The Australian frontier wars were a series of conflicts that were fought between Indigenous Australians and European settlers that spanned a total of 146 years. The first fighting took place several months after the landing of the First Fleet in 26 January 1788 and the last clashes occurred as late as 1934. The most common estimates of fatalities in the fighting are at least 20,000 Indigenous Australians and between 2,000 and 2,500 Europeans. However, recent scholarship on the frontier wars in what is now the state of Queensland indicates that Indigenous fatalities may have been significantly higher. Indeed, while battles and massacres occurred in a number of locations across Australia, they were particularly bloody in Queensland, owing to its comparatively larger pre-contact Indigenous population.
Far more devastating in their impact on the Aboriginal population, however, were the effects of disease, infertility, loss of hunting grounds, starvation, and general despair, loss of pride, and the alcoholic 'remedy' for this devastation. There are indications that small-pox epidemics may have impacted heavily on some Aboriginal tribes, with depopulation in large sections of what is now Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland up to 50% or more, even before the move inland from Sydney of squatters and their livestock. Other diseases hitherto unknown in the Indigenous population—such as the common cold, flu, measles, venereal diseases and tuberculosis—also had an impact, significantly reducing their numbers and tribal cohesion, so limiting their ability to adapt and resist invasion and dispossession.