On 18 March 2010 the New South Wales Legislative Council demanded the NSW Governor
release allegedly censored documents relating to the death of the celebrated bushranger,
'Captain Thunderbolt', who was shot dead by police at Uralla in May 1870. Remarkably, the
renewed interest in this 140-year-old episode from the colonial past was motivated by claims
made in a self-published novel. Scourge of the Ranges (2009) is an historical fiction that
proposes that the colonial authorities shot the wrong man in 1870 and then engaged in a
high-level conspiracy to conceal this from the public. More seriously, the authors allege that
the conspiracy is enduring, that the NSW government actively maintains a strict censorship
over secret documents that reveal ‘the shabbiest official cover-up in our sad, inauspicious
history’. While it is not unusual for historical literature to sensationalise itself on the basis of
newly discovered ‘facts’, real or imagined, the use of the powers of the Legislative Council to
sanction and validate such serious claims warrants a reasoned response, particularly as far
as they reflect on the nature and integrity of governance and state record keeping in NSW.
Who says that history is dead and buried? Keeping watching this blog as more will be revealed soon ...