Tongerlongeter: First Nations Leader

In Tongerlongeter, historians Henry Reynolds and Nicholas Clements retrieve one of Australia's greatest war heroes from historical obscurity.

Tongerlongeter was the lynch pin that held his people together in the face of apocalyptic invasion, before and after the historic armistice that ended the war on New Year's Eve 1831. But while his achievements rival those of any Victoria Cross recipient, he is buried in an unmarked grave on Flinders Island.

During Tasmania's Black War of 1823-31, Tongerlongeter led the most effective Aboriginal resistance campaign in Australian history. His Oyster Bay Nation of southeast Tasmania and his ally Montpelliatta's Big River Nation of central Tasmania made some 710 attacks, killing 182 colonists and wounding a further 176. Despite this, First Nations casualties were up to three times greater and their population plummeted. Militarily it was a lost cause, yet their determined resistance and dogged commitment to Country, culture and each other provoked desperation at every level of the fledgling colony.

"This book does not remedy injustice, but it recognises it. It offers Tongerlongeter, his people and his allies respect, recognition and regret. May it be one of many such books." — Bill Gammage

"The triumph of Henry Reynolds' secret histories is that in breaking his country's silences he does so with bracing evidence that not only teaches and shocks us, destroying lies and prejudice, but demands an abiding admiration of the Indigenous people of Australia. I felt proud reading the story of Tongerlongeter and his epic resistance who, in nineteenth century words, 'held their ground bravely for 30 years against the invaders of their beautiful domains'. Reynolds and Nicholas Clements also reveal the guardians of empire in turmoil. Did we know? We do now. Once again, our greatest historian has given us the truth about Australia." — John Pilger

"Australia has recently discovered Indigenous defenders of country. They now include Tongerlongeter, recovered from a negligent posterity by Reynolds' and Clements' meticulous and imaginative research. Remarkable research and powerful writing." — Professor Peter Stanley, UNSW Canberra

Paperback, 288 pages.