EDUCATION DEPARTMENT SHAFTS ITS STAR PRINCIPAL. Report by KIERAN FINNANE.
The principal who in 1991 helped save Papunya School from collapse and went on to achieve recognition for the school at Territory and national levels for innovation, resilience and educational reform, says she has been forced out of the NT education system and denied due process at every turn.
In September Diane deVere reluctantly accepted a redundancy package after a long period of enforced study leave and leave without pay.
The Education Department is stonewalling questions, but Ms deVere says she is the victim of a nation-wide political backlash against bilingual schooling and determination in the Territory to pursue a reform agenda leading to amalgamation of the schools in the region. She, the school council and staff were deeply concerned about this reform agenda.
The circumstances of her removal throw up yet unanswered questions about the department's support for its staff, its school councils and for innovation in remote schools, as well as questions about the influence that powerful figures in a community Ð as opposed to the school council and staff Ð can have over the running of a state school.
At the start of Ms DeVere's term at Papunya the community was largely boycotting the school.
Working with community educators and leaders, in particular Alison Anderson, now an ATSIC commissioner, Ms deVere took the school from a state of collapse to undoubtedly one of the most exciting bush schools in the Territory, regarded as a model for curriculum and professional development.
But by the end of her nine years in the community Ms deVere had fallen out with Ms Anderson and members of her family, who Ms deVere says were supporting the "English only" and amalgamation agendas; and the department had turned its back on its star bush principal and allowed an extraordinary level of external intervention in its school.
And today Ð depending on whom you talk to Ð attendance is again in the doldrums.
AFL star Shaun Hart spent two days in Papunya recently as one of several sports personalities visiting The Centre in a bid to boost school attendance (Alice News, Oct 22).
Mr Hart told us that 40 children came to the school when he was there, about double the usual number, while the total enrolment is 80.
But the department says there are "only about 60 students of primary school age in the community", with 45 regularly going to school.
I reported a visit to Papunya School in the Alice News of August 30, 2000. I had been struck by three things:
¥ a huge painted storyboard of the history of Papunya, worked on by the whole school, highly specific, comprehensive and locally relevant, put into a regional and national context (it left for dead anything of a similar nature that I had seen in primary schools in Alice Springs);
¥ the mock-up of what was to become the prize-winning book, "The Papunya School Book of Country and History", published by Allen & Unwin, on which leading children's author Nadia Wheatley and illustrator Ken Searle had collaborated with school staff and students as part of the literacy acquisition program;
¥ and, the presence of qualified Indigenous teaching staff.
When Ms deVere had arrived at the school eight years earlier there had been no qualified Indigenous staff, despite some of them having worked in the school for many years, one for 20 years.
The on-site teacher education model she negotiated and developed in partnership with the community and Batchelor Institute had begun to turn this around.
It was based on models she had seen on a study tour to US and Canada, made possible by a scholarship awarded by the Australian National Schools Network.
Papunya School, as it was operating under Ms deVere's leadership, was also discussed as a possible future model for remote Indigenous education by the Senate committee inquiry into education and training programs for Indigenous Australians, whose report was published in March, 2000.
The committee was scathing about "the official neglect" of Papunya School and the Territory Department of Education's "systematic lack of interest in Aboriginal Education".
To its credit, in the wake of that report and the NT Government commissioned Learning Lessons review by Bob Collins, the department began to implement change and for a while were interested in the lessons at Papunya.
After a visit to the school in May 2001 by an "action curriculum team", Papunya's whole school professional development model was recommended for consideration as a "working model" for Indigenous schools throughout the NT.
But at the same time (and less than one year after my visit) things were going pear-shaped at the school.
All the work that had seemed so exciting and innovative, that had been acclaimed, that had achieved considerable improvement in school attendance and in literacy and numeracy levels and that had begun to open up possibilities of secondary education, began to be dismantled.
Just a month after the action curriculum team's visit, the community convened on June 1 what Ms deVere describes as a "kangaroo court".
She says: "It was orchestrated by many and played out by Alison Anderson and Rhonda Loades of ATSIC and Russell Totham and Sabina Smith of the department."
In a brief conversation I had with Ms Anderson in late October, she categorically denied that she had been involved in a "kangaroo court" and said that she had been invited to attend the meeting by the community. Ms Anderson told me she would grant me an interview on the subject on November 22.
