June 21, 2020

A man of strength, wisdom, courage and honour Windradyne was a man who saved his people from genocide and fought for justice. A northern Wiradjuri man Windradyne was described by a white convict Sydney Gazette as “One of the finest looking natives we have seen in this part of the country. He is not particularly tall but much stouter and more proportionably limbed than the majority of his countrymen; which combined with a noble-looking countenance and piercing eye, are calculated to impress the beholder with other than disagreeable feelings towards a character who has been so much dreaded by the Bathurst settler. Saturday is, without doubt, the manliest native we have ever beheld” – December 30, 1824. Another stated that “Saturday (which was what the British called him) was a very fine figure, very muscular and his limbs are of beautiful symmetry. He had a mind unconsciously apparently of superiority” – George Sutter. 

 

Although he was fairly calm when the settlers first interacted with his people as he befriended the Europeans and showed them his land and the great places of his country things soon turned south as you could imagine with the history of the Aboriginal people east of the blue mountains. With relationships worsening from the disrespect and the agenda of the white settlers becoming clear to Windradyne that this was not just a visit the disagreements began. The traditional lands and sacred historic sites of the Wiradjuri people began to be destroyed by the newcomers as burial grounds, hunting grounds and sacred ceremonial grounds were knocked over and cleared. 

With all of this occurring Windradyne restrained from using violence however one incident put Windradyne in a position that left him no choice. A farmer offered Windradyne and his friend some potatoes one day and with all his normal hunting resources and farming grounds destroyed he went back later to the farm and began digger the potatoes up. Thinking that Wiradjuri country was his country and the food was for everyone and not owned to anyone with his traditional way of life he dug the potatoes up. 

The white settler took offence to these actions and rounded some of his mates who chased and killed Windradyne and his family, including his wife

As Windradyne began to fight back for the stealing of his land and the killing of his people he was painted the villain and listed as a murderer. 

 

Things became intense between the Wiradjuri people and the settlers with battles beginning almost with every interaction, the Governor Thomas Brisbane was forced to call martial law in Bathurst NSW which legalised killing the traditional owners of the land. As a result, all Aboriginal people were shot down without any respect. A sickening event took place that was very common across the country from the English settlers and that was a massacre killing of innocent. The settlers began preparing a huge feast and invited all the Aboriginal people around labelling it as a truce and to bring everyone to have something to eat; man, women and children all gathered and came from many parts of the Wiradjuri nation even out from hiding from the new martial laws and as they did they were all rounded up and shot with William Sutter stating that they were murdered “without any regard to age or gender”.

Windradnye’s fury raged more as he fought back he became impossible to catch and so came the rewards for catching him dead or alive. 

As time went on and with the slow falling of the Aboriginal resistance due to modern advances in the weaponry the great warrior could see that his people were slowly being erased from his traditional lands. He rounded up 130 warriors and marched 17 days to the settlement of Parramatta to attend the annual native feast, he had the word ‘PEACE’ stuck in his hat. 

With the respect that he had gained from Governor Thomas Brisbane, he was given his pardon and a truce that would stop the martial law murdering taken place on his people. With his political stance and tactical move of marching into the largest settlement at this time in Australia Windradyne was said to have saved the Wiradjuri people being completely killed and taken off their land. This act of courage and strong political statement along with his empowering presence and passion for his people can be seen within Aboriginal communities across Australia today. There should be a statue placed where Windradnye fought in the ‘Battle of Bathurst’ that should represent and honour him for his devotion to our ongoing battles in this country.