As one of the foundation events in Tasmanian history, what happened at Risdon Cove on 3 May 1804 has always had a place in narrative histories. A large party of Aborigines found themselves within the new English settlement, the first site for Hobart. They appeared to be astonished; the English certainly were. The officer in charge of the settlement on that day was Lieutenant William Moore, and his troops fired on the Aborigines, killing a number that was estimated variously from three to fifty.
W. F. Refshauge believes that the dead have not been well cared for by the living. Stories about the killings often show a poor understanding of what happened, and have added fanciful touches to the limited information available. Adopting an analytical rather than a narrative approach, his aim is to clear away as much unreliable matter as possible, yielding a more informed perspective on the day’s most unfortunate happenings.