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Curators’ acknowledgement

“We pay our respects and dedicate the Unsettled exhibition to the people and other Beings who keep the law of this land; to the Elders and Traditional Owners of all the knowledges, places, and stories in this exhibition; and to the Ancestors and Old People for their resilience and guidance.

We advise that there are some confronting topics addressed in this exhibition, including massacres and genocide. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be advised that there may be images of people who have passed away.”

Laura McBride and Dr Mariko Smith, 2021.

Emily Caroline Creaghe's diary, 1883
Emily Caroline Creaghe's diary, 1883. Image: Supplied by State Library of New South Wales
© State Library of New South Wales

Emily Caroline Creaghe’s Diary, 1883
Loan from the State Library of New South Wales
Leather, paper, ink, pencil

The Waanyi People of the Gulf region in north-west Queensland shared stories of colonisers committing atrocities against them. The diary of Emily Caroline Creaghe vividly describes details such as the kidnapping and chaining up of Aboriginal women to tame them as workers, and the taking of body parts as grotesque trophies.

Creaghe’s diary is considered a rare insight into the journey of a white woman travelling the outback and she has been celebrated in Australian history as a trailblazer, but most telling her diary proves how the criminal behaviour of colonists, and a general lack of compassion towards Aboriginal people, was normalised.

“ We slept again outside but even then it was too hot to sleep. Mr. Bob Shadforth went to ‘Lorne Hill’ [Lawn Hill] Mr. Jack Watson’s and Mr. Frank Hann’s station about 40 miles away. Very hot, no rain. Mr. Watson has 40 pairs of blacks’ ears nailed around the walls collected during raiding parties after the loss of many cattle speared by the blacks Emily Caroline Creaghe, 8th February 1883.