The First European Contact
The first Europeans to cross through kalkadoon tribal country were explorers Burke and Wills who crossed the Cloncurry River in 1861 on the Victoria expedition heading for Cape York Peninsula. They were seen by the Kalkadoons following the Corella River into the gulf and on their return journey through Kalkadoon country again. Years later a few of the Kalkadoons who had seen the expedition were astonished to find that apart from John King the whole party including camels and horses had perished on Coopers creek, they were astonished because Kalkadoon country had such an abundance of food.
With the establishment of Burketown in 1865 large numbers of settlers flooded south to Kalkadoon territory where traditional and sacred limited water and food supplies were threatened by the large numbers of whites.
The Kalkadoons patience was at an end by 1875 with more and more white people flooding to the area and sacred sites and water supplies being violated so the Kalkadoon resistance started, mostly ambushing stock and horse pulled carts to start with then in 1878 three stock men were speared and killed along with their herd of cattle while they were camping at a waterhole that was a sacred Kalkadoon site. From this point onward the Kalkadoon waged war against the whites using battle techniques not seen before that have now been studied by armies around the world. The Kalkadoon warriors would attack several different outposts at once ensuring that no reinforcements could be sent, they also used their bush skills and would attack a party with spears then disappear back into the bush before the first spear had struck its target. For the next few years the Kalkadoon people used guerrilla warfare to win a series of decisive victories over the whites.
Early in 1883 the officer in charge of the Cloncurry native police Marcus Beresford was attacked with 4 of his troopers while tracking Kalkadoon warriors in the McKinley ranges. Beresford and 3 of his troopers were killed with the fourth trooper walking 20 miles with a spear still in his thigh to raise the alarm. For the next year the hills and surrounding area was Kalkadoon country once more with the white people not venturing too far from the safety of Cloncurry.
Late in 1883 Frederick Charles Urquhart was appointed the new sub inspector of the Native Police in Cloncurry and set about restocking horses and native troopers moving their camp 20 miles out of town to maintain discipline.
In the middle of 1884 James Powell was speared to death while mustering cattle, he was the co owner of Calton Hills Station with Alexander Kennedy. When Kennedy heard the news of his partner’s death he rode eighty kilometres with his men to meet up with sub inspector Urquhart and his troopers and join forces. They then tracked the Kalkadoon warriors and trapped them in a gorge killing all the war party as well as women and children. Over the next months private posses and the new Native Police took a heavy toll on the Kalkadoon people and when a Chinese shepherd was killed in September the stations owner gathered a large number of men to join forces with Urquhart’s Native Police creating the first paramilitary force in Australia.