Frontier Justice: A History of the Gulf Country to 1900

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University of Queensland Press, Feb 1, 2005 - History - 316 pages
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“Frontier Justice is a very powerful and important book. It appears at a particularly significant time given the intense current debate about Aboriginal history. It is essential reading for anyone with an interest in the story of the Australian frontier.” Professor Henry Reynolds A challenging and illuminating history, Frontier Justice brings a fresh perspective to the Northern Territory’s remarkable frontier era. For the newcomer, the Gulf country—from the Queensland border to the overland telegraph line, and from the Barkly Tableland to the Roper River—was a harsh and in places impassable wilderness. To explorers like Leichhardt, it promised discovery, and to bold adventurers like the overlanders and pastoralists, a new start. For prospectors in their hundreds, it was a gateway to the riches of the Kimberley goldfields. To the 2,500 Aboriginal inhabitants, it was their physical and spiritual home. From the 1870s, with the opening of the Coast Track, cattlemen eager to lay claim to vast tracts of station land brought cattle in massive numbers and destruction to precious lagoons and fragile terrain. Black and white conflict escalated into unfettered violence and retaliation that would extend into the next century, displacing, and in some areas destroying, the original inhabitants. The vivid characters who people this meticulously researched and compelling history are indelibly etched from diaries and letters, archival records and eyewitness accounts. Included are maps with original place names, and previously unpublished photographs and illustrations. “A commanding study of race relations in the remote Gulf country. Tony Roberts uncovers compelling evidence of a litany of violence across some forty-odd years of rough borderlands dispossession in an encompassing, powerful and disturbing history.” Professor Raymond Evans

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List of Illustrations
In the Steps of the Pioneers
A Most Dangerous Place
Birth and Decline of Borroloola
The Pastoral Frontier
Lifting the Veil
Roper Country
McArthur River Station
The Gulf Coast
The Barkly
Border Country
European Deaths from Misadventure

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About the author (2005)

Tony Roberts, born in l945, began his career with the Australian Taxation Office in Adelaide. In 1978 he joined the Department of Aboriginal Affairs in Canberra where he specialised in legislation relating to Northern Territory land issues, working as an advisor to successive ministers. For the past forty years he has travelled widely through the remote Australian outback. He received a Northern Territory History Award in l997. Now retired, he is completing the sequel to Frontier Justice which examines the period to 1950.

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