Dark Tales from the Long River
Publisher: Fremantle Press
Dark Tales from the Long River is series of compelling but sobering tales from Australia’s Gascoyne region in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Historian and educator David Price follows the life of Irish-born Charles D.V. Foss who, in 1882, was appointed as an itinerant magistrate, charged with bringing law and order across the vast pastoral lands through which the Gascoyne River flowed. These true crime stories are shocking, sometimes disturbing, and depict an era when colonial Australian laws served to maintain order rather than to secure justice.
Operating from a base in Carnarvon, Foss held his magistrate position for 33 years (retiring in 1915). Foss left a legacy of presiding over cases starring a gallery of cheats, drunks, rapists, and murderers, as well as intense and aggressive persecution of migrants and Aboriginal people. David Price effectively presents a wide range of contemporaneous accounts of life in the Gascoyne region during this period, including records and newspaper articles, to bring light not only to Foss as an individual but also the colonial society in the region at large.
Dark Tales from the Long River offers an important and accessible record of social history and a window into a period of Western Australian history that is still struggling into the light.