Ms deVere says when she and the non-Aboriginal staff of the school went to the June 1 meeting, they were told to go away and wait at the school.
At the end of the day Ms Anderson announced in front of the entire staff that Ms deVere would have to go. Mr Totham was present and did not demur.
Ms deVere says she was told to leave Papunya Ð her home for nine years Ð at end of semester, three weeks away, and if she didn't agree, she would be evicted in 36 hours.
She was later told that her permit to live and work in the community was to be revoked. She says this was with the full knowledge of the department, and ATSIC.
She says the chairperson of the school council. Linda Allen Anderson, later requested a meeting with the departmental CEO and asked both ATSIC and the department for the minutes of the June 1 meeting. She was not successful on either count.
Ms deVere also requested the minutes from her line manager, Mr Totham, but was denied them.
The school council and some parents, 27 people all up, wrote a letter to department CEO Peter Plummer on September 4 that said in part:
"Diane has been a good principal .. she respects us and our culture and with her help our vision for our children's learning has happened. We want her to be able to keep working with us."
It was the start of a long struggle by Ms deVere for her employment rights and for a meaningful position within the department from which to make a contribution to Indigenous education.
After a harrowing two years, she felt she finally had no choice but to accept a redundancy package.
How could this have come about? Are we so endowed with highly qualified, experienced and committed school principals, willing to work in remote areas in this region, that we can turn our backs on one?
In response to my query, which went to the Minister, it took a spokesperson for the Department of Employment, Education and Training (NTDEET) more than a week to come up with this response:
"All principal positions in remote areas are filled and in fact there are only four vacancies for teachers throughout the Territory."
I then supplied a detailed list of questions to the department in an attempt to get more comprehensive information.
Their reply second time around amounted to no more than 100 words, recounting the bare bones of the Ms deVere's employment history. It did not answer any of the substance of my inquiries.
I asked them if the achievements of "The Papunya School Book of Country and History", which won the Eve Pownall Information Text Children's Book of the Year Awards 2002, and NSW Premier Carr's Junior History Award 2002 (worth $15,000), had ever been celebrated by the department? If not, why not? No answer.
I asked if former Chief Minister Denis Burke had been given a briefing about Ms deVere without her knowledge when he visited the school in April, 2001, during which visit council chairman Sid Anderson had asked Mr Burke what he was going to do about the school not teaching properly.
I asked why Ms deVere's line manager Mr Totham had not kept her informed and responded to her requests for information.
I asked what attempt had been made to mediate between dissatisfied community members and the school staff and council. And if no attempt was made (which is what Ms deVere asserts), why not?
I asked how the disgruntlement of a section of a community can bring about the eviction of a principal (I was sure it couldn't happen in an urban situation).
I asked if the department condoned this way of treating senior employees.
No answer.I asked how staff teaching in bush schools should view the precedent set by Ms deVere's case.
I asked what was the purpose of the June 1 meeting, the one described by Ms deVere as a "kangaroo court".
All the department had to say was this: "The position of principal at Papunya was upgraded and advertised in October 2001.
"It was filled shortly afterwards following normal Public Sector processes."
I asked a number of questions concerning another teacher who was removed from Papunya at the same time and has been on unpaid leave ever since.
I also asked community council chairman, Sid Anderson, why he had been worried about the school not teaching properly.
He was reluctant to return to the issues of 2001.
He said he was "trying to go forward, not backwards".
I asked was he going forward, in relation to the school?
He said, "not really", he was "stuck in the middle É with his kids".
I asked if he was happy with the way his kids are being schooled now?
He said, "not really".
Ms deVere lodged a grievance claim with the Commissioner for Public Employment in September 2001. It was disallowed one year later.
She says the investigation was "a total farce": "There was no visit to the community and only two staff members got a phone call."
I asked the department why her grievance would not have been investigated more thoroughly.
Ms deVere says her final two years with the department were marked by phone calls and emails not returned, unsolicited offers of redundancy, meetings asked for but declined, denial of even interviews for positions in the Alice Springs region for which she was qualified, and, again, negotiations behind her back.
