The first lieutenant-governor of Victoria, Charles Latrobe is celebrated in colonial historical mythology as a founding father of Melbourne and its institutions, including the State Library.

He is far less known for the role he played in sanctioning and covering-up numerous massacres of Kulin people in ‘his colonies’.

He dispatched regiments of soldiers on Kulin people, resulting in people being killed; intentionally didn’t report, or misreported information about massacres to the public record to preserve his image; employed a well-known racist to “investigate” mass-murders of Colijon and Kirrae people around Colac, and in fact never took seriously the investigation of murders of First Nations people in the area - maintaining always his illegitimate claim to land through force and suppression of its true custodians.

La Trobe dispatched a regiment of soldiers on a gathering of Barabool and Goulbarn people in Naarm with the instructions “overawe the opposition”. At least two people were murdered and 133 were locked up. All the camp dogs were shot.

He was involved in the no-mercy sentencing to hang Tasmanian freedom fighters Tunnerminerwait and Maulboyheenner. He believed that the First Nations people of Australia were a race of people who “were never intended to be swaddled at all, that they were wild animals living off an uncouth continent.”

SUGGESTED FURTHER READING:

Bruce Pascoe, Convincing Ground (2007)

 

“In 1841 alone La Trobe receives reports that the Henty Brothers’ employees kill seven Bunganditj with poisoned flour, the Wedge brothers kill fifteen, the Whyte brothers kill up to forty, the Winters five or more and Mounted Police forty or more on the Campaspe plains. These incidents are going to be unacceptable to London’s liberal Christians and either do not make it to the public record or disappear under a deluge of euphemism.” Pascoe p162