The Kiama Ghost: A Timeline.
Hello everyone. I've lurked here for a while, and I've decided to finally try my hand at a timeline. It might be a little slow to start with, but basically I decided to try for an Australian timeline with a great deal more social unrest and internal tension than OTL.
In 1868, the second son of Victoria was shot whilst touring the Australian colonies. He recovered quickly. This timeline does not posit his death, just a worse injury that makes him look as if he will die.
This will give fuel to the machinations of an ambitious young politician, Henry Parkes. In our timeline, he's known as The Father of Federaton, the man who made possible a united Australia. But his career was forever blemished by his abortive attempt to stir up anti-catholic sentiment following the shooting of the Prince, which backfired badly. His failure to produce evidence of a conspiracy was a tremendous political embarrassment, and the phantom Fenians he warned of became known as "The Kiama Ghost" after the place where he gave his speeches promising that Irish terrorists were shortly to embark on a campaign of destruction.
Within months, it became apparent that Australia was being distinctively unterrorized. The Kiama Ghost was brought up as a term of mockery for the rest of his career.
In this timeline, the Kiama Ghost will haunt far more people than just Henry Parkes...
THE KIAMA GHOST
Let all citizens of these far flung colonies know that however far we are from our Queen, we have her attention and devotion. The second son of our gracious monarch, Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh is to visit these shores, and indeed has already departed from the sceptred isle. We therefore have no time to spend in disunity; let us come together as one people in a spirit of loyalty to the crown and that quality of civilisation that it represents...
Sydney Morning Herald, September 28th, 1867
‘The Prince arrived in South Australia in October of 1867. Adelaide greeted him enthusiastically and Alfred spent a fortnight in the city without incident. He is reported to have remarked upon the piety of the South Australians and their obvious love for the Empire. In later years, this was to be seized upon by later leaders who were to dub Adelaide ‘The Most Loyal City.’
The Prince’s visit to Melbourne in November, however, was greeted by a foretaste of the violence that was to mark royal visits to the Antipodes until the 1960s.
Jonathan George Hawkins, Southern Sectarianism: Religion and the Australasian Conflict, Melbourne, Vic., Melbourne University Press, 1987, p.102.
‘Melbourne’s Protestant Hall was always a symbol of tension in a city that then and now had a large population of Catholics. But when it was decorated with scenes depicting the Battle of the Boyne, at a time when the streets were thronged with people eager to greet the Duke of Edinburgh the tension became anything but symbolic. A large crowd of Catholics gathered around the hall throwing stones at the display, and tragedy occurred when an unknown person fired into the crowd from the hall. A young boy was killed. Though the crowd dispersed, a second riot occurred several days later when the Prince cancelled his attendance at a feast on the banks of the Yarra for fear of overcrowding. 40 000 people had shown up at an event where only 10 000 were expected; denied the sight of the Prince they overturned the tables and tore down the pavilions of the dignitaries. Luckily no one was hurt, but the tour’s bad luck in Victoria continued.
A second riot occurred in Geelong, again due to overcrowding. In Bendigo, three children burned to death in a fireworks accident at the official welcome for Alfred, and when he resumed the programme after three days of morning, Bendigo Town (The Alfred!) Hall burnt down three days later after the patriotic decorations were set alight by the new gas lamps. A sailor was decapitated by a cannon during an attempted gun salute at Flemington Racecourse back in Melbourne, and letters indicate that the Prince was heartily relieved to leave Victoria.
Commentators in New South Wales had watched with smugness; they were sure that nothing could go wrong in their colony.’
Sandra Raskopolous, The Kiama Ghost, Sydney, NSW, Lawson University Press, 1998 p. 87.
So far, at all events, we may congratulate ourselves that the royal visit has been marked by no incident distressing to anybody. All things being taken into consideration our freedom from accident has been most remarkable. No offensive display was made by any body of men. The utmost good humour prevailed. Indeed, the police report shows that the city was more peaceable than ordinary … of one thing we are quite sure, that there is not a man of any creed or nationality on earth who does not wish the Duke of Edinburgh a pleasant stay here and a safe voyage home.
Freeman’s Journal, (Roman Catholic Newspaper, Sydney,) 25 January 1868
‘Murder and Treason! The Prince today lies comatose, most terribly wounded after his cowardly assailant shot him in the back. The Government has appealed for calm, but it the position of this paper that this a time for citizens to feel anger! Anger that one of our own would do such a thing! We ask the Police: Who was this criminal?’
Sydney Morning Herald, 13th March, 1868.
‘The prayer which was fervently uttered by thousands of our countrymen on their learning of the sad affair was “Pray, God, that he is not an Irishman”’. Should he be so, then Irishmen must bow their heads in sorrow, and confess that the greatest reproach which has ever been cast on them, the deepest shame that has ever been coupled with the name of our people, has been attached to us here in the country where we have been so free and prosperous’
Freeman’s Journal, 14 March 1868
‘Assassinations have often changed history; but perhaps few successful murders have had as much influence on a nation as the failed attempt to kill the Duke of Edinburgh on 12 March 1868. The Prince was at a charity picnic to raise funds for a sailor’s home in Clontarf outside Sydney. A young Irishman named Henry James O’Farrell, fresh from a lunatic asylum, approached the Prince from behind with a revolver in his hand and fired two bullets into his back. With two bullets lodged in his torso, the Prince lost consciousness rapidly. He was carried away while O’Farrell was almost lynched.
