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Conference will explore 1824 ‘martial law’ in Bathurst conflict or ‘gudyarra’

[by Bruce Andrews]


Image: supplied



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Charles Sturt University will host a major conference in August to mark the 200th anniversary of the 1824 declaration of martial law in Bathurst to quell two years of conflict or ‘gudyarra’ (meaning ‘war’) between Wiradyuri and colonists.


The two-day ‘Dhuluny 1824-2024: 200 Years of Wiradyuri Resistance Conference’ is on Thursday 15 and Friday 16 August at Charles Sturt University in Bathurst and will examine the historical and contemporary impacts of frontier conflict and Aboriginal dispossession.

‘Dhuluny’ (dhu-loin) is ‘truth, rectitude, that which is direct, straight, living, or gospel’.

The conference is part of a broader series of events planned by the Wiradyuri community during the week. It will commence on Wednesday 14 August with a formal welcome at the University in Bathurst with Wiradyuri and other First Nations groups dancing at sunset before keynote speakers address delegates.

The Declaration of Martial Law ‘in all the country westward of Mount York’ by then-Governor Thomas Brisbane on 14 August 1824 followed two years of conflict (1822-1824) between Wiradyuri and colonists in the Bathurst region. This spiralled into the broader history of what Wiradyuri people call the ‘Defence of Homeland’, or the Australian (Frontier) Wars.

Dr Stephen Gapps (pictured, inset), adjunct historian in the Charles Sturt Centre for Law and Justice and author of Gudyarra – The First Wiradyuri War of Resistance, said the 1824 declaration was the first use of martial law against Aboriginal people in New South Wales.

“Two hundred years later, 2024 marks the bicentenary of Governor Brisbane’s declaration of martial law,” Dr Gapps said.

“This has become an important locus of Wiradyuri pride in resisting colonisation and in acknowledging a period of resistance warfare, violence and massacres.

 “While it is commonly misunderstood and assumed that martial law was imposed on the Wiradyuri, martial law was declared to cover all, both British and de facto British subjects (Wiradyuri), and to attempt to stop colonists taking the law into their own hands, as well as stop attacks on them.

“The bicentenary is an opportunity to progress reconciliation by marking these shared histories and how they are reflected in the broader history of the Australian (Frontier) Wars.”

A series of community events will focus on the legacies of these events and their consequences for the Wiradyuri people and colonial settlers of the Bathurst region.

Dr Gapps said the conference is planned to be much more than an academic event.

“We want to reach out to artists, dancers, storytellers, military lawyers and legal historians, interdisciplinary academics, research students and more,” he said.

The conference organisers welcome expressions of interest for papers and presentations until Tuesday 30 April. For more information, enquire via

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