Donald Kerr

donald-kerrRole in the Project

As a coursework Masters student on the project, Donald will use archaeology and history to investigate the role the NMP played in shaping colonial society in central Queensland, how their identity as a law enforcement agency was formed, and how European, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people lived on the frontier. The NMP had an early, important and continuous presence in the Rockhampton area with a command centre and magistracy in the town and outposts in other coastal centres. The service’s identity was quickly shaped by violent events as a frontier militia that operated beyond the legal and ethical bounds of a regular police force largely out of public view. The rape and murder of Fannie Briggs, the unsolved extrajudicial killings of the Aboriginal troopers accused of the crime, alcohol abuse, and the subsequent removal of the Rockhampton police barracks to nearby Kabra. Soon afterwards, Aboriginal people sought refuge in Rockhampton from the violence wrought on them by the NMP; a testimony to the violent ethos of the service as it carried out ‘dispersals’ in the surrounding countryside. His project will investigate the archaeology of the NMP camps at Rockhampton and Kabra and other sites in central Queensland and draw on historical records and interviews with descendants of indigenous people to discover through the lens of these methodologies a unique picture of events beyond that provided by previous historical studies.

Why He’s Excited About the Project

Donald thinks this project provides an exciting opportunity to share the outcomes of its investigations with the Aboriginal people with whom he works so they can investigate their own history to better understand the events that have shaped their lives. This research promises to be a productive partnership that will enrich everybody – both Donald as a cultural heritage officer and archaeologist – and the Indigenous groups who want to find out more about the stories that their parents and grandparents told them about life in colonial Queensland.



  • MA (Archaeology) University of New England


  • Australian Archaeological Association
  • Australian Society for Historical Archaeology