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The Unknown Warriors of the Frontier Wars

You may have heard about Jandamarra, Yagan, Dundalli and Pemulwuy, but there are many other warriors that fought on the frontlines during the Frontier Wars. The lesser known warriors are just as significant as these other more famous individuals, who have had books and documentaries made about them. These unsung heroes also made the ultimate sacrifice and lost their lives protecting their Country and people from the invaders. 

Old Moppy (1787- 1842), Yaggera | Lockyer Valley

Old Moppy was a Yaggera man. He was a very tall, muscled First Nations leader from the Lockyer Valley South East Queensland. Old Moppy was the father of Multuggerah, also known as Young Moppy. Old Moppy was respected for being a resistance leader and for his tribal affiliation and connection. In the 1840s between 30 and 60 First Nations people were killed west of Caboolture with flour laced with poison. Following this event, groups from all over South East Queensland were ready to declare war on the invaders. Intertribal meetings were held and Old Moppy was instrumental in forging an alliance among the mountain tribes. Old Moppy’s authority and influence stretched across east and west Moreton and as far as the western slopes of the Main Range. Moppy was seen as a serious threat to Europeans and was killed in 1842 or 1843, however the details of his death are unclear.


Billy Barlow (1825- 1860), Gubbi Gubbi | Sunshine Coast 

In 1852 a reward notice was issued for one Billy Barlow. He was identified as being a good-looking man with a long nose and missing front tooth. He was a Gubbi Gubbi man and a resistance leader closely associated with Dundalli, another prominent resistance leader. Billy Barlow witnessed Dundalli’s hanging which took place where Post Office Square now is in Brisbane in 1855. In 1852 Barlow was described in a newspaper for spearing a shepherd. They were able to identify it was him by the markings on the spear. Barlow stayed true to his cultural obligations and participated in payback to defend First Nations people. In 1846 some young First Nations women and girls were sexually assaulted by European men. In accordance with  First Law, retribution was taken out against these men over the following years. In 1859, Billy Barlow attacked an ex-convict called Peter Glynn, who admitted under  oath in court to sexually assaulting a young First Nations girl back in 1846. Billy Barlow waited thirteen years to ambush the perpetrator on the Caboolture river. He was very precise with his tactics and waited until Glynn and another coloniser, Peter Grant, were alone in the bush. Grant was killed and Glynn badly injured. Glynn died a few months later falling into the Brisbane river while intoxicated.

Dhakiyarr Wirrpanda (1900-1934), Yolngu | Arnhem Land

Dhakiyarr was a Yolngu leader in the Northern Territory. In the 1930s a Japanese fisherman was speared and killed on Yolngu country. Police attended the scene to investigate what happened. During these investigations, police came across some First Nations women and put them in chains.  days. One of the women was the wife of Dhakiyarr. She spotted him in the distance and called out to tell him what was happening. Dhakiyarr retaliated by throwing a spear from 40- 50 metres away, hitting an officer in the chest and killing him. The other policemen returned to Darwin and immediately started to plan a war party to go and massacre Yolngu people. The Australian Government in Canberra supported this plan and shipped more ammunition and guns to Darwin to carry out the massacre. Activists in Darwin heard about what was happening. The activists created a campaign against this punitive expedition and were successful in stopping the massacre taking place. Dhakiyarr was locked up for a period of time but upon his release he went missing and was never found again.

Eulope (1800-1850 approx) | Stradbroke Island

“In the 1820’s conflict started to occur on North Stradbroke Island due to how the settlers were treating Aboriginal women. The settlers wanted to take more control and to do so they used other Aboriginal people. A white pilot made two Aboriginal men force a respected Aboriginal leader from the Pulan Pulan area onto a boat and took him out onto the water. The whole tribe watched as the respected Aboriginal leader was decapitated and castrated in front of them by the white pilot. A young Aboriginal man, Eulope rose up against these horrors. Eulope hunted down both Aboriginal men that assisted the pilot and killed them as pay back for what they had done. He also confronted a storehouse on the island with a band of warriors. One of the soldiers threatened to punch Eulope and Eulope raised his spear and said, “You do that on my country, and I will kill you.” The settlers had to build large walls around the storehouses as the attacks were so frequent.” - Uncle Dale Ruska

Top image: Source - Australian War Memorial
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