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"Ducie River 1893/Joe Flick " Topic

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19th Century

276 hits since 14 Mar 2019
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Henry Martini14 Mar 2019 5:42 p.m. PST

I came across an online reference to an 1893 'massacre' on Cape York in Queensland, and managed to track down on Trove a couple of newspaper accounts of a Native Police expedition following up the murder of two white men, Conroy and Rowe, by local tribesmen. Surprisingly, the victims of the 'massacre' turned out to be the Native Police troopers, who left their commanding officer and another white man in their boat to pursue their quarry, only to lose five men killed, with the remaining five escaping and turning up some days later. The officer and his companion were forced to sail away after the victorious warriors showered their boat with spears from the shore.

Because it wasn't witnessed by a white man, and because even if a report was obtained from the surviving troopers it's since been lost or destroyed, no written account of the NMP defeat exists.

Also on Trove are detailed accounts of the saga of Joe Flick, a 26 year-old part-Aboriginal stockman who was involved in a series of violent encounters in 1889 during which he escaped from police custody twice and engaged in a number of shoot-outs at and around Lawn Hill station in Queensland that resulted in his own death and those of a white police constable and an NMP trooper and the wounding of pastoralist Frank Hann.

Flick was labelled a bushranger by some contemporary commentators, but his actions hardly justify the appellation.

While all this was happening Hann was in conflict with local clans over cattle spearing. In fact, the shoot-out in which he was wounded occurred immediately after he'd returned from a pursuit of tribesmen. The events were completely unconnected.

Henry Martini17 Mar 2019 5:52 p.m. PST

The Ducie River expedition wasn't the only occasion on which the NMP swapped its horses for a boat/boats. For instance, there were the operations on Fraser Island and other islands. Patrols also often dismounted when the terrain was too rough for horses.

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