Her attempts to get answers, information, justice went all the way to the top: to departmental CEO Peter Plummer and deputy CEO Katherine Henderson, to Chief Minister Clare Martin and Education Minister Syd Stirling.
In August she made an impassioned plea to Mr Stirling for his intervention, writing to him:
"I am in the usual cone of silence, which is so reminiscent of June 1  it is sickeningÉ
"I know about the reform agendas, I know about codes of conduct, rights and responsibilities, mutual obligation and accountability. I believe I have followed correct processes and protocols at all times and yet am being punished and treated outrageously.
"The silence and exclusion has taken its toll and I have lost all faith in the system."She says only after she had finally accepted her redundancy did Mr Stirling respond, saying that the matter was now closed.
Earlier this year Ms deVere had asked the Australian Education Union NT for help. (The union had in fact been involved since 2001 but, like Ms deVere, had trouble even getting replies to its correspondence.)Organizer Robert Laird told her that he had been approached by the department to see if she was interested in a redundancy, "not a common event".
Mr Laird became the go-between in the negotiations that led to Ms deVere's redundancy package. At one stage it was rejected by the Commissioner for Public Employment and Ms deVere was told to report to the general manager of schools in Darwin. She says when she asked if she would be offered a position in her field on interest she was told "probably not".
Under the clear impression that she was being pressured to resign, and "after two and a half years of being marginalised and treated with contempt," she ultimately accepted redundancy.
Mr Laird says because of her case, and another "political" removal of a principal, this time in an urban school, the union has negotiated new procedures with the department.
When a community is seeking action about a departmental employee, there should first be a meeting of that employee and representatives of all the parties Ð the department, the union and the community Ð to discuss the relevant issues.
Mr Laird said such a meeting would be essential "under the principles of natural justice".
He said he was disappointed rather than surprised by what had happened to Ms deVere.He said it reflected a lack of commitment by the department to communicate with its employees and with local communities, and a lack of commitment to "due process" that he found "deeply concerning".
However, he also said that he was even more concerned by the way the department's actions reflected a lack of commitment to Indigenous education.
"Ms deVere felt she had a lot to contribute to Indigenous education.
"She had a strong record at Papunya, which was acknowledged in the Territory and across Australia.
"The model has been used in other places, academics have been glowing about the achievements at Papunya in terms of Ôappropriate schooling' for Indigenous students, as have other authorities, including the Commonwealth Department of Education."He said the Territory Government has made numerous statements about its commitment to the implementation of the "Learning Lessons" recommendations, but the union sees "no activity" in the bush.
DESERT KNOWLEDGE: FRIENDLY BUT COMPETITIVE. Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.
The best way to benefit from the Desert Knowledge movement is to swap notes with your mates while still keeping a sharp eye on competition with them.
That's the view of a delegation from Broken Hill who visited The Alice last week Ð and found the two towns have stunningly similar projects.
Broken Hill is developing a horticultural project using recycled water and involving the traditional skills of a local Aboriginal clan, the Ngurri Ngurra, chopping its 18 hole golf course in halves to do so.
The delegation was a clever mix: Sharon Hocking is the president of the Chamber of Commerce, and while in Alice was elected to the board of Desert Knowledge Australia for Broken Hill.
Shorty Reville works for the Regional Development Board Ð a NSW Government instrumentality Ð which will kick off Broken Hill's horticultural project which will grow bush tucker, traditional medicinal plants, purple acacia which he says is a "very valuable" construction timber, thousands of olive trees for table oil production, and collect eucalypt seeds and propagate seedlings of which there is a shortage in Australia.
Once up and running Mr Reville will seek a private enterprise organisation to take over.
And May Ann Zammit represented Australian Inland, western NSW's answer to our Power Water, a key player in the water recycling project Ð as P&W is in The Alice's planned horticultural project.
Mining is winding down in Broken Hill but Mrs Hocking says there plenty of resources in the historic town: they're locked up in the heads of many locals who have accumulated a wealth of knowledge about mining over the decades.
"There is still a lot of expertise that we can share with desert communities," says Mrs Hocking, not only in mining but in desert housing, bush foods, sustainable energy and tourism.
"These are the main commodities from the desert," she says.
The link between Alice and Broken Hill started with a visit last year from an Alice delegation, including Mayor Fran Kilgariff and Desert Knowledge Australia's Mike Crowe.
