The Black War: Genocide of Indigenous Australians

"The Black War: The Brutal Conflict Between European Settlers and Indigenous Tasmanians in Australia's Dark History"


The Black War was a period of violent conflict between European settlers and Indigenous Tasmanians that took place in Tasmania, Australia, from 1824 to 1832. This conflict was characterized by brutal violence, including massacres, murders, and forced removals of Indigenous Tasmanians from their land. The Black War was a result of colonial expansion, as the British Empire sought to claim more land and resources in Australia.


The Indigenous Tasmanians were a hunting and gathering society with a deep spiritual connection to the land. When European settlers arrived in the early 1800s, they brought with them diseases that Indigenous Tasmanians had no immunity to, leading to widespread sickness and death. Additionally, the settlers took over large tracts of land for farming and grazing, leading to the displacement of Indigenous Tasmanians from their traditional hunting grounds.

The Bounties for Indigenous Tasmanian Scalps

Tensions between settlers and Indigenous Tasmanians came to a head in 1824, when the colonial government offered a bounty for Indigenous Tasmanian scalps. This led to a series of brutal massacres of Indigenous Tasmanians, including the Cape Grim Massacre in 1828, where settlers killed up to 30 Indigenous Tasmanians in a single attack.

The Indigenous Tasmanian Resistance

In response to the violence, Indigenous Tasmanians began to fight back against the settlers, launching raids on farms and attacking settlers. The colonial government responded by declaring martial law in 1828 and sending in military forces to suppress the uprising. The conflict escalated, and by 1830, the Black War was in full swing.

“The Black War: Australia’s Shameful Legacy of Violence and Dispossession Against Indigenous Tasmanians”

The Tactics Used by Indigenous Tasmanians

The Black War was characterized by guerilla warfare, with Indigenous Tasmanians using hit-and-run tactics to harass settlers and their livestock. Settlers responded with overwhelming force, using guns, dogs, and fire to kill Indigenous Tasmanians and destroy their camps. Indigenous Tasmanians were often driven from their land and forced to flee to the wilderness to avoid violence and persecution.

The End of the Black War

The Black War came to an end in 1832, with the capture of the last Indigenous Tasmanian woman, Truganini. The surviving Indigenous Tasmanians were rounded up and sent to missions and reserves, where many died from disease, malnutrition, and mistreatment. By the 1870s, only a handful of Indigenous Tasmanians remained, and the Tasmanian Aboriginal people were declared extinct in 1876.

The Legacy of the Black War

The legacy of the Black War is a painful and traumatic one, with Indigenous Tasmanians suffering the loss of their land, culture, and people. Today, efforts are underway to acknowledge and address this history, including official apologies from the Australian government and efforts to support Indigenous-led initiatives for healing and reconciliation. The Black War serves as a reminder of the devastating impact of colonialism and the importance of recognizing and respecting the rights and cultures of Indigenous peoples.

How many Aboriginals were massacred in Tasmania?

When Europeans took them to Tasmania and shot them all At the outset, in 1823, an estimated 2,000 Aborigines were in the war zone. By 1831, an estimated 448 at least, had been killed by the colonists, or 22% of the population, and an estimated 413 had lost their lives in 27 known multiple killings of five or more.

What was the largest Aboriginal genocide?

On 26 January 1838 Nunn and his men massacred up to 50 Aboriginal people camped at Waterloo Creek. They also encouraged nearby stockmen and settlers to murder any Aboriginal person they came across.

How did the British treat Aboriginal peoples in Australia?

The English settlers and their descendants expropriated native land and removed the indigenous people by cutting them from their food resources and engaged in genocidal massacres.


The Black War was a dark chapter in Australia’s history, characterized by violence, displacement, and trauma. The conflict between European settlers and Indigenous Tasmanians was driven by colonialism, racism, and a desire for land and resources. The legacy of this violence and dispossession continues to affect Indigenous communities in Tasmania and across Australia today. It is important that we acknowledge this history and work towards healing and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

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