(Image: Grave of Frederick Brooks/National Library of Australia)

This is an edited extract from Michael Bradley’s book Coniston, published by UWA Publishing -- out now

"Be kind to the wild native if you want trouble. He mistakes kindness for fear all over Australia." -- F. Merlan in Aboriginal History (vol. 2)

Fred Brooks and Randal Stafford were old mates. The two archetypes of the Australian outback had met many years earlier while working on stations in the Innamincka country around Lake Eyre in South Australia. Stafford was a native South Australian, coming from a well-off family but having apparently gone bush at a young age. About Brooks’ background nothing is known. Both men were in their 60s in 1928.