And there's clearly competition of ambition.
Says Mrs Hocking: "In Broken Hill we want zero waste Ð everyone is employed, we cut out waste of water, build better housing and aim for using natural cooling."
Who'll get there first?
'GET A JOB' COUNCIL WORKERS TELL BOSSES. Report by COURTNEY WHITMAN.
Town council workers want their bosses to be sacked.
Of 54 members of the outside workforce, 53 voted in favour of a motion of no confidence in Planning and Infrastructure Director Roger Bottrall, and Senior Engineer Henry Szczypiorski.
One member abstained.
In a letter to the council the workers said the two men had an "abhorrent lack of ability to consult and communicate," and had an "appalling attitude and animosity to the management and employees" of the works depot.
The depot employees stated that "this causes a major and unnecessary hindrance to the effective and timely supply of services" provided by them, and suggested Mr Botrall and Mr Szczypiorski "consider seeking an alternative position of employment".
But the depot employees "confirmed their total confidence, trust and committed support of the abilities and leadership qualities" of the depot managers and supervisors, Shaun Leyland, Peter Bourne, Rick Palmer and Trevor Packham.
Mr Bottrall and Mr Szczypiorski were unavailable for comment.
A spokesperson for the Mayor and the town council aldermen said they were not prepared to make a statement at this time.
Council CEO Rex Mooney said aldermen had been briefed on the matter at a special meeting on Friday.
"The matter is operational and as such falls under the responsibility of the CEO," said Mr Mooney."I am endeavouring to resolve these issues as quickly and efficiently as possible, and in the meantime operations at the depot will continue as per usual.
"Council has a very dedicated workforce right across the organisation.
"In view of ongoing negotiations, no further comment can be made at this stage."
The works depot employees asked for a reply to their letter by the end of the month.
'BUSH BUILDER' SALE GOES WELL.
More than 100 registered buyers spent more than $100,000 when equipment belonging to "bush builder" Patrick Brown came under the hammer on Saturday.
Mr Brown says he's now concentrating on "town work", and on his ambitious plan for a major subdivision on the family property, White Gums.
Auctioneer Jock McPherson, of Elders, says negotiations are in progress for major items of equipment, including a prime mover mounted crane, which are tipped to more than double the sales figure.
Mr McPherson says a good number of the buyers were pastoralists expanding their equipment after a string of good seasons.
There's a big build-up of cattle numbers and with expectations of dry time ahead, record numbers are being turned off to properties in the south-east of the nation, recovering from the long drought.
Mr McPherson says prices are lower when compared to recent years when the main sales were fat cattle fetching $450 to $600.
But he says sale numbers are at record level, with his own company in the past four months selling some 40,000 head, a number usually moved in a full year.
"The average price is down on two years ago, when cattle were in a lot better condition and people were selling basically fat cattle," says Mr McPherson.
"Now they're selling a lot of calves and plainer type cattle due to dry conditions."
PICTURED after the sale are vendor Patrick Brown (second from right) with Elders staff (from left): Bronwyn Duncan, Simon Brain, Joe Golotta, Jock McPherson and Jane Schultz.
Judy Robinson, artist, author and one of the five white children born in Alice Springs in 1931, is on the lookout for images of Alice, then Stuart, 100 years ago.
Judy has given herself the task of creating 12 paintings to commemorate life in Stuart in 1903.
But with a passion for history and the truth of detail, she does not want to resort to imagination.
All the works will be based on photographs from the period, yet, Judy says, "we are on the edge of time" for getting them.
She knows from experience that time costs history its documents.
"They get lost, borrowed and not returned, or sometimes when someone dies, before anything can be done, they all finish up at the dump.
"Some have also been lost when they were sent to Darwin, though through no fault of the archives there."
Pictured is Sergeant Stott's house on the site of the present day courthouse. The small building to the right is the police lock-up, Stuart Town Gaol, still standing.
Judy assures us that the street corner was actually as empty as that: "The town was full of very big spaces."Also pictured is a detail of another work, showing a grass hut "village" in the old Eastside area.
Judy suggests that local Aboriginal people had received outside direction on how to make these huts, quite unlike their own shelters.
Why this series of paintings?
Judy says she wants to draw people's attention to "the place we were so enamoured of".
