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Wave Hill Walk Off Route, Buchanan Hwy, Kalkarindji, NT, Australia

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List National Heritage List
Class Indigenous
Legal Status Listed place (09/08/2007)
Place ID 105897
Place File No 7/05/008/0001
Summary Statement of Significance
The Wave Hill Walk-Off Route in the Northern Territory is important as the location of actions taken by Aboriginal pastoral workers who walked off Wave Hill Station on 22 August 1966.  About 250 Aboriginal workers and their families walked off the station in response to the low rates of pay and poor living conditions of Aboriginal pastoral workers and their families on the remote cattle station.  This action was initially characterised as a strike and efforts were made to resolve the matter as an industrial issue.  A strike at Newcastle Waters earlier in 1966 had been resolved.  The Gurindji action developed as a wholesale rejection of the governmental and industrial framework applying to Aboriginal pastoral populations and included a demand for the return of traditional lands.
When they left Wave Hill Station, the Gurindji walked to Wave Hill Welfare Settlement (now Kalkarinji) and established a camp nearby in the dry bed of the Victoria River.  There they received assistance from the government officers and material and political support from unions and, in particular, from the author Frank Hardy.  Their campaign drew public attention nationally and their demand for land rights was expressed through a petition to the Governor General.  They moved to a second camp nearby on higher ground for the wet season.
In March 1967 the Gurindji decided to leave the Welfare Settlement to establish a new community at a place which had special significance for them under their traditions.  This was the beginnings of the current Aboriginal settlement at Daguragu.  Their plan was to establish a pastoral operation and community run under their own leadership, on their traditional lands, to be owned by them.
Through their actions, the Gurindji showed the vitality of Aboriginal aspirations to achieve a way of life that respected their Aboriginal identity, their traditions and their rights to their traditional lands.  This model combining Aboriginal autonomy and land rights shaped Australian government policy following the 1967 referendum, which granted new powers to the Commonwealth Government to make laws for Aboriginal people.  These policies were implemented in remote communities, particularly in the Northern Territory.
The Gurindji were the first Aboriginal community to have land returned to them by the Commonwealth Government.  On the 16th August 1975, then Prime Minister Gough Whitlam transferred a lease for 3 236 square kilometres of land purchased from Wave Hill to the Gurindji.  The significance of this precedent in Commonwealth relations with Aboriginal people was expressed by passing a handful of sand to Vincent Lingiari.  This simple gesture communicated the new approach to Aboriginal policy based on a respectful recognition of Aboriginal identity and relationships to the land that the Gurindji had influenced by walking off Wave Hill Station and by establishing a new community at Daguragu.
The publicity of this event reinforced at a national level the case for Aboriginal land rights and for passage of the Aboriginal Land Rights (NT) Act 1976.  This was passed by the Coalition Government in the following year.  In 1986, the Gurindji’s traditional claims to their pastoral lease land were finally recognised with a grant of freehold title under the Aboriginal Land Rights (NT) Act 1976.
Vincent Lingiari OAM is a unique figure in Australian history because of his leadership of the Wave Hill Walk-Off events, including the establishment of the new community at Daguragu.  In 1977 he was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for his services to his people. As an historical figure, Vincent Lingiari combined leadership on issues of workers’ pay and conditions in a contemporary setting with high authority in Aboriginal tradition and his community.  He has been the subject of popular songs testifying to his dignity and determination in impoverished circumstances and as exemplifying the Australian value of ‘a fair go’.
The Wave Hill Walk-Off Route includes the location of key stages in the events led by Vincent Lingiari on 22 August 1966.  These include the Wave Hill Station homestead area from which the Gurindji walked off, the fence line they followed and a remembered resting point on Gordy Creek; the camps near Wave Hill Welfare Settlement where many important meetings were held, a key place in the establishment of Daguragu in March 1967 and the site where Vincent Lingiari on behalf of the Gurindji received the historic handover of the title to Gurindji land.
Official Values
Criterion A Events, Processes
 The Wave Hill Walk-Off developed as a wholesale rejection of the governmental and industrial framework applying to Aboriginal pastoral workers.  Conditions of Aboriginal pastoral workers and their families on remote cattle stations were well below those enjoyed and accepted by the vast majority of Australians.  The Walk-Off was not resolved as an industrial matter.  Instead, the Gurindji proceeded to establish an Aboriginal community on Aboriginal terms on their traditional lands at Daguragu.  By taking this action, the Gurindji showed the vitality of Aboriginal aspirations to achieve a way of life that respected their Aboriginal identity, their traditions and their rights to their traditional lands.  Their example, combining Aboriginal autonomy and land rights, influenced the direction of government policy following the 1967 referendum, which granted new powers to the Commonwealth Government to make laws for Aboriginal people.
