“Taking French leave”: Desertions amongst the Troopers

By Lynley Wallis and Heather Burke The numerous accounts in official records of desertions by Aboriginal troopers lend weight to suggestions that many men did not join the Native Mounted Police (NMP) force willingly. In some cases entire detachments deserted, such as in 1865 when Lieutenant Charles Blakeney had this happen for the second time: […]

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The Discipline of Dress: The Many Meanings of NMP Uniforms

By Heather Burke A uniform, in any setting, is an institutional garment. Conformity to it has certain goals and the experience of wearing it is a critical part of adhering to a particular set of rules. For the troopers of the Native Mounted Police (NMP), the donning, wearing and maintaining of their uniforms was considered […]

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Men in Blue (and Red): A Brief History of the Qld NMP Uniform

[The Native Police] are clothed in a uniform of blue with scarlet relief, armed with Snider rifles, drilled in semi-military fashion (Brisbane Courier, 15 June 1878, p3). From the start of the Native Mounted Police (NMP), the uniforms worn by officers and troopers were a central element of their structure and presence. The lure of […]

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On Her Majesty’s Service

By Alyssa Madden Policing and communications were both crucial in enabling the mostly European settlers to establish themselves in the ‘Sunshine State’ in the nineteenth century. The Qld Native Mounted Police (NMP) were tasked with protecting settlers from Aboriginal resistance, while the early telegraph system linked both the remote detachments with senior officers stationed elsewhere, […]

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Self Provisioning at Boralga

By Leanne Bateman Food rations were an important lifeline for the occupants of Native Mounted Police (NMP) camps, but it was often a tenuous lifeline at best. The cost of rations was a problem for the government, who had to constantly justify the existence of the NMP force to the taxpayer, who frequently complained that […]

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Snake Buckles on the Frontier

By Leanne Bateman For centuries regalia manufacturers have adopted elaborate designs for belt buckles, some of which were often imbued with symbolic meaning. One such design is the symbolic depiction of a serpent on belt clasps. Over the centuries this design has proven to be very popular, and is considered to typically represent the dual […]

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