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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‘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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From the Horse’s Mouth: Horses and the NMP

By Lynley Wallis and Heather Burke Today we don’t think twice about travelling vast distances by car at great speed, so it’s hard to imagine what life was like before the invention of the internal combustion engine. The First Fleet that arrived in southeast Australia in 1788 included horses, and by the time colonists began […]

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My unfortunate habit of ‘nipping’*: Alcohol and the Native Mounted Police

By Bryce Barker The historical record tells us that alcohol consumption in the early days of European ‘settlement’ was prodigious (Dingle 1978, 1980; see Figure 1). Indeed, the most common artefact we have recovered during excavations at Native Mounted Police (NMP) camps is glass, by far the most common type of which comes from alcohol […]

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Glamping: Native Mounted Police Style

By Uschi Artym ‘Disgraceful’, ‘comfortable’ and ‘respectable’—these were some of the words used to describe the Diamantina, Jundah and Boulia Native Mounted Police (NMP) camps by contemporary visitors. Scant historical documentation remains on just how NMP camps were laid out and what they looked like, so wondering about what constituted a ‘comfortable’ camp, or distinguished […]

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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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