A single incident sparked off by racial hatred was at the heart of five murders, numerous rapes and several cases of arson in New South Wales in 1901. James Governor, 25, who was both victim and protagonist, was half-white and half-Aboriginal, and was racially abused by both groups. When he married a white girl, Ethel Page, she was then ostracised by both communities.

Governor and his young wife became tenants on a farm in Breelong, New South Wales, but their landlord, John Mawbey, the farmer, resented the fact that Governor had a white wife.

In the spring of 1900 Governor and another Aborigine, Jack Underwood, believed Mawbey had underpaid them for some part-time work they had done on his farm. They went to see the farmer and finding him absent went berserk with frustration and murdered five of his family.

For the next three months the two men, joined by Governor’s brother Joseph, went on the rampage throughout New South Wales, raping and burning down farms. Underwood, who was blind in one eye and limped, was arrested first, and later hanged. Joseph Governor was shot dead by the police. James Governor was arrested soon afterwards and hanged at Long Bay Prison in Sydney on Friday, January 18th, 1901.