Historian Dr Jennifer Debenham says the most common misunderstanding about colonial-era massacres of Aboriginal people was that they "just didn't happen".
An online map Dr Debenham has been creating with the University of Newcastle's Professor Lyndall Ryan for the past six years actually pinpoints the locations of 300 such events between 1780 and 1930.
The map records five massacres, which Dr Debenham defines as the murder of six or more people, near Dungog, Muswellbrook and Barrington. The killings, perpetrated by military, government officials, stockmen and settlers, resulted in the deaths of 71 Aboriginal people in a period of just 15 years.
The Colonial Massacres Map Project team has won a co-joint prize with national news outlet The Guardian for its research.
The Guardian's project "The Killing Times" used the data from the team's map to create an interactive report on colonial massacres, which included a map, a photo series of massacre sites around Australia and a collection of related stories. The project was awarded the $15,000 Premier's Digital History Prize on August 30.
The Guardian's Indigenous Affairs editor Lorena Allam, who led the special report, said it was "terrific" to be able to collaborate with academics on the project.
"As an Indigenous broadcaster, massacre history isn't new to me. I have done this work for twenty years from the perspective of my own people, so it was terrific to collaborate and find a way to put those two things together," she said. "As an Aboriginal woman this is my history. But, ultimately, it's the history of the nation."
Dr Debenham said the special report increased awareness of the online map, which would help it fulfill its original purpose as a publicly accessible research tool.
At the end of this year the funding to keep constructing the map would run out, she said. An update in October will add massacre sites in Western Australia, which have so far been absent.
Without further funding, Dr Debenham said that the map would provide a "starting point" for further inquiry. As research teams find evidence of further events they could contact the university's Digital Humanities unit, who will maintain the resource. The public can continue to add their own comments to the map.
Dr Debenham said estimating how many more massacres occurred in Australia was impossible because, in many cases, official records had been obfuscated.
"This was state sanctioned murder, whether it was authorities turning a blind eye or giving specific orders," she said. "The act of killing was against the law so these crimes were hidden. In some cases there was a real conspiracy of silence."