“I am, Sir, &c., Tom Coward”

By Heather Burke Thomas (Tom) Coward was described as many things throughout his life: a ‘thoroughly good explorer’, an ‘experienced bushman’, ‘remarkable and interesting’, tyrannical, irascible, belligerent and domineering. He is one of the better documented NMP officers, chiefly because in his later years he seems to have told his life story to anyone who […]

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‘The Art of Cookery is in a Most Barbarous State’*: Food on the Frontier

By Heather Burke Jane Fyfe, who accompanied her husband Alexander to his large pastoral run on the Mackenzie River Central Qld in 1862, neatly summed up the state of food on the frontier when she complained in a letter to her aunt: … We have plenty of fish and game and splendid mutton but nothing […]

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‘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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