European Women on the Frontier: Mary Ann Armit

By Lynley Wallis and Heather Burke As with much history, the stories of women are largely missing from histories of the Native Mounted Police (NMP). Yet despite this absence it’s clear that most NMP camps were also occupied by women, both Aboriginal and European. Like most colonial women, the European wives of NMP officers faced […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

Needles in Haystacks: Why Finding Massacres in the Australian Archaeological Record is So Challenging

By Lynley Wallis The publication of a map showing frontier massacre sites across Australia by eminent historian Professor Lyndall Ryan has generated enormous public interest in the past 12 months (Figure 1). The map represents a wonderful resource with substantive research behind it. However, users should be aware that the “massacre locations” shown on it (and most […]

Read More

All for one and one for all

By Tony Pagels Before the development of the centrefire cartridge in 1866, the Native Mounted Police (NMP) were issued with a variety of muzzle and breech loading percussion weapons. This assortment of weapons caused confusion regarding ammunition, so the solution was to arm all personnel with the same weapon (QSA846918 In letter 73/2320). The decision […]

Read More