Historical graffiti in northern Australia: Evidence of European settlement and society in the Selwyn Range of northwest Queensland

22nd January 2014

Detailed view of the balding man in a buttoned jacket image (published in Australian Archaeology 43:2).

Detailed view of the balding man in a buttoned jacket image (published in Australian Archaeology 43:2).

Hilary P.M. Winchester, Iain Davidson and David R. O’Brien

Introduction*

European graffiti dated 1905, including names, initials, and obscene drawings and verse, have been found interspersed with Aboriginal engravings in a sandstone rockshelter near the Mount Elliott copper mine in northwest Queensland (Fig. 1). These graffiti enrich our knowledge of both the town and the people of the area. The township of Selwyn developed after the opening of the Mount Elliott smelter in 1910, and the first official record of it occurs in the Queensland Towns Directory in 1911. However, the graffiti are indicative of European settlement in Selwyn-Mount Elliott some years prior to this. Some of the names and initials in the graffiti can be traced through historical records such as the state electoral rolls, which provide details of age, occupation and mobility. Furthermore, the drawings and verse provide evidence, albeit indicative and tentative, of the state of gender, sexual and ethnic relations in the Australian pioneer fringe environment. This study demonstrates the value of historical graffiti in reconstructing aspects of early European settlement.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Winchester, H.P.M., I. Davidson and D.R. O'Brien
Historical graffiti in northern Australia: Evidence of European settlement and society in the Selwyn Range of northwest Queensland
December 1996
43
1–7
Article
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