Abstracts – JRAHS Volume 102 Part 1 June 2016

Songs of the Sudan War: patriotism, militarism and Australian national identity

Mark Pinner

The dispatching of a contingent of troops from the British colony of New South Wales to aid the British in their war against the Mahdi Army in the Sudan was a defining moment in the history of pre-Federation Australia. The first of many, this small expeditionary force was the first in the pay of an Australian Colonial Government to leave our shores and aid in the machinations of Empire. A collection of autonomous British colonies, Australia was, in the eyes of many from both within and without, far from being a mature nation that automatically deserved its place within the British Empire. She was yet to be proven in that toughest of tests, that of shedding the blood of her sons in the service of Empire. The offer of troops to the mother country, in her hour of need, provided this somewhat-macabre opportunity to shed the blood of her sons, and prove that national ambition was not misplaced. The locally published song sheets of the Sudan War period provide us with valuable historical snapshot of some of the prevailing attitudes of Australian society at the time, especially in regard to patriotism, and loyalty to empire; but also in regard to an emerging Australian national character, or identity, with militarism as a central theme, a tendency that continues to today.

From Happiness to Havoc. The Aboriginal Bruny Islanders before Settlement by the British, as witnessed by French Explorers, 1792-1802

Colin Dyer

French explorers paid these visits to Bruny Island before the British settlement of Tasmania. Two were made by Bruny d’Entrecasteaux, in 1792 and 1793, and one by Nicolas Baudin in 1802. An analysis of the personal journals of these captains and their officers reveals that relations between the French and the Aboriginal people were “cheerful” and “joyful” and presented “the image of a happiness that has never been disturbed”. The French also found their hosts to be “friendly” and “trusting” and “living in great harmony with one another”. Some thirty years after British settlement these original inhabitants had virtually disappeared.

International airliner on the plumpton of Albury Racecourse: the KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Douglas DC-2 Uiver

Noel Jackling and Doug Royal

An astonished world focused on the feat of one of the first all-metal aircraft of the 1930s, the KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Douglas DC-2 Uiver, in taking first prize in the handicap section and second place in the speed section of the London to Melbourne MacRobertson International Centenary Air Race despite an emergency landing in Albury. The Uiver’s emergency landing and reliability over long distance served to highlight the superiority of all-metal semi-monocoque monoplane construction for long distance transport aircraft. Remarkably, the design principles underlying the construction of the Uiver and earlier all-metal semi-monocoque monoplanes have continued to be used in the design of subsequent passenger airliners up to and including modern-day passenger airliners. None of this would have eventuated at that time but for the innovative and timely efforts of Albury townsfolk. A reconstruction of what happened on the Albury racecourse between the daylight hours of 5:18 a.m. and 9:55 a.m. through the juxtaposition of contemporary photographs with the written accounts of pilots Parmentier and Moll, passenger Rasche and Border Morning Mail sub-editor Mott, reveals how close the Uiver’s flight came to failure, and how the townsfolk from Albury made possible the Uiver’s completion of the race.

‘A power in the bush: the rabbit industry in south-east Australia 1870-1950’

Drew Cottle and Warwick Eather

Rabbit plagues in southern Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and eastern South Australia from the 1870s to the 1950s blighted farming and grazing but were an economic boon to workers and rural businesses. Over 20,000 trappers worked full-time in the rabbit industry and thousands more were employed in rural freezer works and by companies in the skin trade. Trappers were paid in cash on a daily basis and spent their money in hundreds of local businesses. The industry became an economic powerhouse in rural Australia and many towns and villages depended on it for their survival. Instead of poorly paid seasonal and farm work, unskilled and semi-skilled rural workers who trapped were well paid through the year. They could reside in one location instead of travelling continuously for paid work.

Revisiting the Vickery Legacy: E. F. Vickery and His Dream of a New World on the South Coast of New South Wales

Robert Carr

Set at the dawn of Australia’s fledgling federation, Frank Vickery’s dream of a new world came to a head upon the conclusion of World War I and in the wake of unprecedented industrial strife between coal miners and capitalists which had swept the country. A wealthy heir, Frank’s dream was to build – quite literally – a new settlement in Coalcliff underpinned by a vision for industrial peace and social accord. But to do this Frank would need to confront his own family’s legacy which for many epitomised the workers’ greatest foe. Revisiting the Vickery legacy, this article is a new account of the history of the Illawarra and the possibilities of Australian nationhood.

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