The Gurindji were the first Aboriginal community to have land returned to them by the Commonwealth Government.  The ceremony of the handover was conducted in a manner to highlight this historic precedent in the relationship between the Commonwealth Government and Aboriginal people over land rights.  The evident intent of then Prime Minister Gough Whitlam was to communicate a new approach to Aboriginal policy based on a respectful recognition of the Aboriginal relationship to the land through a simple gesture of passing a handful of sand to Vincent Lingiari.  The Gurindji hand over ceremony was the occasion for this message because the actions that the Gurindji initiated by walking off Wave Hill Station and by later establishing a new community at Daguragu led the way for this change of policy.
The Wave Hill Walk-Off Route includes the location of key stages in these events, including the Station homestead area from which the Gurindji walked off on 22 August 1966, the fence line they followed and a remembered resting point, the camps near Wave Hill Welfare Settlement where many important meetings were held, a key place in the establishment of Daguragu in March 1967 and the site where Gurindji received the historic handover of the title to their land on 16 August 1975.
Criterion H Significant people
Vincent Lingiari OAM is an important figure in Australian history because of his role in the Wave Hill Walk-Off and subsequent events that contributed to the fundamental shift of Aboriginal policy following the 1967 referendum, towards Aboriginal self-determination and land rights. Vincent Lingiari combined leadership on industrial issues, with high authority in Aboriginal tradition, and dignity in impoverished circumstances to exemplify the Australian notion of ‘a fair go’.
In 1977, Vincent Lingiari was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for his services to his people.
At every stage of the Route, Vincent Lingiari had a key leadership role.  This includes his role in initiating the walk-off, in leading his people to Wave Hill Welfare Settlement, in the important meetings at the camps near Wave Hill Welfare Settlement, in the decision to establish the community at Daguragu and as the recipient of lands on behalf of the Gurindji, which took place at Daguragu.
The Wave Hill Walk-Off Route extends from old Wave Hill Station homestead to Kalkarinji and Daguragu approximately along the old Wave Hill Station track, the Buntine Highway and the route from the Highway to the Daguragu community.   The heritage values of the following places are described as follows.
Jinparak (Old Wave Hill Station)
At the time of the walk-off, Wave Hill homestead consisted of at least twenty corrugated-iron-clad buildings as well as a number of bough sheds, a thatched meat house, several outside toilets (earth closets), fenced off areas, gardens, a fowl yard, small stockyards, and a bore.  However, the site was abandoned in 1969, the useable buildings were removed and the remaining structures were bulldozed.
The site includes remains of the old station windmill, bore and tank, the foundations of the former homestead, store sheds and a clinic; and also, to the south of the former homestead, the former Aboriginal camp areas. The most extensive of these was the Gurindji camp. There is a very light surface scatter of metal objects in this area, but the principal site marker is re-growth of rubber trees.  A second Aboriginal camp was occupied by Aboriginal visitors from the Mudbura, Warlpiri and Ngaringman language groups. Camps within this area are often marked by low semicircular stone arrangements, which were wind breaks. Concrete floor slabs are also to be seen in this vicinity, which mark former building sites.
Fence Line route
The fence that existed when the Gurindji walked off Wave Hill Station on 22 August 1966 appears to have been replaced, but apparently it still follows the original line.  The fence line consists of three strand barbed wire with steel star picket posts and droppers.  The fence stretches for approximately 6.5 kilometres from near the former Wave Hill Homestead to a fence line corner approximately 600 meters southeast of Junani (Gordy Creek waterhole).  The Gurindji are said to have walked in a group within 50 metres of the fence, on the northern side of the fence.
Junani (Gordy Creek Waterhole /Crossing)
This place is a waterhole in the bed of Gordy Creek.  The waterhole is located approximately half way between the former Wave Hill Station homestead (from where the walk-off began) and Kalkarinji.  Junani waterhole only holds water during the wet season and for a short time afterwards.  It can be a source of soakage water in the dry season.
Route from Junani to Lipanangu
The Gurindji followed a track from Junani on Gordy Creek to Lipanangu that has become partly obscured by the Buchanan Highway.  However, the current Buchanan Highway does not follow exactly the route of the 1966 road. In some areas the original road deviated some distance from the walk-off route.
Lipanangu (Victoria River Camp)
This is a sandy stretch of the bed of the Victoria River below the downstream end of the waterhole that is now crossed by the Buchanan Highway.  It was used as a camp site by approximately 250 Aboriginal people who walked off Wave Hill in August 1966 until the onset of the 1966-67 wet season.
Bottom Camp
This is a limestone ridge covered with sparse tussocky grass and few trees, on the north side of and adjacent to Wave Hill Welfare Station.  The Gurindji constructed a number of ‘humpies’ there for rain protection for the 1966-7 wet season.  Evidence of their stay can still be seen in the form of broken glass and various metal objects (cans, car parts, wire etc).
From Bottom Camp to Daguragu
The current Buchanan Highway and the turnoff track to Daguragu approximate an old track that was used during the walk-off.  There is no physical evidence remaining of the walk-off track.
