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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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 […]

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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 […]

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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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Who Were the Officers of the NMP?

By Cherrie De Leiuen In a previous blog we discussed the project’s online database, which holds both the archaeological and documentary evidence that has been collected and will be accessible to the public later in 2019. One database category that is explored in more detail in this post is the NMP officers. At present (April […]

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Archaeologist Nights: A Tale of One Thousand and One* Artefacts

By Uschi Artym *Actually, it’s a tale of 3600 artefacts, or thereabouts, and counting! I’m happy to report that, after 18 long months, the cataloguing of artefacts from the Boulia Native Mounted Police (NMP) site is almost complete. While the process has been lengthy — and at times tedious — cataloguing is arguably one of […]

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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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‘To be Seen and Not Heard’: Children and the NMP

By Lynley Wallis and Heather Burke Given the work with which they were routinely engaged, it is hard to reconcile the idea of a Native Mounted Police camp replete with happy children scampering through the bush, bursting with laughter. But in many cases this must have been a relatively common occurrence since, as we noted […]

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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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‘My Darling Lis’: John Kenny’s Letters to his Wife Eliza

By Heather Burke We’ve written before about specific NMP officers who were eulogised in later life (Piecing together the officers’ list and Stanhope O’Connor). In reflecting on the various episodes in long and sometimes highly eventful careers, such accounts tend to portray these men as figures from a “Boy’s own” tale: full of adventure, exploration […]

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