‘A Large Comet Appeared in the West’: The Daily Journals of Three NMP Camps

By Heather Burke Jonathan Richards (2005:1–9) has pointed out the rich veins that can be tapped when searching for Native Mounted Police (NMP) records in the Qld State Archives by burrowing through general file series, such as the Colonial Secretary’s inwards and outwards correspondence, the inquest files of the Justice Department, or the Executive Council […]

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’70 or 80 Natives Attacked the Party while Travelling’: Understanding the Spatial Dimension of Conflict on the Frontier

By Heather Burke Archaeologists are obsessed with space. Not the kind you can look up and see at night, but something more earthly—the physical relationships between things that can be transformed through measurement into a variety of maps and plans. Geographic information systems (GIS) are only the most recent way to capture and collect such […]

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Piecing together the officers’ list: the value of obituaries

By Heather Burke We’ve written before about how useful TROVE’s digitised historical newspapers can be as a source of information unavailable anywhere else. The latest demonstration of their value was in the discovery of the names of two white officers of the Native Mounted Police who were previously unknown to us: Walter Pickering and Edward […]

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What’s in a Name?

By Heather Burke Naming can be a means of identification, classification, control and transformation. For Europeans, the stability of their names—particularly their first names—is taken for granted. Both first and last names provide an anchor for the individual and connect them to family and place. For Aboriginal people names were much less stable but no […]

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Cramming Monkeys

A large part of our project involves sifting through various sources of historical information for insights into the NMP. One of these sources is TROVE, a repository of historical Australian newspapers from every state and territory in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Searching TROVE is dangerous. Each attempt reveals a chain of interconnected events, people and places […]

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Extending the Pumpkin Line

By Heather Burke Since writing our post on the possible defensive uses of pumpkins on the Queensland frontier, we’ve come across several more references to carving pumpkins and melons as a means to frighten Aboriginal people away from European camps. One of these accounts referred to it as an ‘old trick’, implying that it was […]

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Wounds of all descriptions: the NMP and medical self-treatment

By Heather Burke For many people across Australia in the nineteenth century good health was a precarious state of being. Doctors were few and far between and even visiting a chemist may have been impossible, given the demands of distance and the difficulties of travel. For the Qld Native Mounted Police—deliberately stationed far beyond the boundaries of […]

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