Angus McMillanPrint Page Print this page


Photographs supplied by Chris McLaughlin

A cairn commemorates Angus McMillan, the explorer of Gippsland, who died at this spot.

Angus McMillan (14 August 1810 – 18 May 1865) was an explorer and pioneer pastoralist in Gippsland, Victoria, Australia. Arriving in Australia in 1838, he rose swiftly in colonial society. In retribution for the murder of a fellow pastoralist and for the killing of livestock, he led many of the Gippsland massacres of 1840-1850, which killed or drove away the region's indigenous population.

In need of money, in 1864 McMillan acceded to a request from the Victorian Government to lead a team of men into Gippsland's alpine region with the aim of mapping and clearing tracks to support local mining operations. Within six months McMillan and his men had constructed more than 350 kilometres of track through rugged terrain near Omeo and Dargo. It was to be McMillan's last expedition; in May 1865 he was clearing a track near Dargo when a pack-horse slipped and fell, crushing him beneath it. McMillan was carried to the public house in Iguana Creek, suffering serious internal injuries. He died on 18 May and was buried in the public cemetery in Sale.

Public interest in Angus McMillan and Sir Paul Edmund de Strzelecki was initiated in a 1920`s campaign to recognise the European explorers in Victoria, and a chain of commemorative cairns was erected across the region. McMillan’s contribution to the region was also conferred in naming the Federal Electoral Division of McMillan in 1948, which includes original lands of the Gunai Kurnai in west and south Gippsland.

The view of McMillan as heroic explorer and pioneer was disrupted in the late 1970`s when historian Peter Gardner highlighted the extent of the frontier conflict in Gippsland, naming McMillan as a key figure. The attack on the Brataualung camped at Warrigal Creek following the murder of Ronald Macalister in 1843 was the foremost of several incidents that resulted in the loss of Gunai Kurnai lives. Historian Don Watson named McMillan as the leader of the ‘Highland Brigade’, a group of Gaelic-speaking Scotsmen who conducted reprisals against the Gunai Kurnai.  The extent of McMillan’s leadership of these conflicts has been contested although his own accounts indicate that he was involved.

McMillan was responsible for raising fears of a European woman held captive by the Gunai Kurnai, firstly in 1840 and again in 1846 - 47. Little was made of the earlier claim, but in 1846 with the European population of Port Phillip District expanding and frontier conflict a matter of public anxiety, McMillan’s reports sparked a heightened reaction to the missing ‘White Woman of Gippsland’. Two search parties travelled throughout Gippsland, bringing much disruption and more violent deaths to the Gunai Kurnai despite there being no firm evidence of a kidnapping.


Address:Fernbank - Dargo Road, Iguana Creek, 3875
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -37.708889
Long: 147.291667
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Monument
Monument Theme:People
Actual Event Start Date:18-May-1865
Actual Event End Date:18-May-1865


Front Inscription

Angus McMillan
1810 - 1865

May 28, 1839 - First expedition left Currawong
Sept. 6, 1839 - Second party left Omeo
Jan. 11, 1840 - Left Numblamunjie (Ensay)
Jan, 15, 1840 - Reached mouth of Tambo River
Discovered and named 
Nicholson River (Jan, 16, 1840)
Mitchell River (Jan. 17, 1840)
Avon River (Jan. 19, 1840)
Macalister River (Jan. 21, 1840)
Feb. 13, 1841 - Reached sea at Port Albert
1859 - 60 - Member, Legislative Assembly
1864 - 65 - Leader, "Alpine Expedition." 

Plaque :

In commemoration of Angus McMillan

Discoverer of Gippsland

Died here,

May 18, 1865.

Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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