Butterabby Graves


City of Greater Geraldton

Place Number



Devil's Creek Rd/Butterabby Rd Devil's Creek

Location Details

South side, near creek - approx 16km south of Mullewa

Local Government

Greater Geraldton



Construction Date

Constructed from 1865

Demolition Year


Statutory Heritage Listings

Type Status Date Documents
Heritage List Adopted 15 Dec 2015
State Register Registered 31 Mar 2006 HCWebsite.Listing+ListingDocument, HCWebsite.Listing+ListingDocument

Heritage Council Decisions and Deliberations

Type Status Date Documents
(no listings)

Other Heritage Listings and Surveys

Type Status Date Grading/Management
Municipal Inventory Adopted 25 Jul 1996
Municipal Inventory Adopted 24 Jun 2014 Category 1

Statement of Significance

Butterabby Graves has considerable historic value as a place which provides evidence of the attempted resistance by Aboriginal peoples to the spread of European pastoral expansion inWestern Australia. The execution and burial of the five Aboriginal people is an example of Colonial Government policies to deter indigenous resistance and as such provides evidence of the treatment of Aboriginal people under colonial law. Further the place is representative of isolated graves in rural WA.

Physical Description

Located approximately 16km south of Mullewa and 1.8km west of the Mullewa-Mingenew Road and set on a low hill is the site of the Buttterabby Graves which includes three random rubble grave mounds (1864/5), a large granite memorial stone (1973) and a shelter shed (c2001). All three graves consist of low randomly placed plies of rocks. The memorial stone is a distinctive rock, standing on end, one edge rounded and the other concave with a carved inscription on a flat surface that reads as follows: "In these graves lie JAMES RUDDspeared here at Butterabby, 23 September 1864. Also GARDER, WANGAYAKOO, YOURMAGARRA, CHARLACARRA, WillA CARRA, natives sentenced in Perth and hanged here 28 Jan 1865 for the spearing of THOMAS BOTT at Butterabby 22 Aug 1864." Nearby is a small flat roofed timber framed hut clad with corrugated iron to the west and lattice to the north and south, while being open to the eastern end. Inside an interpretive sign is affixed to the internal wall. There is no evidence of the tree on which the men were hanged


In the late 1850s pastoralists commenced extending their leaseholdings eastwards from the Champion Bay region for the purposes of grazing their stock during the summer months. One such pastoralist, John S Davis of Tibradden, took up pastoral leases to the east at Kockatea, Wooderarrung and Mullewa Spring. During the early 1860s there had been minor skirmishes recorded in the vicinity between the local aboriginal peoples and white settlers, mainly shepherds, over land, watering holes and grazing stock. However the situation escalated with the spearing of John Lewis, a shepherd of Davis', at Kockatea Spring on 17 February 1864. The culprit was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment at Rottnest Gaol. However, at the time the Champion Bay Resident Magistrate noted in his report to the Colonial Secretary that a strong deterrent would be for death sentences to be carried out on the spot the murder was committed. Meanwhile James Rudd, a tormer Conditional Pardon man took up a pastoral lease at Butterabby, about 6kms west of Kockatea, where he was assisted by Thomas Batt, a ticket-ot-Ieave man. On 22 August 1864, Bott was attacked by 8 Aboriginal men and, although taken into the Chapion Bay Depot Hospital he subsequently died of his injuries. Not long afterwards, Rudd was attacked by a small group of Aboriginals and killed. Meanwhile Constable Watson arrested 5 Aboriginal men in relation to the first killing. The prisoners were shipped to Perth for their trial where they were found guilty of the murder of Bott and sentenced to death. The prisoners were escorted back to Butterabby where a small crowd of twelve aboriginal people witnessed the hanging executions of the five men from a nearby tree on 28 January 1865. The bodies were buried at the site. The authorities hoped that the witnesses would communicate with their people about what had occurred and it would deter any future attacks. With closer agricultural settlement occurring in the Mullewa District in the early 1900s, the land on which Butterabby Graves is situated was taken up by John Keeffe in 1912 as Victoria Location 1920. Since then the property has been further subdivided and has changed hands a number of times within the same family. The memorial stone was erected on the site by Bert Keeffe in 1973. Listed as an Aboriginal Site in May 1975, in recent years a small shelter shed was erected on the site for the convenience of visitors.



State Heritage Office library entries

Library Id Title Medium Year Of Publication
1797 Conflict south of Mullewa : conflict between settlers and Aborigines : Butterabby gravesite. Report 197
10135 Dongorie Granites Loose-leaf 2010

Place Type

Other Built Type


Epoch General Specific

Architectural Styles


Construction Materials

Type General Specific
Other STONE Local Stone

Historic Themes

General Specific
PEOPLE Aboriginal people
DEMOGRAPHIC SETTLEMENT & MOBILITY Racial contact & interaction
OCCUPATIONS Grazing, pastoralism & dairying

Creation Date

09 Dec 1996

Publish place record online (inHerit):


Last Update

18 Mar 2021


This information is provided voluntarily as a public service. The information provided is made available in good faith and is derived from sources believed to be reliable and accurate. However, the information is provided solely on the basis that readers will be responsible for making their own assessment of the matters discussed herein and are advised to verify all relevant representations, statements and information.