Daguragu First Camp
It was at this place, from March 1967, that some of the Aboriginal people, who walked off the Wave Hill Station in August 1966, first established this camp (now known as Daguragu).  The nutwood tree inside Lot 28 Daguragu on the western end of the settlement is believed to be the same tree that marked the founding camp site.
Daguragu Handover site
The commemorative plaque (memorial), which was unveiled during the handover ceremony on 16 August 1975, stands in Lot 48 Daguragu. Lot 48 is a small park in the centre of Daguragu.  The memorial itself is located on a very flat area with several trees growing nearby.
Aboriginal Conditions in the pastoral industry
Indigenous expressions of discontent over remuneration and living conditions within the Northern Territory pastoral industry have a long history.  The treatment of Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory until the 1960s and 1970s was very much influenced by the early policies of the Commonwealth Government. These policies reflected the attitudes of the time toward Aboriginal people in Australia, attitudes that were remarkably slow to change.  Before the 1967 referendum the Australian Constitution prevented the Australian Government enacting policies for Aboriginal people at a national level.  Policies and approaches to Aboriginal legal status, employment and living conditions were implemented under different state and territory administrations without national coordination or national responsibility.  This resulted in a pattern of neglect, dependency and marginalisation, where Aboriginal Australians were highly vulnerable to exploitation.
The first attempt to regulate Aboriginal employment conditions by the Commonwealth Government in the Northern Territory occurred in 1933 when the Commonwealth exercised the power of prescribing Aboriginal wages and conditions of employment under the Aboriginals Ordinance of 1918, however, these regulations were rarely honoured (Kelly 1966: 172-3).
Anthropologists Catherine and Ronald Berndt surveyed Aboriginal labour on Vestey's pastoral leaseholds between 1944 and 1946.  The survey was the first applied anthropology study in Australia and afforded a unique view of the conditions of Aborigines working in the pastoral industry in the Northern Territory.  The Berndts documented appalling working conditions, squalor and poverty in many of the camps, and endemic malnutrition and high infant mortality rates.  They reported widespread dissatisfaction and resentment of working and living conditions on pastoral stations.  Indigenous accounts of ill usage, extremely limited life chances, degrading treatment, racial and sexual abuse were documented (Berndt & Berndt 1987).
It was not until after the Second World War that a significant shift in government policies occurred. In 1951, the Commonwealth parliament agreed to adopt a policy of assimilation through the repeal of restrictions in existing ordinances and to extend full citizenship rights to Aborigines. However, the introduction of the Wards Employment Ordinance of the Northern Territory saw Aboriginal stock workers receive less than 15% of the basic wage (Stevens 1974: 23). The new ordinance achieved little or nothing in advancing the welfare of Aborigines.
The immediate impetus to the Wave Hill walk-off was the March 1966 decision by the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to delay the payment of award wages to male Indigenous workers in the cattle industry until 1968. In 1965 the North Australia Workers Unions (NAWU) applied to the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission for a variation in the award in order to give equal wages to male Aboriginal workers in the pastoral industry. The Commission supported the Union's application; however, the payment of the award was to be delayed for three years. Furthermore, the 'slow worker' category of worker was to remain, a distinction whereby those workers considered by their employers to be relatively inefficient, would be exempt from the payment of award wages. This category of worker was applicable only to Aboriginal workers. At the April, 1966 meeting of Federal Council for the Advancement of Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders (FCAATSI), it was noted that the court decision left Aboriginal pastoral workers (citizens of Australia) earning less than the basic wage (Rowley 1971: 333).
Wave Hill Station
The Wave Hill pastoral lease was taken up and stocked in 1883 by W.F. Buchanan with cattle, brought over the Gulf stock route from Queensland (Hill 1977: 170).  This was the earliest phases of pastoral settlement of the Victoria River and Kimberley Districts of the Northern Territory and Western Australia.  Wave Hill was one of the few Northern Territory stations to survive the depression of the 1890s.  By 1910 it was well stocked, in a good trading position and had made significant land improvements for pastoral purposes (Duncan 1967: 98).
In the early 1910s the Administrator of Northern Territory, Dr. J.A. Gilruth, invited Vestey, the largest international meat producer in western world, to take up pastoral land (Kelly 1966: 2).  The Vestey interests bought Wave Hill in 1914 as part of a major move into the Australian cattle industry. By 1916 Vestey had leased 27,670 square miles of pastoral land in the Northern Territory and had built an export meatworks in Darwin (Powell 1982: 152).  The meatworks closed after a short time and the period after World War 1 was one of stagnation for the Northern Territory pastoral industry.  The major Commonwealth inquiry of the industry by Payne and Fletcher in 1937 (see Riddett 1990: 42-4), while sympathetic to the Vestey interests, noted their stations 'were too large to be developed to their full capacity under one control and management' (quoted in Knightley 1981: 136).
