There was a moon out that night, as there is one tonight. The Gurindji sat on the banks of Wattie Creek with hopes of change.
Faith in their leader and Elder, Vincent Lingiari, and a burning want in their heart for him to be right.
Community members in their separate kin, huddle together in their bush camp. Questions swirling in their heads as the milky way does overhead. The welfare of their children never leaving thoughts.
A simple strike, a station walk off. Little did they know, their walk from Wave Hill would culminate in a 9-year strike. And mark a historic day in Australia’s history.
That strike. That small station walk-off, by the Gurindji people, had a ripple effect of concern across the nation. It resulted in the Gurindji land being returned to them by the Australian Government. It was a ceremonious event attended by former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam. Whitlam poured a handful of sand into Lingiari’s hands. This was a symbol of the giving back of the land to its rightful custodians.
52 years ago, on 23rd August 1966, this walk-off cascaded into the very first reclaim of Aboriginal Land in Australia. It paved the way for other reclaims of land. In fact, the historic Mabo Decision was passed in the high court of Australia the following year. This ruling overturned a land ownership claim that had existed for over 200 years. And proved the falsehood of the Terra Nullius land claim. Click here for more information on the Mabo Decision.
It certainly was a significant day for Australia. And, that same moon that shone for the Gurindji community that night, is shining on us all tonight.
Did you know about Vincent Lingiari and the Wave Hill Walk Off before reading this? Let me know in the comments below.
Until next time. May the moon always shine brightly on you.
Disclaimer: This is a fictional recount written by Louise O’Reilly based on actual historical events.