Why did Billibellary and other Wurundjeri and Boonwurrung clansmen and women parley with Batman on the banks of the Merri Creek in June 1835? And what befell the clans in the decade and a half that followed that fateful encounter with Britain’s Empire? Based primarily on the daily journal of Assistant Protector William Thomas, this work meticulously documents the lives, and deaths, of those who struggled to hold their Country as La Trobe unleashed ‘the terror of British law’ on them. Both defender of Kulin rights and agent of empire, Thomas was a unique witness to the devastation of the Kulin, recording their heartbreak and defiance as they succumbed to disease and hunger. The Years of Terror: Banbu-deen provides a new history of colonisation at Port Phillip, bringing the focus to bear on those who were violently dispossessed of lands and waters, theirs from time immemorial.
‘This book is a remarkable achievement that makes William Thomas’ voluminous work even more accessible. It offers a rich portrait of those harrowing years after invasion – those ‘years of terror’. The chapters are brimming with details, characters and insights. They have the feel of the journals, yet flow so much more freely and help elucidate the complexities of Thomas and his interactions with the peoples of the Kulin Nation. It is a book that will reward re-reading and will become an invaluable resource for years to come.’ Dr Billy Griffiths