Murder at Myall Creek : the trial that defined a nation
by Mark Tedeschi QC
The most sensational trial of mass murder in Australia’s legal history occurred in 1838 when eleven convicts and former convicts were put on trial for the murder of 28 aboriginal men, women and children at Myall Creek. The trial created enormous controversy at the time because it was virtually unknown for Europeans to be charged with the murder of Aboriginals. The prosecutor, and unsung hero of the case, was John Hubert Plunkett, the Attorney General of New South Wales. Plunkett was a man mired in contradictions and controversy whose ideology set him apart from mainstream colonial society. The Myall Creek massacre trial proved to be his greatest test as it pitted his forensic skills and belief in the equality of all people before the law and against the combined forces of the free settlers, squatters, military, emancipists, the newspapers, and even convicts.
In the deeply moving and page-turning account, Mark Tedeschi QC tells the story of the man who arguably did more to create modern-day civil rights in Australia than anyone else before or since. If Governor Macquarie was the architect of colonial Australia, then Plunkett was its visionary. Whilst Macquarie is remembered for his building projects and expanding the boundaries of the colony, Plunkett remains virtually unknown. Yet in his 24 years as Solicitor General and Attorney General of New South Wales Tedeschi argues that Plunkett did more to shape the future of modern-day Australian political, legal and educational institutions than anyone else in his day.