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Killing for country


David Marr with ‘Riverbank Frank’ Doolan in Dubbo last wee. PHOTO: Sebastian Tesoriero

David Marr was shocked to discover forebears who served with the brutal Native Police in the bloodiest years on the frontier. His book, Killing for Country is the result – a soul-searching Australian history.

Author, David Marr has written for The Sydney Morning Herald and has served as editor of The National Times, and as a reporter for Four Corners

Last Thursday he was in Dubbo, talking about his new book, Killing for Country – which came about due to a shock discovery about his ancestors.

“About four years ago I discovered that I had a forebear who was an officer in the Queensland Native Police.

“He was a professional killer of Aborigines in the 1860s, which was the bloodiest time on the Queensland frontier. I’ve been working on this story ever since and it’s turned into a big book about the frontier wars; why and how they were fought, how the Native Police were organized, and why they survived for over 60 years.”

David Marr refers to this time as the Australian War.

“Yes, it was a war,” he said. “I think the best way to put it is that Australia was conquered by a combination of settlement, violence, killing and military action, and taken together, it was a war.”

The colonisation of Australia was inevitable, according to David Marr, just as had been the case with North America, South Africa, and New Zealand. His interest lies more in the methods and the unique violence of Australia’s colonisation experience

“The way things were carried out during the Australian capaigns was unique in the Empire, for leaving absolutely nothing to the Indigenous people that were here,” he said.

“Everywhere else in the Empire, there was the reservation of land, and in North America, huge stretches of land were left for the original inhabitants, but in Australia, nothing. I’m interested in why that was.

“If you’re going to take the land of a people, then you have a duty to look after them. This was debated throughout the 19th century, and I’ve got heroes in my book, the ones who tried to find decent solutions to a difficult situation.” […]

Read more in the printed edition of The Western Herald.

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