are) highly dispersed, small independent groups. Units of over 200 would have been unusual outside the coastal regions. Australian aborigines didn’t seem to conduct territorial wars between themselves, hence didn’t form coalitions or an “Aboriginal Nation”. Ergo there was no chance of a Isandhlwana in Australia.

Clashes were essentially localised between a couple of settlers or at most a score of troops and aboriginal groups of 20-100 men, women and children. It was typically the usual “fair” fight between mounted whites armed with repeating rifles and natives on foot with spears.

I don’t think any of the skirmishes could be categorised as “pitched battles”, but I’m sympathetic to the view that in toto it was an unofficially condoned war of conquest.