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Queensland’s lost history: 1800s Indigenous police database launched at museum

Archaeologists have pieced together thousands of documents and artefacts to uncover the history of the Native Mounted Police in Queensland.

The archive – the Frontier Conflict and the Native Mounted Police in Queensland Database – is the result of a four-year project funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC) and undertaken by University of Southern Queensland (USQ), Flinders University, The University of Notre Dame, James Cook University and Northern Archaeology Consultancies.

It was launched at Queensland Museum yesterday (December 9) and includes more than 11,000 documents about 200 Native Mounted Police camps, 12,000 artefacts, 400 officers, 850 troopers and 1800 frontier conflict events across Queensland through the 19th century.

Together, they tell the story of how the Indigenous and European early police force operated in Queensland before it became a state.

USQ’s Professor Bryce Barker was part of an archaeological team that retraced the lives of remote Australia’s Native Mounted Police by locating some of the regular campsites in some of Queensland’s most remote locations during colonial times.

Professor Barker said the project uncovered important history, demonstrating the real history of the ‘settlement’ of Queensland.

“The fact that a paramilitary force had to be maintained in Queensland for this period is testimony to the scale of resistance by Aboriginal people, to the theft of their land,” Professor Barker said.

The launch ceremony at the Queensland Museum in Brisbane featured a talk by Dr Fiona Foley, a renowned Badtjala artist from Fraser Island who has created numerous artworks dealing with frontier conflict.

The database is accessible to the public here.

royal coin covered in dirt
Professor Barker said the project uncovered important history, demonstrating the real history of the ‘settlement’ of Queensland.