A New Phase (February 2021)

In the past few days the Australian government has been at the negotiation table with Facebook. The result is that Facebook is now lifting the ban on “news” on their platform. As a part of this, A Guide to Australian Bushranging‘s Facebook page has been restored.

Mark Zuckerberg’s powerplay resulted in the shutdown of A Guide to Australian Bushranging on the platform, which has over 1,700 followers and has been one of the main facets of the project since 2017.

Though I had lodged a complaint with Facebook over the move, to date I still have not received any response. In fact, it was followers of the page that alerted me to its return before I could discover it for myself. Though it was a relief, the intervening time had given me pause to rethink the way I approach this endeavour.

The Facebook page has been a vital part of what A Guide to Australian Bushranging is about – connecting people to the fascinating and incredible stories of bush banditry that Australian history is dotted with. This will continue, but there will be some changes in how things are done.

The first thing is that instead of posting direct links to news reports, announcements or events on Facebook, there will be a “gazette” posted on the website here that will discuss any news. These will be published on the first of each month, unless there is special news that requires a more timely reporting.

The second change is cosmetic. You may have noticed the new logo, which now features an image of Dan Morgan on horseback. This will henceforth replace the original logo that featured Frank Gardiner on horseback, which had been the site’s avatar since 2017. This change is to signify that A Guide to Australian Bushranging is starting to move into a new phase and develop. It will still be a resource for bushranger history, but things will be executed a little different.

Thirdly, there will be a lot more short form Spotlight articles on the website. There will be at least one Spotlight per month, and features will roll out on an infrequent basis. This is to ensure that the features have a proper gestation time before being rolled out in order to avoid factual errors as much as possible, while still providing new content.

Another thing that will become more frequent is videos on the YouTube channel. Because of the amount of work involved in making video content, the original plan to make videos to supplement the information on the website fell over somewhat. There will now be a more concerted effort to make video content, some of which may be in a “talking head” format, some of which will be travelogues or other formats, depending on what is easiest to produce, and enjoyable to watch.

Where possible I will be inviting more guest authors to volunteer something to be published on the website. This new series will be called “My Story”; wherein people can share their own stories of bushranger history, whether that be a personal connection, an interest in the story of a particular bushranger, or experiences working with the history for media or research. This is designed to give more of an insight into how bushranger history can connect with people, and how we in turn connect with history.

Another article series will be tentatively titled “Pop Gun”, which will look at the influence of bushrangers, and the associated history, on Australian popular culture. This will include reviews of books, films, music, art exhibitions and more, as well as analysis and retrospectives.

There will also be more articles highlighting places associated with bushranging, which may be used as a kind of tourist guide. In the wake of 2020’s Covid-19 shutdowns, domestic tourism has been identified as a major part of Australia’s economic recovery. I am not sponsored by any government or tourism bodies (though I wouldn’t object to it *hint*), but feel that attracting visitors to these places not only offers economic benefits, but may just be the most important part of keeping the history alive and relevant. If these articles assist in reaching that end, they’ve done their job.

Brady’s Lookout, Rosevears, Tasmania.

Throughout the year some of the articles already published will be revised and edited to ensure that factual errors can be corrected as new information comes to hand. This is a one-man operation, and in the early days of the site I had set myself an unreasonable rollout schedule, which resulted in articles being published with errors in them as I rushed to meet the deadlines. As it turns out, having a set time and day for new content doesn’t actually result in any notable differences in the viewing figures, so instead of worrying about the quantity and frequency, I will be focused more on the quality.

June 26 is the anniversary of when this site and its related social media launched almost four years ago. It has undergone many changes in that time and continues to evolve. There are many more exciting things brewing for the bushranging world, so stick around to see what else is coming up.

~ Aidan Phelan

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