Cowboys and Indians, does that mean anything anymore? As a movie genre, it portrayed the white Anglo male as a hero, who sought to assert his authority over nature and all that inhabited it: Indians, rivers, mountains, animals, droughts, floods and gunmen. Were there any Cowboys and Indians in Australia’s colonial past? Perhaps there were similarities. The white man took up the challenge of spreading the gospel and western technology so that he could convert the waste lands of Australia into an agrarian paradise where truth, justice and freedom prevailed against the benighted wilderness that stood menacingly at the farm gate. Did the heroic struggle of taming that wilderness for white settlers bring prosperity and civilisation to this vast land of primordial jungle and ignorance? Is there anything of value in the history of the settlement of Australia or was it just a tawdry bunch of colonial louts and new chums wandering the outback rootin, tootin and shootin?
This book looks at a series of tragedies from the colonial past which have become lost symbols of heroism and fortitude. These tragedies were the result of crimes committed against defenceless white settlers. These tragic events should mean more than they do in the fabric of our national heritage but because Australia is such a vast land with so few people and even less national cohesion, they remain forever sideshows in cringe alley.