On 28 October 2011, Dr David Andrew Roberts, Senior Lecturer in History at the University of New England, gave a research seminar titled "Resurrecting Thunderbolt: History, Fiction and Politics in an Age of Confusion". The seminar is the result of research undertaken by Dr Roberts and myself into the recent allegations of state censorship of documents concerning the fatal capture of Thunderbolt in 1870. The full seminar is now accessible via podcast, with a brief extract shown below:
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.
The UNE School of Humanities continues to make many of its seminars available to the public via podcasts. Click here to view the range of seminars available.
Link to Resurrecting Thunderbolt Podcast