Blackmans Point Massacre Site declared an Aboriginal Place in New South Wales

Blackmans Point, on the traditional lands of the Birpai located just north-west of Port Macquarie, has been recognised as an important massacre site and declared an Aboriginal Place by the NSW Government.

Blackmans Point, north-west of Port Macquarie

The land identified as the Blackmans Point Massacre Site Aboriginal Place is a 4-kilometre stretch of foreshore along the western bank of the Maria River through to the Hastings River junction. 

The Birpai people moved through Country depending on seasonal availability of food resources, often gathering oysters and fish. Following the European colonisation of Port Macquarie there were frequent clashes with the local Aboriginal communities, who were pushed out into the area’s fringes.

Aunty Rhonda Radley, a proud Birpai Dunghutti woman born in Port Macquarie, nominated Blackmans Point to be declared an Aboriginal Place.

“Several massacres of Aboriginal people took place in the area during this time, of which at least 3 are on record,” said Aunty Rhonda.

“One of these massacres took place at Blackmans Point around 1826. 

“It is believed that a large number of local Aboriginal people were forcibly moved to this area and then killed.”

“The rivers are considered sacred, much like our modern roadways. Guulawaa Rock, situated in the river close to Blackmans Point, is considered a marker, signifying the branch of the 2 rivers in the water,” said Aunty Rhonda. 

Acting Chair of the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Advisory Committee for NSW Paul Knight said that Aboriginal community is seeking the appropriate recognition and interpretation of the Aboriginal history of Blackmans Point and the cultural values it encompasses.

“An Aboriginal Place is an area of land that has special significance to Aboriginal people. It can have spiritual, historical, social, educational, natural resource use or other type of significance’” said Mr Knight.

“These places range from small ceremonial sites to mountains and lagoons and have been identified all over New South Wales.”

Executive Director Heritage NSW Sam Kidman said the site is representative of other massacre sites around New South Wales where atrocities have been committed against the Aboriginal population since European occupation.

“Recognising the events that happened at the Blackmans Point, as well as other massacre sites across the state, contributes to our understanding of the shared history of New South Wales,” said Mr Kidman.

“Heritage NSW has consulted with the Traditional Owners and Elders groups to discuss the proposal and to transcribe the oral histories that have been handed down over generations.”

The Aboriginal Place declaration of Blackmans Point Massacre Site recognises its special significance and gives protection under NSW legislation. Truth telling about colonial history and frontier violence in New South Wales helps to address past injustices, allowing for healing and reconciliation. 

Further information can be found on the Heritage NSW website.