A Queensland Historian has uncovered a colonial “history mystery” that has baffled historians, Journalists, Authors and researchers for 160 years. The mystery that kept Authors writing, is that of 13-year-old Barbara Crawford Thompson’s dramatic struggle for survival on an island inhabited by headhunting cannibals during the 1840’s.
Her story was hushed up by both the Australian officials and her family after her rescue by Captain Owen Stanley and the men of the British Survey Ship, HMS “Rattlesnake” at Evans Bay near the tip of Cape York, Australia. After her return to society, Barbara disappeared from notice and during the next 160 years little was known of her story except for her time on Prince of Wales Island [Murralagh Island] living as a tribal native.
Very little was ever written about her childhood or of her family and their voyage to Australia, finding information on anything to do with how she came to be cast away also proved to be an almost impossible mission. Finally, the Author of the Book “Wildflower” The Barbara Crawford Thompson Story took time out [23 years] to do an in-depth study on Barbara Crawford’s past. What he found during his research has astounded not only the Author but also those connected with the writing of the book.
A modern day history was created by the book in October 2007 when it was found in the Perth [Western Australi] Library by a descendant of the oldest of the three missing girls [Mary Crawford] who explained that the two older girls had indeed been hired out as domestic servants in March 1843 and had gone to Albany [WA] where they had married and had twenty three children between them. This finding proved to the Author that his heroine had also been hired as a domestic and had not eloped as previously believed.
The book gained wonderful notoriety when it was discovered by the BBC’s Ray Mears Goes Walkabout Show in November 2007, just three months before the book was released.