Highlight: Tales from Bush Graves

Title:  Tales  from Bush Graves
Author:  Anne Alloway and Roberta Morrison
Media:  paperback, 349 pages
ISBN:  9780646569246
Year:  2012
Other:  b&w photos, bibliog, indexes, stats, map
Price: $39.95 (plus $10 postage)

For this highlight, let me introduce you to a new book that has recently been published.

Tales from Bush Graves recounts the stories of 218 people who met their death in the Queensland bush. Many of them died of thirst, alone, and lost. The area takes in the Shire of Flinders, approximately 42,000 square kilometres in area, half way between Townsville on the coast, and Mount Isa to the west.

It will never be known just how many men, women, and children have died and lie buried in the bush. Many of the deaths were not registered, and they are known only because the local paper reported on them.

It was not the selector who lost his life, but usually men who had no idea how harsh the country could be, and consequently took risks by walking between stations looking for work, most times with very little water, and not much idea of where they were going. Many of the men were suffering from alcohol related problems. Most deaths were caused by fever, accidents, suicide, and murder.

One of the earliest reports of a death in the area is about 1865 when pastoralists were venturing north in search of new country to run their sheep and cattle. Thomas Briggs was alone in his tent, when Aboriginals attacked and killed him near Prairie.

The women followed their men, enduring the harsh conditions and sometimes not seeing another white woman for years. They died during child birth, usually the baby died as well.

Young children succumbed to the harsh conditions, dying of convulsions, poisoning and accidents, as well as becoming lost. Two little boys were drowned by their mother. She had become very religious, and continually read her bible. She was obviously suffering from depression and loneliness.

There is the story of Francis Hay, who committed suicide on his selection, Needlewood. His father was the 19th Earl of Erroll, and Francis held the office of Page of Honour to Her Majesty Queen Victoria. Why he came out to Australia is unknown.

There were some murders. Most of them were solved, with the help of the black trackers attached to the Native Mounted Police.

Most of the grave sites are not marked, and only vague descriptions of where the body was buried are included in the inquests. With the passing of time, many of the timber surrounds have rotted away, fires have passed over the area, and cattle have damaged the site.  Occasionally, mounds of stones are the only indication that this is a burial site.  It was only the owners of the stations who could afford to have headstones erected, usually for family members.

The stories were reconstructed from the actual inquests, and many include newspaper accounts of the day.  There are nearly one thousand indexed names and places mentioned, the book is fully referenced and also includes a bibliography.  There is also a short history of each station which has graves on site.

The price is $39.95, plus $10 postage (within Australia). Please note this is not a book that you can buy from us at Gould Genealogy, as it is only available direct from the authors.

The book is available from the authors by
Emailing chloe444@bigpond.com or
Phone (07) 5439 9919

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