Left for Dead

By Heather Burke The discrepancy between lived reality and the version of it reported in the newspapers is nowhere more apparent than when trying to find evidence of frontier conflict events. Although attacks on White people were frequently reported—often in tones of stentorian outrage— attacks on Aboriginal people rarely were. Despite the bodies of Aboriginal […]

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Nervous Nation

By Heather Burke, Ray Kerkhove, Lynley A. Wallis, Cathy Keys and Bryce Barker In a previous post we detailed the results of a desk top survey into the range and nature of potentially fortified domestic structures (houses, huts, outbuildings) across Queensland. Reliable, first-hand written accounts of such building were rare, although not entirely absent, suggesting […]

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Reading the Rockhampton Letter Book

We’ve complained before about the general lack of records detailing the day-to-day realities of NMP life. This is most apparent in the lack of surviving Patrol Diaries and Camp Diaries from the Force’s 80 year existence. When at the Queensland State Archives recently, however, we came across a catalogue reference to a “Letterbook – police”, […]

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Fortifying the Frontier?

By Heather Burke, Ray Kerkhove, Lynley A. Wallis, Cathy Keys and Bryce Barker ‘In the hut we built we made square holes in the corners & sides, and had pieces of wood hung by pieces of green hide and a hide latch[?] we could just open the little door and fire away if necessary.’ James […]

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Cultures of terror

By Heather Burke In dealing with all savages you must make yourself feared. GeorgE Pearce Serocold (25 December 12857) Frontier conflict in colonies such as Australia was less military and more irregular than the popular conception of warfare, characterised by quick, highly-focused, short-term attacks, non-professional combatants, and a range of changing and temporary alliances between […]

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The Music of objects

By Heather Burke A soundscape is made up of the natural and human-made sounds that help to define an environment or a place. Although we tend to consider some sounds as “noise” — usually those things we find undesirable within our own cultural frame of reference, including other people’s preferred forms of music — all […]

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Uniform Buttons of the Native Mounted Police in Queensland, 1852–1904

By Nic Grguric The stranger turned round and revealed a rather prepossessing face, and I noticed a row of glittering buttons, which at once proclaimed the native police officer (Queenslander, 25 January 1879, p.109). A considerable assemblage of uniform buttons were recovered from the archaeological fieldwork carried out at six Native Mounted Police (NMP) sites […]

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Murdering Molvo Part II: Beyond History Written by the Victors

By Iain Davidson, Heather Burke and Lynley Wallis In a previous post we described a series of events that occurred in western Queensland (Qld) in 1879, involving the killings of four Europeans by Aboriginal people, and the reprisal massacres carried out by the NMP and local settlers that followed. The story we told was reconstructed […]

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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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