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state library of queensland
John Oxley Library

New Acquisition - Artwork depicting the "Cullin-la-ringo Massacre"

By JOL Admin | 24 February 2009

The John Oxley Library is delighted to announce the acquisition of an important historical work of art.  The painting, which recently was acquired at auction in the face of much competition, depicts the aftermath of the infamous “Cullin-la-ringo Massacre” of white settlers by Aborigines which took place on 17 October 1861 at a station located between Emerald and Springsure in Central Queensland.

The Wills Tragedy: the arrival of the neighbouring squatters and Mon collecting and burying the dead, after the attack by the blacks on H.R. Wills ESQ. Stationed Leichhardt district, Queensland October 19th 1861 by T.G. Moyle,Watercolour, 47 x 74 cms.John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland [ACC 8085]

Cullin-la-ringo was the leasehold property of Horatio Spencer Howe Wills, a former newspaper publisher and politician, who had arrived there with his large party of family, servants, and livestock only 11 days earlier, following a journey from Brisbane which had taken eight months.

Work had begun on the construction of stock yards, huts and store-rooms, and Wills and his men were resting after their midday meal, when the property was attacked in the early afternoon.

Nineteen of the twenty-five members of the party were murdered. The six survivors included overseer’s son James Baker, Wills' son Thomas Wentworth Wills, shepherds Edward Kenny and Patrick Mahoney, and stockman John Moore who managed to avoid being seen and who reported the massacre afterwards. Moore was the only surviving eyewitness to the event.


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