17th April 1816, near Appin

17th April 1816, near Appin, etching and aquatint, MDF stand, 2018, 57x90x30cm

17th April 1816, near Appin looks at Australia's colonial history, the varying interpretations of that history and how they can be written into and out of the landscape. The landscape depicts the Georges River in the Nepean area south of Sydney, near where a massacre against the local Indigenous population was carried out at the order of Governor Macquarie. The portrait is drawn from a statue of Governor Macquarie found on the corner of Macquarie St and St James Rd. The text seen reads as follow:

Governor Macquarie to Earl Bathurst. 18th March 1816.


In the mean time it will be Absolutely Necessary to Inflict exemplary and Severe Punishments on the Mountains Tribes who have lately exhibited to Sanguinary a Spirit against the Settlers. With this view it is my Intention, as soon as I shall have Ascertained What Tribes Committed the Late Murders and Depredations, to send a strong Detachment of Troops to drive them to a Distance from the Settlements of the White Men, and to Endeavour to take some of them Prisoners in order to be punished for their late atrocious Conduct, so as to Strike them with Terror against Committing Similar Acts of Violence in future.

Governor Macquarie to Earl Bathurst. 8th June 1816.


Pursuant to this determination and in consequence of various Subsequent Acts of Atrocity being Committed by the Natives in the remote parts of the Settlements, I found it Necessary on the 10th April to Order Three Detachments of the 46th Regiment under the several Commands of Captains Schaw and Wallis, and Lieutenant Dawe of the Corps, to proceed to those Districts most infested and Annoyed by them on the Banks and in the Neighbourhood of the rivers, Nepean, Hawkesbury and Grose, giving them instructions to make as many Prisoners as possible; this Service Occupied a Period of 23 days, during which time the Military Parties very rarely met with any of the Hostile Tribes; the Occurrence of most importance which took place was under Captain Wallis’s direction, who, having Surprized One of the Native Encampments and meeting with some resistance, killed 14 of them and made 5 Prisoners; among the killed there is every reason to believe that Two of the most ferocious and Sanguinary of the Natives were included, some few other Prisoners were taken in the Course of this route and have been lodged in Gaol. This necessary but painful Duty was Conducted by the Officers in Command of the Detachments perfectly in Conformity to the instructions I had furnished them.”

All images ©Brigitta Summers unless otherwise stated.