The Vestey leases were renewed in 1954 for further 50 years.  Kelly, who made an overall negative assessment of large absentee land holdings, notes that '... the Vestey stations ... are amongst the least developed in this category' (1966:144).  The 1950s and 60s was a boom period where the Northern Territory benefited from a world wide beef shortage (Powell 1982: 220).  Yet, the Vestey pastoral superintendent in Northern Australia, P.J.A. Morris, was a principal witness opposing award wages for Aboriginal stockmen at the Arbitration Commission hearings in 1965 (Kelly 1966: 142). Vestey's reduced their Northern Territory holdings during the 1970s and by 1981 retained only Wave Hill and Helen Springs stations (Knightley 1981: 152).
The Wave Hill Walk-Off
The Gurindji decision to walk-off Wave Hill Station was initiated after a meeting in early August 1966 between Dexter Daniels, an Aboriginal organiser from the NAWU, and Gurindji man Vincent Lingiari in Darwin, where Lingiari was receiving medical treatment.  The two discussed the wages issues and the May 1966 pastoral workers strike at nearby Newcastle Waters Station.  Daniels asked Lingiari what they wanted to do about their poor living conditions and wages on the station.
Mick Rangiari one of the younger leaders of the walk-off reflected on these early meetings: 
When that old man [Lingiari] went to Darwin and he met a couple of fellows at the Bagot Reserve and those two fellows - Dexter Daniels and Bobby Tudawali and then Philip Roberts and another fellow Clancy Robertson, and spoke to them about it that afternoon.
They said 'Well you're out of hospital now. If you go back to Wave Hill, talk to your family. What about you can make a union strike?'
That old fellow [Lingiari] when he come back we were at Negri Crossing [for the races]. We came back, and as soon as he see that everybody back he said 'We've gotta stop tomorrow. We gotta just walk out on the Vesteys. We gotta make a move in the morning. No-one's gonna go back - no women, no men are gonna go back to the station to do their work.'
'But we all gotta walk into the office - the main office and talk to Tom Fisher [Vesteys station manager] and we'll walk out.
'We'll give him the story and he'll know about it.' (Rangiari 1997: 34-35)
Early in the morning of 22 August 1966, Vincent Lingiari met Tom Fisher, Vestey's manager, requested a wage increase to $25 a week and complained about the recent abuse of Aboriginal women.  Fisher reportedly denied any knowledge of abuse and declined the wage rise.  Lingiari then told Fisher that they are 'walking off today' (Hardy 1968: 73).
Vincent Lingiari then returned to the camp and told the families to prepare to leave the station.  That morning some 250 Gurindji left their camp at Wave Hill Station (Jinparak) on foot with their few belongings (Barrkman 2000).  They followed a fence line leading west and rested at a dry creek called Junani (Gordy Creek) where they rested and dug for water in the middle of the day.  They continued to Lipanangu, a stretch of sandy ground in the bed of the Victoria River near Wave Hill Welfare Station (now the township of Kalkaringi).
They set up camp at Lipanangu and remained there until late December 1966, sustained by their own hunting and foraging and with some support from the welfare officer stationed at the Welfare Station, Bill Jeffrey.  Jeffrey could provide food for school children and women who were breast feeding.  He was sympathetic and commented to Frank Hardy '... there were a lot of lactating women around the camp.  Some of them were men even' (Hardy 1968: 78).
On 23 August 1966, Tom Fisher and a Vestey man from Sydney, Peter Morris, visited the camp to persuade the Aboriginal workers and their families to return to the station camp even if they remain on strike.  Lingiari remained firm about staying where they were and even refused Fisher's offer of a 'killer' (a freshly killed beast) and reportedly stated: 'No thanks, Tom, I don't want killer. We don't want nothing from you Vestey mob, no more' (Hardy 1968: 74).
Six days after the initial walk-off members of the Northern Territory Council for Aboriginal Rights and NAWU organisers Brian Manning, Robert Tudawali and Dexter Daniels and FCAATSI members George Gibbs and Stan Davey arrived with supplies from Darwin.  Brian Manning spoke to the community about giving support and arranging finances from the south. He also had discussions with Vincent Lingiari, Pincher Nyurrmiyari, Long Johnny Kijngayari, Jack Deadwood and an unnamed camp cook and taped the talks for the circulation to the Union and others (Hardy 1968: 69).  Manning's account of his first meeting with the Gurindji ends with him promising to 'stick' with them until they received the same award conditions as white men (in Hardy 1968: 81).  Manning recounts that although he talked about wages and conditions to them the community's primary concern 'was the contempt in which they had always been held' (Hardy 1968: 80).
Stan Davey assisted the Aborigines to register and apply for the dole (Hardy 1968: 90).  Their applications were initially rejected but eventually reversed, largely by the persistent efforts of George Gibbs and the campers were granted the dole (Hardy1968: 91).
