“A day where we acknowledge our shared history”

shared history

Pauline Hanson tweeted this week that January 26 should remain as Australia Day. “A day where we acknowledge our shared history.”

In that spirit, we share some Australian history.

Content Warning: This article contains confronting and disturbing details of murder and child sexual assault. 

On February 2, 1874, the Sydney Morning Herald printed a letter from Charles Gilbert Heydon. Later Attorney-General of NSW and an acting judge of the NSW Supreme Court, Charles also served as President of the Court of Industrial Arbitration post-federation.

But in 1874, Charles Gilbert Heydon was simply a concerned citizen who wanted his fellow colonists to read and consider some of Australia’s recent shared history. He told readers of his experiences during an 1872 visit to Cardwell, then Queensland’s northernmost township.

Letter from C G Heydon to SMH, February 2, 1874.

“I heard white men talk openly of slaughtering whole camps, not only men but women and children.

“They would defend it thus: the g*ns were as bad as the men and the p*ccaninnies would die of starvation if not also put out of the way [murdered].”

A little boy and girl had been saved…

“A few days before our arrival, an attack had been made [by the police] on the blacks at Hinchinbrook Island. A tribe had been massacred but for some reason, a little boy and girl had been saved.

“The little girl (she seemed about six or seven) was given to one of the police to be taken care of.

“The first night he had her at the police camp, he violated her in sight of his fellows.

“When this became known, it was mentioned among the Cardwellians as rather a good joke.

“What was she but a black after all, and who cared what happened to a n*gger?”

Snipe shooting

“Indeed, an officer of police who should be lukewarm in the destruction of the blacks would become very unpopular. When a squatter has had some cattle speared, or fears that he may have some speared, he sends for the native police; he does not expect the sub-inspector to sit in judgment, but to proceed at once to execution.

“Public opinion in North Queensland calls for blood and yet more blood. Private persons go out to kill blacks, and call it ‘snipe shooting’.

Awkward words are always avoided, you will notice.

“‘Shooting a snipe’ sounds better than ‘murdering a man’.

“But the blacks are never called men and women and children. Myalls, n*ggers, g*ns, and p*ccaninnies seem further removed from humanity.

“The convenient phrase (used by every sub-inspector in his report after attacking a camp) — ‘We dispersed them in the usual manner’— means, in plain English, ‘We shot and tomahawked many men and women, killed all the little children, and left the lot to be eaten by the native dogs’.”

More shared history:

Rough on Rats: the real history of colonial Australia.

For the latest LGBTIQA+ Sister Girl and Brother Boy news, entertainment, community stories in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.


Destiny Rogers

Destiny Rogers embarked on her career in the media industry immediately after high school, initially joining Mirror News, which later evolved into News Ltd. She fondly recalls editing Ian Byford's 'Passing Glances: A History of Gay Cairns' as one of her most fulfilling projects. Additionally, Destiny co-researched and co-wrote 'The Queen's Ball', chronicling the history of the world's longest-running continuous queer event. Her investigative work on the history of Australia's COON Cheese and Edward Coon culminated in the publication 'COON: More Holes than Swiss Cheese', a collaborative effort with Dr. Stephen Hagan. Destiny's journey at QNews began as a feature writer, and she was subsequently elevated to the role of Managing Editor of QNews Magazine in 2018. However, in July 2022, she decided to resign from this role to refocus on research and feature writing. For contact, please reach out at destinyr@qnews.com.au.

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