Frederick Walker - Official Memorial

During the race to secure the overseas telegraphic terminal for Queensland, Frederick Walker was employed to survey the line from the coast to Burketown. He was an excellent bushman, knew the country and moved quickly, qualifications which were essential for the job.

Born in England about 1820, Walker came to Australia as a young man, worked as a station manager, then as Clerk of Petty Sessions at Tumut in NSW.

Two members of the Legislative Council, William Charles Wentworth and Augustus Morris, recommended him for the position of first Commandant of the Native Police. This Corps was established in response to Governor Fitzroy's suggestion that it might be used to reduce the frequent conflicts between Aborigines and colonists beyond the settled districts.

Walker's reputation as Commandant was one of rigid adherence to the book and carrying out the law with due process. This displeased those who felt the Corps should shoot first and ask questions later. His indiscretions as a heavy and indiscriminate drinker and his appearance at a Board of Inquiry into allegations against him in Brisbane, so drunk that he could not recognise his chief accuser, did not advance his career.

The result was dismissal from the Corps. So he raised a troop of Aboriginal mercenaries who carried out the work of the N.M.P. in a private capacity. This illegal force was disbanded by the Government and Walker then took over the management of a property on the Comet River. From there he wrote frequent letters of complaint about what he regarded as the needless killing of Aborigines.

In 1861 he was employed to lead one of the Burke and Wills search parties.

After following their tracks until rain had obliterated them, Walker passed the present site of Marathon Station, where Walkers Creek is named for him.

Walker arrived at the base camp, established on the Albert by Captain Norman, and used by various Burke and Wills searchers, on December 17, 1861.

He agreed to meet Norman at the Flinders River where he (Walker) had crossed Burke and Wills' tracks. But Norman was too slow in getting there; Walker the fast mover, had done his job and ever impatient, moved on with his party of ex-Native Troopers. Norman spent a fruitless fortnight waiting for men who were already well on the way back to Rockhampton.

On August 9, 1864, the Legislative Assembly of Queensland passed a motion thanking Walker for his services as an explorer in Northern Australia and in 1866, W. J. Cracknell, Superintendent of Electric Telegraph advised: '... Mr F. Walker with a well equipped party consisting of four Europeans and four Aboriginal Assistants left Rockhampton in the l 9th ultimo (March) for Bowen, enroute for the Albert and Gulf shores to thoroughly explore and survey the country ... to discover the most eligible route. '

He arrived in Burketown at the height of the fever, his job completed, and began the return journey on November 1866, unwell but determined to continue. At that point the Expedition's log reads: '... About dinner time observing a great change for the worst, they gave him a drop of sal volatile and a gentleman was requested to come from the station to see him ... he did not think that Mr Walker would live throughout the day ... He died at noon and was buried on the evening of the same day.'

The place of Frederick Walker's grave was forgotten and remained a mystery until Mr Walter Camp of Floraville discovered it in 1979, after many years of searching.

This Memorial is close to where he died. It was dedicated on May 27, 1982, by Assistant Commissioner of Police, Noel Creevey in the presence of the people and Council of Burke Shire.