Constructing a Life on the Northern Frontier: E.A.C. Olive of Cooktown
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Repeated 'boom and bust' phenomena have characterised the history of Queensland as a colony and state. In terms of infrastructure and cultural institutions, this has led to significant discontinuities: vital strategic centres of colonial power, such as Cooktown, now languish in relative obscurity and the role of their inhabitants as authors and agents of colonialism receives little attention. This study investigates the life of an early inhabitant of Cooktown, E.A.C. Olive, in the context of his location on Australia's northern frontier. The first part of this paper looks at Cooktown's establishment as a northern foothold of colonial rule; the second considers E.A.C. Olive's public life as a businessman on the northern frontier; the third discusses Olive's domestic life; and the fourth investigates his naturalist pursuits. Analysis of E.A.C. Olive's commercial, domestic and scientific activities reveals that he and his family were dependent in complex, ongoing and unacknowledged ways on Aboriginal people in the period following the frontier wars, when the colony of Queensland was reinforcing its territorial conquests.
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