An ABC Four Corners crew arrived at about this time and recorded interviews with Dexter Daniels, Robert Tudawali, Vincent Lingiari and Stan Davey.  The segment 'The Price of Equality' drew national attention to the situation of Aboriginal pastoral workers in Australia.
Author and activist Frank Hardy visited the camp first between 10 and 15 September 1966 where '... we saw more than two hundred men, women and children camped on the pebbly sand, clustered in kinship groups in the shade of bloodwood trees and giant trunks of trees petrified like rocks through the centuries.' (Hardy 1968: 86).  Hardy records frequent talks with the Gurindji especially Vincent Lingiari, Long Johnny Kijngayari, Pincher Nyurrmiyari and Gerry Ngarlgardji (a Warlpiri man) who he sees as 'tribal elders and strike leaders' (Hardy 1968: 106).  He is told of Gurindji grievances, which he describes as 'a slow bitterness [that] had festered for decades...' (Hardy 1968: 89).  Pincher told Hardy that Vestey treated them 'like dog', kept their workers for long hours without food, 'take lubra from camp' and failed to teach them new skills.  Pincher also complained that Vestey thought they owned the country when it was Gurindji country in the first place.  Hardy records Pincher as saying that the Vestey Company should all leave and that the Gurindji wanted the land for themselves (Hardy 1968: 101).
With the wet season approaching the Gurindji relocated the camp to a limestone ridge on higher ground that became known as Bottom Camp, about 250 metres behind the welfare officer's house.  There they constructed tin huts for shelter and a 'high bough shelter' for meetings (Hardy 1968: 155).  The Gurindji remained there during the wet season of 1966-7, initially receiving rations from the policeman and the welfare officer.  The community resolutely refused to go back to Wave Hill Station, despite the food shortages during a particularly severe wet in which floods cut off anything other than radio contact to the Wave Hill area.
The Gurindji remained steadfast about receiving award wages, i.e. the same remuneration as white men. Their stance is significant as following months of negotiation between government, unions and pastoralists, new minimum rates were set and the regulations amended in November 1966 (Long 1992 : 152; Rowley 1971: 333). The walk-offs of Aboriginal workers, despite government denials to the contrary, encouraged such negotiations. Earlier, following the agreement on wages in September 1966, the ACTU advised NAWU, to make a Territory-wide announcement about the new negotiated accord on wages and conditions. The Darwin executive of the NAWU, however, decided that the strikers should only return under award rates and that unemployed Aborigines should apply for unemployment benefits (Rowley 1971: 333; Hardy 1968: 115).
Some of the stockmen had taken work at Camfield, Montejinni and Wave Hill Stations while some had gone to Darwin, leaving about thirty-five men and their dependents at the first walk-off camp.  Undaunted, Lingiari says that he will visit all the stations and send word to Darwin so they will know to return to the Gurindji community so they will all be together in their own country (Hardy 1968: 159).
The move to Daguragu
During the period at Lipanangu, Lingiari told the Welfare Station officers that the Gurindji wanted to live at Wattie Creek in the Seal Gorge area.  The Welfare Station officers had expected the Gurindji to live at the Welfare Station but Lingiari stated that it was too late, that Welfare hadn't helped them in the past and that now they didn't need Welfare Station.  Both Vincent Lingiari and Lupngagayari (spelt Lupgna Giari in Hardy - also known as Captain Major), who had led the Newcastle Waters strike in May 1966, had ties to Seal Gorge through their mothers (Hardy 1968: 142).  Lupngagayari told Hardy about how they held corroborees years ago at Seal Gorge and that 'four miles away' there are caves with Gurindji paintings and bones of dead people (Hardy 1968: 143).  Also, the Seal Gorge area was the country of one Sandy Moray, who is said to have met with the men who would lead the walk-off under a Nutwood tree near Daguragu, well before 1966, and exhorted them to leave working for the whiteman and to live separately on their own terms.
In March 1967, the Gurindji moved to Daguragu on Wattie Creek.  The move to Daguragu occurred in stages.  Frank Hardy had returned to Wave Hill on 15 March 1967.  The firm decision was made shortly after this at a meeting where Vincent Lingiari, Long Johnny Kijngayari, Pincher Nyurrmiyari and Mick Rangiari, and also Frank Hardy spoke.  The following day about an advance group set off on foot with tools and rations to prepare living areas at Wattie Creek (Attwood 2003: 276).  Hardy described the scene as they left:
At dawn on March 18, I watched as 18 men and 6 lubras quietly left the camp at Wave Hill Welfare Settlement (Bottom Camp). ... They carried rolls of wire netting, crowbars, augers and other tools and equipment. They were the advance party which was to begin building the 'homestead' for the Gurindji Mining Lease and Cattle Station. They had a long walk ahead of them. (in Middleton, 1979: 116)
Hardy described their efforts to establish the camp at Wattie Creek:
... some of the men were busy putting the wire netting and Spinifex grass roof on to the second building, others [were] digging post holes and cutting timber for the third. The buildings were perhaps twenty feet square and eight feet high. In front of one of the buildings was the sign prepared by Pincher and Hardy under instructions from the Gurindji. It read: 'GURINDJI MINING LEASE AND CATTLE STATION' (Hardy 1968: 193).
