§’The ability to shock bestows a kind of power’. Frances Larson, Severed, Granta, London, 2014

Captain Arthur Phillip RN to Marine Captain Watkin Tench; ‘Infuse universal terror…put ten [10] to death…cut off, and bring back the heads of the slain’.

1790 – 13 December, Sydney Headquarters:  General Orders – Governor Arthur Phillip RN to Marine Captain Watkin Tench’ ‘put to death ten [10] cut off and bring back the heads of the slain…two [2] prisoners I [Phillip] am resolved to execute the prisoners who may be brought in, in the most public and exemplary manner, in the presence of as many of their countrymen as can be collected…

and my fixed determination to repeat it, whenever any future breach of good conduct on their side, shall render it necessary’.  Governor Phillip, cited Captain Watkin Tench, Sydney’s First Four Year, ed. F.L. Fitzhardinge, Angus and Robertson, 1961

‘Any future breach of good conduct on their side’ – Australia’s First Nations’ Peoples can, with laser accuracy, plot their near annihilation from Governor Arthur Phillip’s General Orders of the 13th of December 1790.

‘Military and police raids against dissenting Aboriginal groups lasted from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries. These raids had commenced by December 1790’. Professor Bruce Kercher, History of Law in Australia, Allen and Unwin, 1995

From where lay the threat to Governor Phillip in December 1790? Certainly not with the Bidjigal of Botany Bay.

Why? The previous year (1789) smallpox had killed 50% of Sydney’s Aborigines leaving the survivors struggling to regroup. See: Smallpox – A Lethal Weapon Boston 1775, Sydney 1789 – Robert Ross and David Collins

‘For the Sydney people to lose 50% or more of their military capability in a few weeks was a crushing blow’. Stephen Gapps, The Sydney Wars, NewSouth Books, 2018

If not the Bidjigal who was Phillip’s ‘enemy’? See: A Clash of Giants – Arthur Phillip & John Macarthur – The Great Pretender

1790 – Botany Bay:  ‘On the 9th of the month [December] a sergeant of marines, with three convicts…went out on a shooting party…to the north arm of Botany Bay…among them M’Entire, the governor’s game-keeper (the convict of whom Bannelon had, on former occasions, shewn so much dread and hatred)’. Tench. ibid. See: Kidnapped – Manly – What’s in a Name

10 December: At 1 am; ‘the serjeant was awakened by a rustling noise in the bushes’.  An Aboriginal warrior identified as Pemulwuy speared John Mc Intyre.

The wounded convict ‘expressed a longing desire not to be left to expire in the woods’. See: John McIntyre – A Tethered Goat

12 December, Sydney: Tench says the shooting party, with McInyre in tow, reached Sydney in the early hours of 12 December 1790.

13 December, Headquarters: ‘I [Tench] received a direction to attend the governor at head quarters immediately’ where Governor Phillip issued  orders ‘instil universal terror’.


‘The warrior skilled at stirring the enemy proffers the bait’. Sun-Tzu, The Art of War, Penguin Books, 2009 

Pemulwuy’s spearing of John Mc Intyre was a targeted attack by a known assailant. ‘Put ten [10] to death’ destroying both innocent and guilty was indiscriminate punishment. See: Mc Intyre – Death of a Sure Thing

Tench registered shock; ‘here the governor stopped, and addressed himself to me said, if I could propose any alternation of the orders under which I was to act’.

Tench proposed; ‘capture six [6]…a part should be set aside for retaliation; and the rest, at a proper time, liberated, after seeing the fate of their comrades. This scheme, his excellency was pleased instantly to adopt, adding, if six [6] cannot be taken, let this number [6] be shot’.

13 December: Tench ordered his troops; ‘be ready to go out tomorrow morning at daylight [14th] with three [3] days provisions, ropes to bind our prisoners with and hatchets and bags, to cut off and contain the heads of the slain’.  See: A Hatchet Job – Heads Off The Bidjigal of Botany Bay

The detachment consisted of fifty (50) men – two (2) officers with the regulation ratio of non-commissioned to forty (40) private soldiers. By December 1790 marines of the ‘troubled’ Sydney garrison were incapable of sustained effort.


‘The main battle was about having enough to eat’. Don Watson, Story of Australia, 1984

For Australia’s First Peoples the make-up of this detachment is of utmost importance.

All of ‘Phillip’s people’ had been marooned since 1788. See: Abandoned and Left To Starve at Sydney Cove January 1788 to June 1790.

By 1790 the marines suffered profound lethargy from prolonged semi-starvation. Most could barely stand let alone undertake a three (3) days march over a rough track in full kit under a blazing December sun.

Botany  Bay -14 December:  So it is certain, when the section moved out for Botany Bay on the 14th of December 1790, the majority of its forty (40) rank and file would have been foot soldiers. Infantrymen of the New South Wales Corps who, in June 1790, arrived from England to relieve the beleaguered garrison marines. See: Dark Matter


Sydney – 17 December: Tench’s detachment returned to  Sydney on the 17th of December without heads or prisoners.

