Forestry and conservation
By the mid 1870s timber needs in the area had grown considerably. Trees including hoop pine Araucaria cunninghamii, bunya pine Araucaria bidwillii, red cedar Toona ciliata and a variety of hardwoods were being felled from the area’s vast native forests. The year 1907 marked a turning point. State forest reserves were declared in the area and the logging of old growth forests was superseded by a hoop and bunya pine plantation industry.
As colonial entrepreneurs pushed into their territory to establish pastoral stations, they together with the Butchulla set up a fierce resistance: from 1847 to 1853, 28 squatters and their shepherds were killed.
In June 1849 two youths, the Pegg brothers, were speared on the property while herding sheep. Gregory Blaxland, the 7th son of the eponymous explorer Gregory Blaxland took vengeance, heading a vigilante posse of some 50 squatters and station hands and, at Bingera, ambushed a group of 100 sleeping myalls of the “Gin gin tribe” who are usually identified now as the Gubbi Gubbi.
They had feasted on stolen sheep. Marksmen picked off many, even those fleeing by diving into the Burnett River. The slaughter was extensive, and the bones of many of the dead were uncovered on the site many decades later.
Blaxland was in turn killed in a payback action sometime in July–August 1850. His death was revenged in a further large-scaled massacre of tribes in the area. The escaped convict James Davis, in addition to dwelling with several other tribes, is said to have lived for a time with the Gubbi Gubbi.
John Mathew, a clergyman turned anthropologist, also spent 5 years with them at Manumbar and mastered their language. He described their society in a 1910 monograph, Two Representative Tribes of Queensland. The Kabi he grew up with numbered no more than a score by the early 1880s.