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The mass slaughter of Aboriginal people that started at Coniston station in Central Australia in the harsh drought of 1928 became known as “the last massacre”. For some that epithet can be read as a convenient full stop on the frontier violence that raged soon after the arrival of the First Fleet.
The Warlpiri and their neighbours never saw it that way. The events of those two months left a bloody stain on their country that will never be erased. The random killing of their countrymen – officially 31 people but widely considered to be many more – is a painful enough legacy in itself, but these times were tumultuous for another reason. This period also marks the transition from a traditional way of life on their lands to the unhappy experience of government settlements.