Voices in Ink

Thomas Griffin’s Fall is the story, told in serial, of one of Australia’s most sensational murders––that of the first Queensland police officers killed on duty.

Gold Escort troopers Patrick Cahill and John Power were drugged, robbed, and shot dead by their commanding officer, Police Magistrate and Gold Commissioner Thomas Griffin, in the bush between Rockhampton and Clermont in November 1867.

We are retelling this dramatic story in the 150th anniversary, using intricate research to unfold the narrative with creative non-fiction and archival documents.

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Two key characters in Thomas Griffin’s Fall were only a few years old when the events took place––Rockhampton’s local newspapers, the ‘Morning Bulletin’ (1861) and the ‘Northern Argus’ (1865).

Like the other characters, they had different personalities and distinctive voices. Their manners of speech will seem quaint to readers 150 years later, because they both spoke the journalistic language typical to their own era––literary, pretentious, and verbose––but they each saw the world from their own unique perspective.

Also in common with some of the story’s other characters, they hated each other with vehement passion. The continuing bitterness between their proprietors––Arthur Bourcicault and William Buzacott––was expressed in high-flown language and sharpened insults rather than with fists or weapons. These personal animosities and professional antagonisms resulted in local events and people being written about in dramatically diverse ways.

Readers will come to recognise the individual styles with which the ‘Argus’ and the ‘Bulletin’ reported and editorialised the story of Thomas Griffin’s Fall, and come to learn which of them became intimately involved in one of the most dramatic episodes in the whole narrative.