Mapping NSW Aboriginal Missions, Stations, and Camps 1883-1969

This interactive map of New South Wales Aboriginal Missions, Stations and Camps identifies the locations and provides information about Aboriginal reserves, camps, stations, children’s homes, and some unofficial settlements operating under the tenure of the Aborigines Protection Board (which was replaced by the Aboriginal Welfare Board in 1940) during its active years. The map was developed by AIATSIS researcher Lachlan Russell as a contribution to the Australian Research Council Project ‘NSW Aborigines Protection/Welfare Board 1883-1969: A History’.  The ARC project was led by Professor John Maynard at the University of Newcastle, and also included researchers Professor Victoria Haskins, Dr Lawrence Bamblett, Dr Lorina Barker, Professor Jakelin Troy, and Dr Ray Kelly.

'Wreck Bay Aboriginal Station'
Wreck Bay Aboriginal Station. Photo: Brian Egloff

The map was compiled from information in the Aborigines Protection Board annual reports, the Aboriginal Places map of the NSW State Heritage Inventory, Department of Lands (NSW) Parish Maps, and a list of reserves from government gazettes provided by the NSW Department of Community Services.  It also draws on previous research by Peter Tobin[1], A. McGuigan[2] and Heather Goodall[3] who all added to the information about Aboriginal reserves in NSW. Research by former Welfare Officer the late Philip Felton expanded greatly upon the Department Of Community Services Reserves and Stations list and was foundational to this mapping project[4].

Old Mission at Brewarrina
Old Mission at Brewarrina.

This map of places that are significant to Aboriginal people’s lives and histories is published on under a Creative Commons license to encourage its widespread use and increase understanding of places of importance to a shared national history. On the research is also preserved for the long term.

‘Church at old Warangesda Mission’ WALSH.M02.CS-000062173 (AIATSIS)
Church at old Warangesda Mission. Photo: Michael Walsh.
WALSH.M02.CS-000062173 (AIATSIS)

Each location is categorised as station, reserve, camp, or children’s home. Clicking on the dot points pulls up details of the missions, including the names of the settlements, the years that the site was active, references for that site, and other maps that include the site. This information from the map is available to download.

Further information about the process of creating this map, the resources used, and the broader ARC research project can be found within the attached report by Lachlan Russell ‘Map of Aboriginal reserves in N.S.W. that existed during the tenure of the New South Wales Aborigines Protection/Welfare Board, 1883-1969’.

Access the National map dataset page

The data table is available by clicking the ‘Explore’ icon at the right hand side of the page and then ‘Go to Resource’

Further reading and sources 

P. Tobin, 1972, Aboriginal land rights in N.S.W.: demands, law and policy, Abschol, Carlton, VIC.

A. McGuigan 1984, Aboriginal reserves in N.S.W.: a land rights research aid: a listing from archival material of former Aboriginal reserves together with information required to access them, Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs, Sydney.

H. Goodall, 1996, Invasion to embassy: land in Aboriginal politics in New South Wales, 1770-1972, Allen & Unwin in association with Black Books, Sydney.

P. Felton, 2013, ‘The “lost” Aboriginal reserves of New South Wales: what became of the former Aboriginal reserves of New South Wales, 1883-1980?’.

Last reviewed: 29 May 2019