21 December: Phillip ordered a second raid.  ‘The orders which I [Tench] was commanded to act differing in no respect from the last’. Phillip’s orders – rules of engagementdemonstrate clear intention to ‘instil universal terror’.

There is no evidence Governor Phillip’s General Orders of December 1790 ‘convince them of our superiority…instil universal terror’ were ever countermanded.

Twenty-five regiments of British infantry, they participated in the great struggle at the heart of the European conquest of this continent’. Dr Peter Stanley, The Remote Garrison, The British Army in Australia 1788-1870, Kangaroo Press, 1986

Extant, they served as a template that went onto govern all future confrontations between Australia’s First Nations’ Peoples and ‘twenty-five regiments of British infantry’.


‘There are two kinds of error; those of commission, doing something that should not be done, and those of omission, not doing something that should be done, the latter are much more serious than the former’. Kenneth Hoper and William Hopper, The Puritan Gift, Forward, Russell Lincoln Ackoff, I.B. Tauris, 2009.

1792 – England: Governor Phillip departed Sydney for home in mid December 1792. Tragically for the First Australians London failed to commission a successor. Captain John Hunter RN, the second naval governor, would not reach Sydney until September 1795.

‘For the length of the interregnum [1792-1795] the British government was greatly at fault’. J.J. Achmuty, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Governor John Hunter.

‘Omission’ by default the immense power invested in Captain Arthur Phillip as Governor of New South Wales, said to be unique in Britain’s long history of empire building, devolved to the military.

‘The traffic in spirits was commenced by the [infantry] officers and was destined to be the chief factor which savaged the undercurrent of public life for twenty-five years after the departure of Governor Phillip’. Commentary, Historical Records of Australia.


1792 – Sydney, 13 December: The day following Phillip’s departure Major Francis Grose commanding officer of the New South Wales Corps took absolute military control of the colony. He dismissed all civil magistrates appointed by Governor Phillip in accord with the Letters Patent.

Grose, wounded in the American War of Independence 1775-1783, proved a lackadaisical commander. He appointed Lieutenant John Macarthur regimental paymaster.

‘The control of labour was largely vested in his [Grose’s] new regimental pay-master, Lieutenant John Macarthur – a central figure in the military mafia which quickly established itself as Australia’s first governing and property-owing elite’. Arthur Phillip, Gentleman, Scholar and Seaman, Dr. Nigel Rigby, Maritime Museum, Greenwich, Dr. Pieter Van der Merwe, British National Maritime Museum, Prof. Emeritius History, Queen Mary, University of London, Bloomsbury, Adlard Coles, London, 2018

For the next twenty-five (25) years a ‘frontier war, nasty and decidedly lacking in glory centred on Aboriginal river lands, the Deerrubin – Hawkesbury, Nepean and Grose River systems.

England  -1794: Major Grose returned to England at the end of 1794. He was succeeded by Captain William Paterson, yet another physically and emotionally damaged ‘three bottles a day’ veteran of America’s Revolutionary War.

Hawkesbury River: By then – 1794 – over four hundred (400) settlers had fenced off acreage and were farming Dharug land. See: Cape York to South Cape – Your Land is My Land

‘Thirty miles along the banks on both sides of the [Hawkesbury] River it has been estimated that between 1794 and 1800 at least twenty-six [26] Whites and up to two hundred [200] Aborigines were killed’. Stanley. ibid.


Hawkesbury – 1795:  In June 1795 while Governor Hunter was still on the high seas Paterson; ‘sent a detachment of two [2] subalterns and sixty [60] privates of the New South Wales to the river…to destroy as many as they could…as well to drive the natives to a distance, as for the protections of the settlers.

‘It gives me concern’ Paterson wrote in dispatches ‘to have been forced to destroy any of these people, particularly as I have no doubt of their having been cruelly treated by some of the settlers who went out there’. Captain William Paterson to Right Hon. Henry Dundas, 15 June 1795, Historical Records of Australia. See: A Worm Hole – Richard Atkins Diary

The troops Paterson deployed to the Hawkesbury saw limited skirmishes escalate to ‘open warfare’ accelerating destruction of the Dharug whose spears, guts, and guile could not match the increased fire-power.

Sydney – 1795, September: Governor John Hunter RN reached Sydney in late September 1795. Hunter, despite spirited antagonism directed at him by Lieutenant Macarthur, managed to restore what passed for ‘English civil law’ in New South Wales.

1799: Four (4) years later, March 1799, Hunter ordered ‘five [5] European] men changed with the murder of two [2] native boys’. Lieutenant Neil MacKellar, in command at the Hawkesbury from 1797 to 1799, was called to give evidence.

