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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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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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 […]

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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 […]

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The Social Capital of Officers in the NMP

By Heather Burke In the 1960s French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu offered an influential framework for thinking about the social differences between people. Going beyond straightforward economic theory, he argued that there are three forms of capital that enable society to function and to create the social structures under which we all live. These can theoretically be […]

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