Books: Pioneer police: 'Sand and Stone', by Kevin Moranby Dr Jennifer Skerritt (reviewer)News Weekly
, September 23, 2000
SAND AND STONE
by Kevin Moran
Available from Frickers Publishing
Ph: +61 (08) 9271 4575
for $96.00 for the two volume set (GST inc)Sand and Stone,
by Kevin Moran, is a two volume history of Western Australia as recorded in the journals of the pioneer police. Part one, titled Colonists and Convicts
, covers the initial settlement of the South-west, while Part Two, Pastoralists and Prospectors
deals with the period from the goldrushes to Federation.
This mammoth work has preserved and made accessible very important historical material concerning the early settlement of Western Australia. It is quite an achievement for Kevin Moran to have researched and written such a lengthy history in merely five years, and indicative of his dedication to his subject matter.
Kevin Moran has deliberately adopted a refreshingly personal approach, very straight forward and free of fashionable "interpretations," reminiscent of the classic style of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.
Consequently, he has created a valuable and comprehensive resource for historians of the future. It is very much aimed at the academic, rather than the casual reader, although there is sufficient material that almost anyone should be able to find some item of interest.
Those West Australians whose families arrived before 1900, including Aborigines, may well find ancestors featured within the pages. Fortunately, Kevin Moran has generally preserved a sympathetic portrait of both the police and their ‘customers’.
I found particularly interesting the sections recording traditional Aboriginal Law, in particular the treatment of women. Women appear to have had the status of chattels and were treated extremely poorly.
The frequent murder of women and children in Aboriginal society as "payback," an important aspect of traditional law, was recorded in Police records.
There appears to have been a certain reluctance to over-rule native traditions, and white law was seldom enforced in Aboriginal internecine strife except in urban areas. Nevertheless, there seem to have been frequent efforts to enrol Aborigines in law enforcement, and to foster inter-racial co-operation from a very early date.
The work has some very attractive illustrations. The photographs taken by the author deserve particular mention as they are clear, well composed and certainly of professional standard.
My main criticism of these volumes would be the referencing, which should be more specific in a work of this type, particularly with regard to quotations. The source of a quote should always be obvious in a historical work.
Nevertheless, Kevin Moran has accomplished an important and ambitious undertaking in the early history of Western Australia. He has preserved a vision of our history which may otherwise have disappeared. He should be commended for having the courage to follow his own instincts rather than fashionable theories, and for producing a very substantial and worthy historical work.
- Dr Skerritt is a Perth historian