‘Under questioning he stated that the orders issued [1795] for the destruction of Aboriginals whenever encountered, after they had committed outrages, had not been countermanded during his command at the Hawkesbury nor to his knowledge since’. Neill Mackellar, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Brigadier M. Austin

Whitehall – 1799:  While the trial of the five (5) men was in progress in Sydney Hunter was informed of his recall to England. The reasons given were twofold. Firstly he had failed to stop the importation of ‘fiery Indian rum’ from Bengal. See: Down the Rabbit Hole with Hunter

‘The traffic in spirits was commenced by the [ infantry] officers and was destined to be the chief factor which savaged the undercurrent of public life for twenty-five years after the departure of Governor Phillip’. Commentary, Historical Records. ibid.

Secondly Hunter, hero of the ‘First Fleet’ was disgusted with the military thugs of the New South Wales ‘Rum’ Corps who instigated and ran the rum trade.

Especially teetotaller John Macarthur the prime mover in the importation of rum from Bengal. See: Proximity Not Distance Drove Britain’s Invasion of New Holland.

Rum bought rum cheaply, sold at an exorbitant mark-up, generated immense profits for certain officers of the ‘Rum’ Corps and their cronies. Then, when the ex-cons who drank their rum went broke, officers of the ‘military mafia’ were on hand to sell them up and turf them out.

‘From 1788 there had been continuous disputation between the civil power represented by the autocratic uniformed naval governors and the military’. John McMahon, Not a Rum Rebellion but a Military Insurrection, Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. 92, 2006


Lieutenant John ‘McMafia’ Macarthur was the common denominator in the recall to London of Governor Phillip’s immediate successors, the naval Governors, Captain John Hunter, Lieutenant Phillip Gidley King and Captain William ‘Bounty’ Bligh.

1800 – 1806:  Governor Hunter was replaced by Lieutenant Phillip Gidley King RN who, like Hunter, was a First Fleeter returning to Australia. See: The Irish & the English King in Australia.

1806 – August: Governor William Bligh RN arrived in Sydney with orders for Governor Gidley King’s recall to England. See: Down The Rabbit Hole with King

However when ‘Bounty’ Bligh made strenuous effort to stem the tsunami of grog he too found himself under vicious attack from John Macarthur.

1808 – Sydney – 26 January: On the 20th anniversary of Captain Arthur Phillip’s raising of the Union Jack in Sydney Cove Governor Bligh was seized and imprisoned by officers of the New South Wales Corps. See: Australia Day Rebellion – Australia Day 1808


1790:  ‘The natives will be made severe examples of whenever any man is wounded by them….and my fixed determination to repeat it, whenever any future breach of good conduct on their side, shall render it necessary’. Governor Phillip, cited Tench. ibid

Governor Phillip General Orders ‘differing in no respect from the last‘ were repeated on 22 December 1790. The second raid triggered an algorithm of ‘terror’ that ‘lasted from the eighteenth to the twentieth century’. Kercher. ibid.

A map detailing ‘the better documented’ massacres of ‘dissenting Aboriginal’ Australians from the 1790s – to the 1920s was published in 2017


Appin – 1816: The first to meet the criteria of fourteen (14) ‘dissenting Aboriginals’ known to be killed in one (1) action occurred on Dhrawal land – at Broughton Pass, now ‘Macarthur country’, in April 1816.

Governor Lachlan Macquarie’s rules of engagement issued to Captain Wallis -April 1816 – are eerily similar to those of Governor Arthur Phillip’s General Orders to Marine Watkin Captain Tench – December 13th and 22nd of December 1790.

As with Phillip in 1790 – ‘instil universal terror‘ – [Macquarie’s] ‘rules of engagement were specific,  if grown up  men [killed] to be hanged up on Trees in Conspicuous Situations to Strike Survivors with the greater terror.

‘The only way British troops could get close to Aboriginal groups was to look for their campfires at night and surprise them in their sleep.  In these circumstances it was very difficult for soldiers to differentiate between, women and children’ and the same cant  ‘you will use every possible precaution to save the lives of the Native Women and Children’.  John Connor, The Australian Frontier Wars 1788-1838, UNSW Press, 2002

Like Tench ‘Wallis recognised the impossibility of carrying out the Governor’s orders to surrender. The only way to get close to them was in a pre-dawn raid in which the soldiers were unable to distinguish men from women and children.

[Wallis] ordered Lieutenant Parker to hand the corpses of Cannabaygal [ K….} and Dunell on a prominent hill near Lachlan Vale’.  Connor, cited The First Frontier, The Occupation of the Sydney Region 1788 to 1816, Peter Turbett, Rosenberg Publishing, 2011 


‘Some time later the skulls of Cannabaygal, Dunell and an unnamed woman were cut from their bodies…and ended up in the Anatomy Department of the University of Edinburgh’. Dr. Michael Pickering, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Program and Repatriation Program. National Museum of Australia cited Turbett. ibid.

Peter Turbett goes on to say at the time of publishing First Frontier some remains of those murdered in the Appin Massacre have been brought home.

See: Reel 6045 ……..















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