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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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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Wired: Aboriginal People and Colonial Communication Networks

By Lynley Wallis In a previous post, Alyssa Madden discussed the relationship between telegraph stations and the Native Mounted Police (NMP) across colonial Queensland. Seven years after the first telegraph office in the Southern Hemisphere was opened in Melbourne in 1854 (Gerrand 2014), the line from Brisbane to Ipswich was operational, and was connected to NSW […]

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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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“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 Many Meanings of ‘X’

By Tony Pagels The annotation ‘XXX’ can have numerous meanings. For centuries illiterate people have used an ‘X’ in place of a signature on contracts and agreements, or to make their mark. This was a regular occurrence in depositions given by illiterate workers to Native Mounted Police (NMP) officers, as well as by many of […]

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When Bureaucracies Kill

By Heather Burke Cecil Fulford Hill was 21 years old when he was speared by Aboriginal people near Rannes station in central Qld in 1865. Along with Henry Kaye (1881), George Dyas (1881) and Marcus Beresford (1883), Hill was one of only four NMP officers to be killed while on patrol, although many more were […]

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