Dr Ray Kerkhove is an independent historian and cultural researcher specialising in Indigenous history and material culture of southern Queensland.

August 24, 2018 he spoke at North Stradbroke Island Museum on Minjerribah about the frontier wars. His reflections on sites of conflict, dates and casualties can be found

Stradbroke and Moreton Islands 1832-1833

Research, presented to the Australian Historical Association’s Conflict in History conference July 2015 at the University of Queensland, estimated 66,680 Queensland deaths between 1788 and 1930. Of those deaths, 65,180 were indigenous, which is about three times what was previously thought.

The report’s co-author, historian Professor Raymond Evans, said the calculations were based on official records, anecdotal reports and the number of patrols undertaken by the colonial Queensland government’s Native Police. Professor Evans said the estimated death toll was at least on a par with Australian casualties during World War I.


The Indigenous population of the Australian continent at the time of European settlement is estimated at more than 700,000. That number began declining rapidly from 1789 due to smallpox epidemic, reaching its nadir of 93,000 people in 1900. In 2018, projections show the Indigenous population will return to its pre-contact level in 2021. https://www.nma.gov.au/defining-moments/resources/smallpox-epidemic