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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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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Seeing the wood and the trees: culturally modified Cooktown ironwood trees at Lower Laura (Boralga) Native Mounted Police camp, Cape York Peninsula

By Noelene Cole, Lynley Wallis, Heather Burke, Bryce Barker and Rinyirru Aboriginal Corporation A day after setting up camp near the dray track which connected Cooktown to the Palmer Goldfield in south-east Cape York Peninsula, Sub-Inspector O’Connor and 24 troopers of the Native Mounted Police (NMP) were attacked by ‘daring and war-like’ Aboriginal land owners […]

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Aboriginal Rock Art and the Native Mounted Police

By Noelene Cole Image making, an ancient and universal human practice, was revolutionised when photography became more portable and affordable in the second half of the nineteenth century. Although it was initially conceived as a means of objectively representing reality, photography was soon recognised as a powerful, persuasive medium of visual communication. Hence, for the […]

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Violent Etymologies

By Heather Burke A map is a frail thing, although the politics that underlie its construction and naming practices are not. In 2017 Queensland removed several racist place names from the map, prompting debate over whether memorials to Robert Towns and John Mackay—the namesakes of both Townsville and Mackay—should tell their history more fully, given […]

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Goodie or Baddie? Frederick Walker, the First Commandant of the Native Police, 1848–1855

By Bryce Barker As can be seen from reading about Stanhope O’Connor, Wentworth D’Arcy Uhr and Thomas Coward, the lives and circumstances of the officers in the Native Mounted Police (NMP) force were complex and multi-faceted. However, many accounts of individual officers often portray them as either ‘genocidal murderers’ or ‘stalwart keepers of peace on […]

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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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