Why Nineteenth Century Frontier Violence is Relevant Today: the Continuing Legacy

By Lynley Wallis, Heather Burke and Bryce Barker From studies on the Armenian genocide to the Jewish holocaust and North American frontier conflict and dispossession (e.g. Ehlers et al. 2013; Harris 2020; Mangassarian 2016) it is now recognised that collective and individual trauma can have a long-term effect on successive generations of people. The most […]

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Murdering Molvo Part I: The Events at Wonomo Waterhole

By Iain Davidson, Heather Burke, Lance Sullivan and Lynley Wallis The nature of historical knowledge is complex, involving oral history, archaeology and (less often than is generally supposed) written documents, many of which begin with some sort of oral telling. Here we outline the historical knowledge of a particular series of events in northwest Queensland […]

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Seeing the wood and the trees: culturally modified Cooktown ironwood trees at Lower Laura (Boralga) Native Mounted Police camp, Cape York Peninsula

By Noelene Cole, Lynley Wallis, Heather Burke, Bryce Barker and Rinyirru Aboriginal Corporation A day after setting up camp near the dray track which connected Cooktown to the Palmer Goldfield in south-east Cape York Peninsula, Sub-Inspector O’Connor and 24 troopers of the Native Mounted Police (NMP) were attacked by ‘daring and war-like’ Aboriginal land owners […]

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Wired: Aboriginal People and Colonial Communication Networks

By Lynley Wallis In a previous post, Alyssa Madden discussed the relationship between telegraph stations and the Native Mounted Police (NMP) across colonial Queensland. Seven years after the first telegraph office in the Southern Hemisphere was opened in Melbourne in 1854 (Gerrand 2014), the line from Brisbane to Ipswich was operational, and was connected to NSW […]

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Aboriginal Rock Art and the Native Mounted Police

By Noelene Cole Image making, an ancient and universal human practice, was revolutionised when photography became more portable and affordable in the second half of the nineteenth century. Although it was initially conceived as a means of objectively representing reality, photography was soon recognised as a powerful, persuasive medium of visual communication. Hence, for the […]

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Violent Etymologies

By Heather Burke A map is a frail thing, although the politics that underlie its construction and naming practices are not. In 2017 Queensland removed several racist place names from the map, prompting debate over whether memorials to Robert Towns and John Mackay—the namesakes of both Townsville and Mackay—should tell their history more fully, given […]

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Goodie or Baddie? Frederick Walker, the First Commandant of the Native Police, 1848–1855

By Bryce Barker As can be seen from reading about Stanhope O’Connor, Wentworth D’Arcy Uhr and Thomas Coward, the lives and circumstances of the officers in the Native Mounted Police (NMP) force were complex and multi-faceted. However, many accounts of individual officers often portray them as either ‘genocidal murderers’ or ‘stalwart keepers of peace on […]

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William Nichols, the NMP and the Murder of Aboriginal People at Irvinebank in 1884

By Lynley Wallis In an earlier blog post I wrote about the challenges of finding contemporary physical evidence of deaths from the colonial frontier, and why such efforts are often akin to looking for a needle in a haystack (cf. Litster and Wallis 2011). Despite this, there are some rare instances where the specific location […]

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Moments of Red

By Heather Burke When I imagine the Australian “outback” I think of the paintings of Tom Roberts or Frederick McCubbin and the relatively restrained colour palette they used to represent the landscape. While certainly complex, these colours are relatively dull and reflect the olive greens, straws, ochres, purples and blues of eucalypt, grass, rock and […]

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