In 1838 the British colony of New South Wales was expanding rapidly - so rapidly in fact that squatters were setting up cattle and sheep stations beyond the “Limits of Location” which were the official boundaries of the colony. To set up these sheep and cattle stations the squatters used their convict labour who were “assigned” to them by the Government.

For the convicts generally being “assigned” was infinitely preferable to being in government service working on road gangs or building public buildings. As assigned workers on these remote stations they generally had a great deal more freedom and some had minimal supervision. Very few of the squatters to whom they were assigned actually lived on these stations in remote areas preferring to live in places such as Sydney, the Hunter Valley or the Hawkesbury. The supervision of the convicts was therefore left to free men employed as station superintendents or former convicts or “ticket of leave” convicts. On some stations the convicts were left to “supervise” themselves for long periods. A convict’s master nevertheless had ultimate control over them and on many levels the convicts were little better than slaves. They could not leave their stations without permission and they had to obey their masters at all times otherwise their masters could have them flogged.

The squatters were wealthy landholders who were able to expand their land holdings by using the convict labour assigned to them. Their workers drove their sheep or cattle into new areas and staked out an area as “theirs”. Within the “Limits of Location” a fee per acre was paid to the Government but outside the land was “free”. There was therefore ample motivation for the rapid “occupation” of this land outside the boundaries of the colony.

The Aborigines had, of course, lived on this land for tens of thousands of years and had a very clear and definite understanding of which areas were “theirs” and which belonged to the neighbouring tribes or clans. The Aborigines in the Liverpool Plains district were mainly  Kamilaroi. They had a very close knowledge of their land and their culture required them to use the land in a sustainable manner hence their nomadic lifestyle. As they used the resources of one area during a particular time of year, they then moved onto another area allowing time for the resources of the first area to regenerate. The knowledge of how to look after the resources of their land, (“ari”) the animal nurseries, the bird hatcheries etc was treated as special and handed down from generation to generation. Animals which were on their land were theirs to hunt. As they travelled around their “ari” they also visited various sites which were sacred to them.

Conflict: It is not surprising then given the combination of these different groups that there was conflict. It had in fact occurred all over the colony from the start of British settlement / occupation in 1788. As the white men, with their sheep and cattle, occupied Aboriginal land, they drove off the native animals and damaged the resources of the land that the Aborigines lived on. The Aborigines speared some of the sheep and cattle to eat instead. The whites regarded this as theft and attacked the Aborigines. Another issue which caused conflict was the fact that in these remote districts there were virtually no white women whatever. The abuse and rape of Aboriginal women became quite common which led the Aboriginal men to retaliate.