The author, Patrick Collins, is a psychologist whose maternal great-grandparents, Richard and
Mary Burke, established stations on the Culgoa and Paroo Rivers in the late
Nineteenth Century. During the 1990's his son Mitch Collins was the publican
at Muckadilla. These family connections and recent developments in
Australian history, motivated Patrick to learn the truth about white
settlement in Southern Queensland and Northern NSW. 'Goodbye Bussamarai' is a
narrative compiled primarily from original documents. The text concentrates
on the late 1840's and early 1850's. The land involved lies between the
present day towns of Goondiwindi, Condamine, Miles, Roma, Mitchell, Surat
and St George.
The story is not a politically correct
bashing of white people. However, it does concentrate on how a few overly
competitive squatters dealt with equally competitive Aborigines, who did not
want to lose their land. The tools of the squatters were a small number of
ruthless station-hands, who did whatever they had to do to survive. This
soon led to the arrival of Frederick Walker's Native Police: Aboriginal
troopers led by white officers. This force was intended to bring peace to
the frontiers but it soon became another, but more potent tool of the
squatters and their henchmen.
Bussamarai, a dynamic Aboriginal leader from
the Balonne, unified Aboriginal resistance. He and his associates attacked
stations on the Macintyre, Condamine and the Balonne Rivers. Stations on
tributaries such as the Weir, Dulacca and Muckadilla were equally at risk.
Concerted responses by the Native Police, often with station-hands and
squatters, resulted in massacres on the Macintyre, Yuleba and Balonne.
Bussamarai, because of his wide-ranging influence, soon became a target of
the Native Police who killed him by Yalebone Creek. Surprisingly, while few
white people felt safe from the marauding Mandandanji, Bigambul and
Barunggam people, a lone white settler Paddy McEnroe survived as the most
isolated white settler in Southern Queensland.
'Goodbye Bussamarai' is not a happy story but
it is the truth, as best as it can now be discovered. Fortunately Hovenden
Hely, who searched for Leichhardt in 1852, noted what was happening and
ensured key elements were later publicised. He is proof that some white
people really did care for the Aborigines who suffered the worst outcomes of