Dr Matthew Moorehouse, South Australia's first full-time permanent Protector of Aborigines, deserves to be remembered for his role in the colony's history.
The young English doctor was appointed by the British government in 1839 in an attempt to avoid the disastrous effects of European settlement in earlier Australian colonies. By sifting through microfilm of Adelaide's four newspapers published during the years 1839-1841 I discovered conflicting accounts of Dr Moorhouse's efforts to fulfil the impossible list of responsibilities he was given by Governor Gawler. But I did begin to see his efforts as heroic, and his critics as biased.
I was so impressed by Dr Moorhouse's dedication to his task, that I wanted to write about him. Gaps and discrepancies in the records made a factual account a risky undertaking for someone who is not a historian, so in my seventies I decided to write a novel based on what I had discovered about the first tumultuous two years of 'The Protector's' tenure. Official reports to the British government and items found in the South Australian Archives helped to fill out the picture, still far from complete. The rest would have to be imagined.
Immersing myself in this small slice of South Australian history and indulging my creativity proved to be one of the most satisfying periods in my life. Now, 12 years later, I have revised 'The Protector' for publication as an ebook. It is now available through most major ebook distributors.
I hope 'The Protector' will become a memorial to one of South Australia's unsung heroes. For those who live in this state it will also reveal the origins of many familiar place and street-names.