Abstracts – JRAHS Vol 96, Part 2 December 2010

Making Tribes? Constructing Aboriginal tribal entities in Sydney and coastal NSW from the early colonial period to the present

Michael Powell and Rex Hesline

This paper dissects the imposition on Aborigines of ‘tribal’ entities in the greater Sydney area, by analysing the historical periods of significant construction in terminology. Far from timeless, these are highly constructed entities and occasional fictions serving the preoccupations of colonial observers at particular times. Frequently these efforts were conceived in a confusion that has been visited upon the present in a legacy of names and entities. There has been a tendency to accumulate rather than distinguish such usage but by dissecting origins and the moment of terminological construction, this accumulation can be distinguished and the genesis of names understood.

The politics of convict control in colonial New South Wales -’the notorious OPQ.’ and the clandestine press

Brian Walsh

This paper explores the role of three anonymous authors in the Sydney press during the debate on convict disorder and discipline between 1832 and 1835 that followed Governor Bourke’s reduction in the power of magistrates. The identity of the authors became known as the debate progressed. They were James Webber who was a Hunter Valley landowner, William Watt who was a ticket-of-leave journalist with the Sydney Gazette, and Roger Therry who was a government official covertly commissioned by Bourke to counter Webber’s attack on the Governor. These clandestine writers played an important role in expressing factional tensions and dissent as the so-called conservatives and liberals jostled for power and position during the reshaping of the colony in its transition towards representative government.

Scottishness and Britishness in Australasia, 1875-1920

Malcolm Prentis

This article outlines, first, the nature of Scottishness, Scottish national identity and national self-consciousness at the time of high emigration to Australasia. Secondly, it argues that the differences between the level of influence of Scottishness on the two sides of the Tasman has been exaggerated. Thirdly, Scottish, British and antipodean patriotism could happily coexist in much the same way as dual identities did in Scotland. Finally, the Scots in Australasia provided a model of national identity which was free-flowing, pluralistic or multi-layered and therefore well suited to the earlier period of the evolution of antipodean national identities on both sides of the Tasman.

Playing soldiers: Sydney private school cadet corps and the Great War

Nathan Wise

During the 1900s and 1910s the growing militarism of Australian middle class society was reflected in the nature of training for private school cadet corps. Far from simply being an extra-curricular activity, the cadet corps of the private schools of Sydney presented an image of war as adventurous and exciting, and further inculcated cadets with the belief that their training was preparing them for real war. As explored in this paper, the nature of this training and was critical in the precise nature of disillusionment faced by Old Boys upon experiencing the reality of warfare during the Great War.

Loyal lieutenant or spy? Frank De Groot and the intelligence services

Andrew Moore

The name of Francis Edward (Frank) De Groot is well remembered for an iconic incident in Australian history. On 19 March 1932, dressed in army uniform and mounted on horseback, De Groot attached himself to the governor general’s entourage processing to the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. In spectacular circumstances and with his horse rearing, De Groot slashed the opening ribbon with his World War I cavalry sword, thus pre-empting Premier J.T. Lang. As he did so De Groot declared the bridge open ‘in the name of the decent and respectable citizens of New South Wales’. Filmed by Cinesound News, the incident and its unusual consequences – De Groot was briefly incarcerated in the Darlinghurst reception centre where his sanity was assessed – became invested with folkloric significance. Captain De Groot has not been forgotten. To the present day most tourism web sites relating to the Sydney Harbour Bridge mention the incident. If anything the image of the ‘man on the horse’ is overexposed

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