After acquiring considerable wealth through grazing, Horatio Wills became a gentleman-farmer at Geelong and served as a member of the Victorian Legislative Council. Turning his attention north in 1860, Wills purchased the lease of Cullin-La-Ringo Station on the Nogoa River in Central Queensland and the following year his party of 25 men, women and children set out from Brisbane with a nucleus of stock to take formal possession of the property. In Victoria Wills had established cordial relations with the Aboriginal people and despite warnings from neighbouring pastoralists he took few precautions on the Queensland frontier. It proved to be a fatal mistake, though what prompted local Aboriginal people to attack Wills’ party remains unclear. What is known with certainty is that in the early afternoon of 17 October 1861 a large group of Aboriginal warriors descended on the camp and killed 16 European men, women and children. Wills was among the victims. In response, units of the Native Police and vigilante groups organised by pastoralists conducted a series of savage reprisals throughout a wide area of Central Queensland.
Queensland State Archives Item ID 1137537, Digital Image ID 2779
Colonial Secretary’s Office