Although she wasn't born until almost three decades later, the Alice of her early memories was much more like Stuart of 1903 than like the Alice of today Ð "so much more soulless".
But, says Judy, it is also good for people to understand how much the town has grown since then and to appreciate the efforts of the people who have made that happen.
"It was such a struggle, so hard to win over the distance and the isolation. The people who did or who even tried, they designed Ôthe Outback', with their courage, determination, their sheer will power."
Judy says that when she went away to secondary school she discovered that she and other children from "the real Outback" were far from "hicks from the bush".
"We were well educated. The adults around us were very politically and historically aware and the few books they had, had to be worth reading. "They had a lot of time to think, and when they got together they would exchange ideas and information and argue. As children we soaked it all up and by our teens we had turned our minds to many subjects.
"Really, we had a lot of advantages. We had the best of three wolds.
"We were raised by Aboriginal women who stepped out of the bush as if magically to take care of us, to teach us tracking, how to survive, where to look for berries, where to dig for yalkas.
""We had the tough white world of the bush and later we had our taste of the cities.
"We took it all for granted then."
Now, Judy, with many of her generation, seeks to honour that past and to bring it to life for those too young to remember. Working with paint and brush, at a time when many people are also too busy to read much, is one way to do that.
So far Judy has found source images for nine out of her planned 12 paintings. As well as those pictured, they show: a whip well where the hospital now stands; a police camp at Heavitree Gap before the police station was built; the Stuart Arms; Charlie Meyers' saddle shop; Todd Street; the brewery .
She needs three more. If you can help contact Judy on 8952 5214.
GROG RUNNING: 21 ARRESTS IN WESTERN DESERT. Report by KIERAN FINNANE.
A drop in the ocean or are police stemming the flow of grog into Western Desert communities?
When Police Ministers from Northern Territory and Western Australia recently visited Kintore community to sign a Statement of Intent for the joint operation of the new police station there, grog-running was one of the key concerns expressed by community representatives.
Monica Nangala Robinson named names and also had some solutions of her own to put forward.
Attending court in Alice Springs, she said, is often an opportunity for offenders to bring more grog back into the community. She wanted the Police Ministers to think about offenders attending court in Kalgoorlie, rather than Alice, and "let them make their own way back".
The latter looks unlikely under present legislation: offences will be heard in the jurisdiction where they are committed.However, Southern Region Commander Gary Manison assured her that apprehending grog-runners is a priority for police.
Indeed, that day police officers accompanying the official visitors, rather than drive back to Papunya and Alice Springs, stayed behind in Kintore to investigate the allegations and continue to follow the matter up, Cmdr Manison told the Alice Springs News.
He says that in the past three months in the Western Desert area, there have been 21 routine operations, such as traffic patrols, and three special operations supported by Alice Springs Police, resulting in the apprehension of grog-runners.
Police made 21 arrests, issued three summonses, tipped out 66.5 litres of alcohol and seized five vehicles.
The arrests were for charges ranging from personal consumption to trading and on-selling, all in a restricted area.
The quantity of alcohol is not great Ð let's say 33 two-litre casks of port, or 17 four-litre casks of wine Ð but the penalty, in terms of loss of vehicle pending the discretion of the court, is significant.
The court can decide in some instances to confiscate the vehicle permanently. Until the case is heard, the vehicle is impounded.
"We know grog gets through but we do spend an inordinate amount of time and money trying to stop it and we do have some successes," says Cmdr Manison.
In particular after a targeted operation, communities feel the benefit of police action, he says.
"If the grog is not there, they don't have the problems they otherwise would."
Targeting relies on information coming from the community and also on general knowledge, like being aware of when more than usual amounts of money are becoming available.
Closer to Alice, at Hemannsburg, police have seized four grog-running vehicles in the past three weeks. Three of the four seizures were the result of community members "dobbing the grog-runners in".
Three of the vehicles were late models worth a total of $50,000, two privately owned, one owned by a government-funded agency.
A big problem for police in the Western Desert restricted area Ð at present the responsibility of the Papunya Police Ð is the myriad of back roads and bush tracks that fishbone out off the main road from Papunya to the West Australian border, taking in Papunya, Haasts Bluff, Mt Liebig and Kintore.