The Prince recovered. Australian society did not.’
Raskopolous, The Kiama Ghost, p. 119.
‘I’m a Fenian! God Save Ireland!’
Henry James O’Farrell, statement to police. March 13th, 1868.
‘For Australia it was a tragedy. For Henry Parkes, it was an opportunity.’
Recollections of Alfred Deakin, Melbourne, Vic, Dominion Press, 1912, p.128.
“All nations have their founding myths, of course. The Americans speak of Washington and the Fourth of July, and our British forebears of the Magna Carta. Our Canadian cousins have 1812, and their own fathers of confederation who did their great work just a year before the beginning of our national tragedy. All of these myths were subject to debate. People argued, then and now over how to see the great events of their past and what they meant for the present . What they really were quarrelling about was identity. Who they were. Who they wanted to be. What made them Americans, Canadians, British or French.
But as we look back at the final decades of the last century, at a time when so many nations young and old were trying to create a sense of their own self, it is obvious that only in one outpost of the white race did the quarrel lead to bloodshed. It was not the noble cause of fighting slavery that split the Antipodes; nor was it some ideal of freedom. It was uncertainty and fear. We wanted to be a nation, but we were afraid of what that nation might be like; and only now, well into the twentieth century have we begun to step back from those terrible extremes of emotion that laid the foundations of this country.“
H.V Evatt, From Bligh to the Bathurst Strike: Social Unrest in Australasia, 1800 to the present day.
‘Australia’s plans to join the Pacific Dollar have met an unexpected setback today, over the proposals for the design of the country’s new bank notes. While nations on the Pacific dollar all use the same artwork on one side of their bills, they have the right to choose national symbols for the other face of the money they mint. The Australian designs celebrate cultural figures; Science-fiction author, press baron and social activist Julius Vogel for the $5 note and scientist Howard Florey on the $10 note. But the plan to put reactionary writer and politician Andrew Patterson on the $10 note has sparked protests from leftwing groups. The Union of Australian Labourers released a statement that good poetry does not clean Patterson of the taint of Parkist, right-wing bigotry...
Pulitzer News Wire, August 18, 2010
“There are those who say that the tragedy of these colonies has come from the fear of change. Kelly claimed that he was driven to murder and steal from the innocent by the actions of the government. But you fight injustice through legal redress, not with a suit of armour.
The party of Labour says that their unions want a fairer life. Then they should work to earn it!
The Irish say they are treated with contempt? Well, why not? Show me the law which stops them from voting! Show me the law that stops them practicing their worship of an old man in Italy. Show me the law which stops them demonstrating in these very streets on behalf of traitors on their cold little island. The law gives them rights, but only a change in their way of life will gain them respect.
No, the great fight has been between two futures. Those of us who settled this mighty land and pushed back its boundaries, who made pasture of the plains and drove the savage from his squalor have tried to forge a country with the vibrant spirit of the New World and the traditions of the Old. Respect for the crown and her sovereign institutions, adherence to a faith freed from Roman superstitions or spiritual cowardice, a drive to take our place in the vanguard of civilisation and the Empire. These are our tenets, these are the ideas at the heart of what it should mean to be an Australian.
And against us we again see the old and the new brought together; from the far side of the world they have brought the ancient struggle of Celt against Saxon, of Popery against faith, of criminality against those who bring law to an empty land. And they have added to these the agitations of the poor and lazy against the shop owner and honest workman, of the barbarian peoples incognisant of their own coming extinction.
And having lost our servant, the defender of this new land from those who would poison it before it has had a chance to grow, we have to take on the burden of Henry Parkes for ourselves. We must stand tall, against those who would destroy this land. We must stand tall against the Maori, the Fenian and the Anarchist. Remember Albany! Honour Sir Henry! And live your life for Australia and the Queen!”
- Andrew Barton Patterson, Speech on the first anniversary of Sir Henry Parkes’ death, 1898.
It is, of course, ridiculous to suppose that anyone from OTL could be born after the point of departure. Speaking for myself, however, while I understand that as an abstract principal this makes timelines more accurate, I find that having OTL figures continue to appear feels more like history. They belong to our past, so why not another? There is also the added bonus of getting to put them in situations completely removed from our expectations of them. I won’t say that I plan to have Ernest Hemingway as a noted pacifist and ballet aficionado, but it’s nice to have the option.
 POD: O’Farrell gets a second shot.
Last edited by SenatorChickpea; May 14th, 2010 at 11:29 AM..
Well, that's certainly the intention of Parkes and co. There are some fascinating figures in late nineteenth century Australia, but like most historical figures that have been hijacked by nationalists its easy to lose sight of their actual personalities.
Parkes, for example. A very clever man, and he had genuine vision. He also seems to have been a real bastard, and when I came across this little incident- his attempt at starting McCarthyism a good eighty years in advance- I thought it was worth taking a look at.
Update two comes in a few days, when I've dealt with a 21st party for a friend and a few other things. Hopefully as we venture into the actual alternate history I can spin out a decent tale of the splitting of colonial fault lines.