Police Troopers of the Outback |
Police Troopers of old were a unique breed in the early years of Australia's
colonies as they were frequently assigned to previously unexplored regions.
They became masters of survival in what has often been described as one of
the harshest and uncompromising environments in the world.
Their tasks were many and varied. They accompanied and shared their skills
with explorers, they pursued and captured horse thieves and murderers, often
placing their own lives in peril.
Burying bodies of lost travelers and drovers who had perished from exposure
or starvation was a trooper's frequent chore.
Police Troopers of the Outback, while illustrating the formation of one of
the world's oldest organised police forces, contains many stories of high
adventure, humour and heartache that all formed part of the everyday life of
the trooper. Also included are some of the unfortunate deaths on duty of
troopers such as John Charles Shirley, and other members of his party, who
died of thirst whilst searching for a man incorrectly reported as missing,
and there is the poem written by Shirley's colleague William Willshire in
honour of the brave members of that party.
A very early execution and the circumstances leading up to it are also
included, as are many of the stories taken from troopers own writings and
reminiscences, highlighting incidents within their careers that they
considered worth noting.
On a more light-hearted note copies of correspondence show the number of
letters that were required to be sent and received by a policeman simply to
have the pit of the 'long drop' toilet at a police station/residence cleaned
out without incurring considerable personal expense. Another letter, written
by Mounted Constable Cornelius Power, relates the extent of hardship and
privation to which many of these troopers willingly submitted in the course
of their duty.
Also included is a factual account of the infamous Sundown murder case of
the 1950s written by the chief investigating officer, Chas Hopkins.
Often experienced bush policemen needed the help of loyal native trackers,
but on one occasion it was a native prisoner named 'Neighbour', who at the
risk of his own life plunged into raging floodwaters to save his captor,
Mounted Constable William F. Johns, from drowning. 'Neighbour' was
consequently awarded the Albert Medal for bravery.
Edited by Jim Sykes & Allan Peters
105 B&W photos
230 x 200 mm