Too Much Cabbage & Jesus Christ: Australia’s ‘Mission Girl’ Annie Lock

A terrific book – lively, informative, engaging. Strikes the right note of uncertainty about how we should now feel about humanitarianism such as Lock’s. – Tim Rowse, Professor Emeritus

For too long Annie Lock has been a mere footnote in Australian history. We should all be grateful to Cath Bishop, her nuanced research and beautiful prose reveals not only Annie but her many proteges, friends, and subjects. This book deserves a wide audience. – Prof Lynette Russell AM (Monash University), ARC Kathleen Fitzpatrick Laureate Fellow 2020-2025

Who was responsible for the 1928 Coniston Massacre in Central Australia where a police party killed 100 Aboriginal people? Not those who pulled the trigger, according to the Enquiry. Instead it was ‘a woman missionary living amongst naked blacks’. This was Annie Lock, the ‘whistle-blower’ who caused the Enquiry.

She believed Aboriginal lives mattered, with controversial results. This biography dives into massacres, stolen generations and the thorny problem of Aboriginal missions.

A faith missionary, Annie Lock fought with Daisy Bates, met the Duke of Gloucester and inspired R.M. Williams. She was shipwrecked in a pearling lugger, drove a buggy 200 miles across desert to escape drought, produced Christmas puddings in 40-degree heat, nursed sore-ridden children, hit headlines for supposedly being ‘Happy to Marry a Black’, and pronounced on Aboriginal culture and policy with erratic spelling but genuine conviction.

More problematically, she ‘saved’ souls, ‘rescued’ children, eroded culture and condoned Aboriginal men beating their wives.

A strident and divisive figure, Annie Lock was appealingly eccentric but horrifyingly complicit in Australia’s worst policies. Indigenous people variously called her ‘lovely’ and the provider of ‘too much cabbage and Jesus Christ’.

Catherine Bishop, an award-winning historian, lives in the Blue Mountains near Sydney with her partner and a decorative cat. When not writing, she can be found in the garden, where the weeds grow faster than words on the page. Too Much Cabbage and Jesus Christ is her fourth book and first biography.

Catherine Bishop will be presenting an RAHS Special Event in October on her new book, titled ‘A Useful Accessory’ with Too Much Cabbage and Jesus Christ. Catherine Bishop has also previously written about Annie Lock’s life and career for the RAHS’s celebration of Women’s History Month in 2020.