The main group of Gurindji moved to the new camp at Wattie Creek shortly afterwards during March 1967.
Land Rights
Although the walk-off and the subsequent rejection of Vestey's overtures for them to return show the Gurindji resolve to leave the station, it appears that the formulation of the Gurindji's demand as one for traditional land rights developed over a period through their engagement with Frank Hardy.  Lingiari reflected on Hardy's role during the March 1967 meetings at Bottom camp as follows:
We coming up good time now. Old Prank here listen to we.  He listen.  Them old Cudeba [whites] never listen.  Prank listen what thinking, what we telling.  We speak right word.  We go right road, own Gurindji road and find way to Wattie Creek.  That's the new word, the true word. (Hardy 1968 in Attwood 2003: 279)
Professor CA Gibb's 1971 report on 'The Situation of Aborigines on Pastoral Properties in the Northern Territory' states: 'It seems clear from all this evidence, including Mr Hardy's book, that the idea of claiming 'tribal lands' was his and that the Aborigines had earlier been thinking only in terms of seeking to have the Wave Hill lease transferred to them so they could own and manage the station on which they had long worked.' (Gibb 1971)
Hardy had a key role in the form and expression of the 19 April 1967 Gurindji petitioned to the Governor General.  This asked that 1 295 square kilometres of land to be excised from Wave Hill pastoral lease in order that Gurindji could live on their own land independently of the pastoral company.  Their petition was partly modelled on the 1963 the Yolngu bark petition opposing the grant of bauxite mining leases in north-east Arnhem Land, although the Gurindji petition did not include artwork.
After his September 1966 discussions with the Gurindji Hardy began seeking legal advice on the terms of such a petition.  He sought advice from Labor lawyer and parliamentarian Lionel Murphy, among others.  He also read widely on the anthropological issues, including a paper by Ronald Berndt on the north-east Arnhem Land land rights issues.  In the course of finding the words and processes for the Gurindji to express their claims, Hardy joined the previously separate movements of the Gurindji and the Yolngu and articulated a claim to land rights based on Aboriginal tradition (Attwood 2003: 276-7).
Notwithstanding Hardy's contribution, Vestey and Government officials appear to have accepted the Gurindji resolve to break with their former life as dependents and workers on the station and to establish a community and cattle enterprise on their own terms - and on their own traditional land - as authentic and alarming (Bern and Larbelestier 2006).
The Gurindji petition was rejected a few months later.  The Government made offers and proposals for smaller areas, mostly focused on the future development of Wave Hill Welfare Settlement as the major population centre.  The Gurindji did not agree to these.  Vestey had initially queried the Gurindji about their rights to build at Daguragu and there were concerns in government about the broad implications of these actions for property rights.  However, neither the Company nor the government of the day chose to contest the Gurindji moves.
On the 16th August 1975, then Prime Minister Gough Whitlam transferred a lease for 3 236 square kilometres of land purchased from Wave Hill to the Gurindji.  This event was symbolised by Whitlam placing a handful of sand in Vincent Lingiari's hand.   The Gurindji attach great importance to this handover.  The publicity of this event and the handover gesture reinforced at a national level the case for Aboriginal land rights and for passage of the Aboriginal Land Rights (NT) Act 1976.  This was passed by the Coalition Government in the following year.
In 1986, the Gurindji's traditional claims to their pastoral lease land were recognised with a grant of freehold title under the Aboriginal Land Rights (NT) Act 1976.
Aboriginal views of the walk-off and the walk-off route
The Wave Hill walk-off was a defining event in the development of land rights and policies of self-determination which acknowledged the importance of Aboriginal traditions in the aspirations of Aboriginal people.  Although Frank Hardy and many other people shaped these events and how they were received both politically and as a public issue, the walk-off route relates to the decisions made by Aboriginal cattle workers and their families to quit working at the station, to leave the station camp and, later, to establish a new community also away from the Welfare Station at a place that were of immediate significance to the Aboriginal people involved.  Gurindji place great significance on these events and continue to tell the story in relation to the walk-off route.
Leaving Jinparrak
The first stage of the walk-off was the departure from the camp at Wave Hill.  Mick Rangiari described the departure this way:
And everybody was there. Vestey people you know, a lot of Vestey people sitting there, stockmen and all, and ah, that's the way we, we didn't say anything back. We bin just walk away. Just get back to camp and pack all our gear, and get down to the police station (Lipanangu).... Vestey not bin fair. Vesteys not bin fair, with our people, and we bin, even the woman say that some Vesteys people never bin fair. You know what's happen... Old Vincent Lingiari said 'Okay, we finish'. So we went back to camp. Pack all our gear, and he said to them, 'start walk'. (Mick Rangiari, 20/4/06 in Rose and Lewis 2006)
Along with the able-bodied adults there were children and old people, although a few of the oldest had to be left behind to be picked up later.
