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"Wild flower" – The Barbara Crawford Thompson Story

A Queensland historian has uncovered a colonial “historical mystery” that has puzzled 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 1840s.

Her story was silenced by both Australian officials and her family after Captain Owen Stanley and men from the British exploration ship HMS “Rattlesnake” rescued her off Evans Bay, near the tip of Cape York, Australia. After her return to society, Barbara disappeared from attention and for the next 160 years little of her history was known, except for her time on the island of the Prince of Wales. [Murralagh Island] living like a tribal native.

Very little was written about her childhood or her family and her journey to Australia, and finding information about anything to do with how she came to be discarded also turned out to be a near-impossible mission. Finally, the author of the book “Wildflowers” The Story of Barbara Crawford Thompson took a while [23 years] to do an in-depth study of Barbara Crawford’s past. What he found during his research has astonished not only the author, but also those associated with the writing of the book.

The book created a modern story in October 2007 when it was found in Perth [Western Australi] Library of a descendant of the oldest of the three missing girls [Mary Crawford] who explained that the two older girls had indeed been hired 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 worker and had not run away 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 published.

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