Artist statement, 2019
In October 1857, Aborigines attacked a sleeping homestead on the Dawson River, Queensland, and killed all the inhabitants except a young boy who was knocked unconscious and left for dead. After the raiders had gone, he escaped and raised the alarm. The subsequent white retribution, headed by William Fraser, the eldest son who had been away at the time, led to the decimation and dispersal of the Jiman people and some of their allies. As many as 300 may have died in retaliation for the deaths of eleven whites at Hornet Bank station.
The Jiman attack was largely in response to the indignities they had suffered in the ten years following white settlement in the Upper Dawson district. The taking of their lands, the deprivation of food supplies, the killing of hunting bands and the abuse of their women had become intolerable. And in 1857 the Jiman and neighbouring tribes decided to strike back with a campaign of terror beginning with a dawn raid on the isolated Hornet Bank Station. They almost succeeded.
Instead of trying to reach an accomodation with the Jiman, the whites set out to destroy them. Revenge led to counter-revenge until revenge became a tragic obsession.’
Gordon Reid, A Nest of Hornets, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1982.