The resting here is often mentioned when Gurindji tell the story:
We settle down there. Get a water, dig for water, get some water little bit. It was real dirty, but we drank it. (Michael George, 19/4/06 in Rose and Lewis 2006)
This was the focus of support for the strikers and reaction to the strike:
All the piccaninny dawns come up. All the suns rise plenty times, all the moons look down. All the rains fall and we wait. I listen to the rain and worry in me head, maybe we not go to Wattie Creek, maybe nobody come from Darwin, maybe they all forget about we, maybe them young fellas not listen to old men any more. We know how to wait. But what we wait for? - that the trouble. (Lingiari in Hardy 1968: 159)
That Tom Fisher wanted us to go to Wave Hill again. We been camping there [Lipanangu] for a while. The Vesteys brought beef down to the river to get us back to Wave Hill. We been starving but old fella [Lingiari] he strong, so we shifted to near the Wave Hill Settlement.  (Pincher Nyurrimiyari (Numiari) 1975: 11)
Frank said 'you got to start thinking about what you mob gonna do. That's it. So we, we bin start thinking about 'Oh, we don't gotta go back. We gotta go, we gotta talking about this land thing, you know, talk about where we can live.... We bin stubborn now. Everything bin alright, from that day ... Vestey bin come down, trying to get us back to the station, take us back to the Wave Hill station, but we said 'No. We not going back no more.' (Mick Rangiari, 20/4/06 in Rose and Lewis 2006)
We bin live there, sit down. Alright, Frank Hardy come, all the Waterside Workers, union mob, all our friends. (Violet Donald 20/4/06 in Rose and Lewis 2006)
And [Lingiari] told the people they would have to stay there forever and live in that place. So the people did. They went hunting out bush and collected bush tucker... went fishing down the river and caught fish, turtle, and crocodile and ... collected crocodile eggs. They were very happy in that place called Daguragu. They lived there for a long time until the houses were built for them... today the people are still there. They never move out from Daguragu. (Gordon in Riddett 1990: 171)
Well just live away from kartiya [white people] place, we move. ... We don't want to live there long that settlement, stay here out from station, out from settlement. Here. We left from there and stay here. (Peanut Panjayari, 19/4/06 in Rose and Lewis 2006)
Sandy Moray, discussed in Hardy (1968) and Rose (1991), is considered by some to have proposed that Gurindji leave the stations and set up on their own terms well before the walk-off.   Moray's country was the Seale Gorge area upstream from Daguragu.   According to Jimmy Manngayari, he attended the meeting along with  Vincent Lingiari, Peanut Panjayari's father, and a man named Bob Warriyawun. In Manngayari's words, Sandy Moray told them:
What's for we work'n langa kartiya? We wanna fight the kartiya. Get the country back! Don't worry about it. You gotta [will get] land, no worry. You gotta land, you gotta station, you gotta horse, you gotta buluki [bullock], you gotta motika [car] (Rose 1991 in Rose and Lewis 2006: 22).
Hardy met Sandy Moray and described him as 'ancient thin man' (Hardy 1968: 161).  Hardy does not report him having any prominent role in the strike.  Moray was senior to Vincent Lingiari and the other strike leaders of the time and may have provided them with the traditional authority to embark on the walk-off and for the decision to move from Wave Hill Welfare Station to Daguragu.
The anthropologist Minoru Hokari has suggested that in choosing Daguragu as the place for the new settlement the Gurindji were returning to site where the inspiration and plans for making this change were first discussed and agreed.  Making a settlement there brought the story home to its origins, embedding into place a story that had travelled all over Gurindji country and beyond (see Rose 1991: 226), had coalesced into a walk-off at Wave Hill, had brought people through hardship and enticements, and had firmed itself into complete determination. The new life for Gurindji people would be built where the dream of a new life had first been articulated (Rose and Lewis 2006).
The nutwood tree in Lot 28 at Daguragu is remembered as the site of the early meeting with Sandy Mora and important meetings in 1967 when the Gurindji moved to Daguragu.  The Gurindji attach great importance to the handover memorial that commemorates the handover of the pastoral lease to Vincent Lingiari on 16 August 1975.
Condition and Integrity
Jinparak (Old Wave Hill Station)
Since it was abandoned, there has been considerable increase in vegetation cover at the Old Station Site.  This thickening has occurred to a greater or lesser degree along most of the walk-off route, but is particularly evident on and around the homestead site. It includes native vegetation such as Eucalypts, Nutwood trees and Turpentine scrub and introduced plants such as Rubber Bush (Calitopus ricara) and Sesbania cannabina.
Fence Line route
An existing fence follows the location of the fence line which the Gurindji followed in August 1966.  The original fence has been replaced and there are no remaining artefacts of the walk-off, which occurred within 50 metres north of the original fence.
