‘Native Fight on the Lower Goulburn River in 1842’ was painted by artist Caroline Le Souėf in 1895. Caroline grew-up in friendly contact with the local Aboriginal people of the Goulburn River Valley region, and developed an ongoing interest in their life and customs. Later in life she took up oil painting of Aboriginal subjects – reminiscences from her and her husband’s youth.
This painting depicts a fight between members of the Bangarang (spelled by Le Souėf as Pangarang) and the Oorilim tribes in 1842 witnessed and later described by Caroline’s husband Mr. Albert A. Le Souef. During his teens Albert spent three years at the Goulburn River protectorate station, managed by his father, where he gained lasting knowledge of Aboriginal culture and bushcraft.
It was during this time that he witnessed the fight depicted in this painting. In a written account accompanying the painting Albert describes the fight in vivid detail: 'Spears and boomerangs whizzed through the air, the men shouted and yelled defiance, while the women of the tribes hung on the outskirts of the combatants, cursing and taunting, lashing the ground with their opossum cloaks and yum sticks…the children screamed, the dogs howled, and altogether the uproar of the fight was deafening.' The account finishes with the restoration of peace: 'a third tribe…who were not mixed up in the quarrel and who were encamped on the opposite side of the river, crossed in their canoes, and rushing in a body unarmed among the belligerents, clasped the fighting men round their waists from behind, and by that means succeeded, with much loud talking, in stopping the fight…When peace was restored, I (who had watched the combat from behind a tree) found that no great damage had been done…Shortly after, the tribes seemed to have forgotten their quarrel, and were again on friendly terms, and on the following night held a grand Corroboree.' It is possible that the corroboree referred to at the end of Albert's description was the one painted by Caroline in the work 'Corroboree on the Goulbourn River'.