Villawood 1b - Bidjigal Resistance


Bidjigal Resistance: Sites of Insurgency

The arrival of the First Fleet onto Eora country marked the foundation of the prison nation through the conquest of people and land and the consequent decolonisation struggle. Bembulwoyan [Pemulwuy], a courageous warrior and member of the Bidjigal clan from the area of Sydney now known as Botany Bay, resisted the incursion of British colonists from 1790 until his killing in 1802.

From 1792  Bembulwoyan led a series of raids on Bidjigal lands in an attempt to impede the establishment of farming settlements. The ‘Battle of Parramatta’ in the mid 1790s involved about a hundred Aboriginal warriors who marched into the settlement of Parramatta and threatened to spear anyone who tried to stop them. At least five Aboriginal men were killed after soldiers opened fire and Bembulwoyan was wounded, but managed to survive.

In November 1801 a proclamation outlawed Bembulwoyan and offered rewards for his death or capture. In 1802 he was shot dead and his head was removed and sent to England with a letter from Governor King that stated: ‘Although a terrible pest to the colony, he was a brave and independent character.’


A depiction of Pemulwuy, by Samuel John Neele, where he is rowing a canoe is cut out and layered above bold red, black and yellow diagonal stripes painted on a building.

[imagecaption] ‘Welcome to Redfern’ concept art by Reko Rennie, Redfern Terrace Street Art Project based on the engraving ‘Pimbloy: Native of New Holland in a canoe of that country’ 1804 by Samuel John Neele [/imagecaption]

‘He’s the first patriot that died fighting for his land, culture and country, you know? And there’s no recognition. Up until now, he was written out of history.’

Lorna Munro



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