Junani (Gordy Creek Waterhole /Crossing)
Gordy Creek is regularly flooded in the wet seasons and contains no physical remains of the Gurindji walk-off.
Route from Junani to Lipanangu
The current Buchanan Highway has been built over the 1966 track which the Gurindji generally followed.  The exact route historically taken is not physically evident and there are no physical remains of the Gurindji walk-off.
Lipanangu (Victoria River Camp)
Lipanangu is a natural feature, with no remaining evidence of the 1966 camp.  Annual floods scour the beds and banks of these waterholes and deposit new material.
Bottom Camp
This area of limestone ridge includes scattered remnants of the camp in 1966-7 wet season including broken glass and various metal objects (cans, car parts, wire etc).
From Bottom Camp to Daguragu
The exact route historically taken is not physically evident and there are no physical remains of the Gurindji walk-off.  The current Buchanan Highway and the turnoff track have been maintained over the older track that was used during the walk-off.
Daguragu First Camp and Handover site
The nutwood tree in Lot 28 Daguragu is in good condition.
Daguragu Handover site
The commemorative plaque (memorial) dates from 16 August 1975 and is in good condition.
About 250ha, between Wave Hill Homestead and Daguragu, comprising NT Portion 6643(A), being:
All that area of land near Wave Hill in the Northern Territory of Australia being those parts of Northern Territory Portions 2395, 2653, Lot 121 in the Town of Kalkarindji and Public Roads designated Northern Territory Portion 6643(A) and being firstly, that part of Northern Territory Portion 2653 containing Jinbarak – Old Wave Hill Homestead and bounded by straight lines connecting in succession the following points:
Point No.         Easting (metres)         Northing (metres)
      1                707000                        8065300
      2                707000                        8064650
      3                706350                        8064650
      4                706350                        8065300
      1                707000                        8065300
and secondly, that parcel of land running generally northwesterly through Northern Territory Portions 2653 (Wave Hill), 2395 (Daguragu Aboriginal Land Trust), Lot 121 in the Town of Kalkarindji and Public Roads, being a corridor 100 metres in width and centred on straight lines connecting in succession points 5 to 54 listed hereunder, points 5 to 14 inclusive being along a fenceline running northwesterly from Jinbarak – Old Wave Hill Homestead:
Point No.         Easting (metres)         Northing (metres)
      5                706669                        8064962      (Start of Fence Line)
      6                706418                        8064861
      7                706129                        8064794
      8                705749                        8064993
      9                704625                        8065204
     10               703346                        8065450
     11               701010                        8065851
     12               700790                        8065933
     13               700406                        8066006
     14               700223                        8066124      (Fenceline Corner)
     15               700078                        8066272
     16               699917                        8066367
     17               699636                        8066501      (Junani - Gordy Creek Waterhole)
     18               699487                        8066607
     19               699133                        8066698
     20               698296                        8066717
     21               697741                        8067020
     22               697476                        8067285
     23               697070                        8067649
     24               696663                        8067798
     25               696365                        8068554
     26               696354                        8068623
     27               696325                        8068695
     28               696200                        8068999
     29               696178                        8069130
     30               696160                        8069378
     31               696055                        8069648
     32               695780                        8070169
     33               695694                        8070292      (Victoria River Camp)
     34               695500                        8070501
     35               695160                        8070556      (Bottom Camp)
     36               695092                        8070779
     37               694903                        8071044
     38               694843                        8071347
     39               694730                        8071499
     40               694749                        8071748
     41               694866                        8072038
     42               694952                        8072213
     43               694948                        8072802
     44               694768                        8073204
     45               694529                        8073426
     46               694367                        8073683
     47               694310                        8073989
     48               694384                        8074325
     49               693468                        8074515
     50               693194                        8074495
     51               692670                        8074574
     52               692375                        8074755
     53               692177                        8074935
     54               691983                        8075035      (Outskirts of Daguragu Townsite)
and thirdly, that parcel of land containing a roadway running generally northwesterly within the Townsite of Daguragu being a corridor 10 metres in width and centred on straight lines connecting in succession the following points:
Point No.         Easting (metres)         Northing (metres)
     54               691983                        8075035
     55               691938                        8075043
     56               691872                        8075081
     57               691868                        8075118
     58               691818                        8075144
     59               691776                        8075156
     60               691647                        8075231
and fourthly, that parcel of land containing Lots 28(A) (First Camp) and 48(A) (Handover site) in the Townsite of Daguragu and bounded by straight lines connecting in succession the following points:
Point No.         Easting (metres)         Northing (metres)
     61               691 688                       8 075 203
     62               691 670                       8 075 170
     63               691 578                       8 075 214
     64               691 601                       8 075 253
     61               691 688                       8 075 203
all co-ordinates quoted here-in being GDA94 Zone 52.
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Report Produced  Fri Aug 29 20:26:20 2014