A rare eyewitness account of an 1840s attack on a group of Indigenous men, women and children by white squatters on Queensland’s Darling Downs has been acquired by the National Library of Australia.
Believed to be the only one of its kind, the pencil drawing by Thomas John Domville Taylor was in a larger scrapbook compiled by his step-mother Patty Ffoulkes.
Senior Curator at the National Library, Dr Marie-Louise Ayres, said the recent acquisition was a significant one for the Library because the drawing could be linked to the aftermath of an historic event – the 1843 Battle of One Tree Hill on the road from Moreton Bay to the Darling Downs – a dispute which began after traditional landowners blocked key supply routes to the Darling Downs.
The drawing depicts 11 squatters firing on a group of 25 Indigenous people of whom three appear to have been shot.
“Domville Taylor’s documented presence in the precise area of battle and his own role as a squatter, together with the ‘presence’ of the drawing, strongly suggest it is an eyewitness account of the attack,” Dr Ayres said. “Eyewitness accounts of attacks by white settlers on Indigenous people are extremely rare.”
Dr Ayres said the acquisition complemented the Library’s existing collection because it fills a gap in visual documentation of conflict between Indigenous people and European settlers. She said while the Indigenous group of 25 was larger than that of the white group, it was clear from the image that numbers were no match for the gun.
“From this point of view, the drawing shows the inevitable tragedy of dispossession unfolding across the Downs – and it also tells the story of ‘war’ between the traditional owners and the new squatters.”
The scrapbook also features five other drawings, including homestead scenes, a corroborree and a drawing of Domville Taylor’s servant, Peter Boombiburra.
Dr Ayres is available for interview
High-res images of the drawing are available to the media.
Sally Hopman, Media Liaison Manager, 02 6262 1704 or 0401 226 697