The Murder of John Francis Dowling and the Massacre of 300 Aborigines -- Paul Dillon

Your Price: $29.95

The Murder of John Francis Dowling and the Massacre of 300 Aborigines

Paul Dillon

ISBN 9781925826500

Paperback, 124 pages, $29.95

The molehills of history are often swept aside and return quickly to the dust from which they were made. Sometimes they grow into monumental mountains of historical significance and everyone even the uninformed hums a tune about it. John Francis Dowling rode out on his trusty steed from the Paroo with his black pilot beside him hoping to make a line to Mt Murchison Station on the Darling. The country was dry and drought had set in. What did he have to fear, only fear itself? He was a bushman. The sun rose gently from the east, southward was his bearing. The morning was cool and all seemed fair and still. Onwards they went and on the fourth day he wrote his log up only to say the blacks could tell him "no more about the springs." He was lost. He never returned. Dowling was found murdered by the blacks. His trusty guide in a moment of madness struck him about his head and crushed his skull and then decamped. How many times must this situation have repeated itself during the early settlement of Australia, no one knows? Arising out of this small tragedy, 300 Aborigines were said to have been massacred by the whites.

This book is an attempt to tell that story as best one can with the information that still exists. It’s a simple story but the problem nowadays is by what yard stick should it be told. Should we see it as the loss of a pioneer attempting to settle the Australian outback, attempting to advance Australia. Or is the real story the relentless march of the white man’s livestock trampling the flora and fauna and encroaching on koori country. Who should come first the wool or the environment? John Dowling had a job to do. He never expected to be killed in carrying out the ambitions and aspirations of the white citizens of Queensland.  On the other hand, the intrusion of foreign squatters onto the fields and streams of the outback has left a lasting trail of regret in the minds of some.

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