"With the opening of the Kintore police station in December, the combined policing efforts of both stations will see more patrols conducted against liquor offences with greater effect," says Cmdr Manison.
"At present, I wouldn't say we are winning but we are stemming the flow of liquor."
"I SHOT THE ABORIGINAL WHO WAS STANDING OVER ME, IN THE HEAD. THE OTHERS WERE STILL BELTING ME." Part Ten of a Feature by DICK KIMBER.
'Real True History': The Coniston Massacre
The Attacks Attack on Henry Tilmouth and Nugget Morton, and the Second Police Patrol.
In contrast to the understandable fear of those in the direct line of travel by Constable Murray's police patrol, a small group further south acted in a strong or "cheeky" way, depending on one's perspective.
Henry Edward Tilmouth, part owner of Napperby station with his mate Turner, discovered that a plan to spear him had existed. He was camped on the Lander when, towards the end of August, as he told Michael Terry:-
"Amongst the rocks of a huge stony ridge hard by his bough shed blacks began to ill-treat a piccanninny, hoping that its cries would draw him out of camp. Several bucks with spears were secreted ready to murder him. But fortunately he had a very good and loyal boy who advised him of the plan.
Having failed in the ruse, another buck came up to camp, taunting him: ÔThis one black feller country; nothing want Ôem white man, white feller shift, can't sit down longa black feller.'
He then ran away.
An hour or two later the same performance was repeated and again at sundown. Tilmouth fired at him without leaving his camp. Well it was that he did so, for next morning his boy showed him tracks where three bucks had been planted behind bushes in readiness to spear him directly he came into the open."
What he failed to mention was the possibility that, from a southern Warlpiri perspective, he thoroughly deserved to be speared. Dinny Japaltjarri showed me a site near Central Mt Wedge which told a tale. The overcast day and light drizzle of rain had triggered the story, and Bryan Bowman's knowledge of all of the station men involved has complemented Dinny's account.
Warlpiri families had travelled from west of Central Mount Wedge due south, then via the Haasts Bluff country to Glen Helen. The men had speared one of owner Fred Raggatt's draft horses, butchered it and taken the choicest parts. Fred came upon it shortly afterwards, and was savage.
He had been a teamster in his pioneering days in the Centre, and appreciated his big old draft horses far more than he appreciated most people. He, his only long-term mate George Tucker, Archie Giles of neighbouring Redbank station, and Tilmouth had followed their tracks.
The raid by the Ngaliya Warlpiri had been timed to coincide with a rainy spell, but the rain had not been as heavy as anticipated. Instead of wiping out their tracks, it left them plain to follow.
How many people were there? Dinny did not know, but as he understood that there were three to five families, he and I determined that 10 to 15 was a likely number. As it was late afternoon and a cold, light drizzle of rain was falling, the families took their horse-meat and their fire-sticks into some rock-shelters, perched a little way up on a range section west of Central Mount Wedge.
Dinny believed that, as the station men approached, a draft of wind had caused the fire-sticks to flare, and given their hiding place away. The station men had taken up position among the boulders beneath the rock-shelters, from which there was no escape other than coming out into the open. Their rifles had poured the bullets in, and ricocheting bullets had been deadly.
After a time the shouts of the men, and the screams of the women and children, ceased. No-one ever came out of the rock-shelters alive, and Dinny's family never used them again.
Much the same was happening during the encounters on the police patrol, which George Murray and Jack Saxby later said was not a punitive patrol. (Everyone's definition varies.)
As the patrol's activities increased, those most traumatised by loss of family members sometimes travelled further than ever before. Despite the drought, new widows with children followed ancient "chains of connection", often to the north through country they knew men on horseback could not follow.
On a visit to Yuendumu in the late 1980s I met one woman whose mother had finally found sanctuary with the Gurindji at Wave Hill station. As Peter and Jay Read indicate in their fine 1991 publication, "Long Time, Olden Time", while Blind Alec Jupurrula's mother fled to what later became Mount Doreen station country, he fled with his aunty to Wave Hill.
Indeed, according to Alex Wilson, when he was shortly afterwards at Banka Banka on the way to Darwin, he heard that some "two hundred" Warlpiri people had fled to Wave Hill. This seems too high, but it was at Wave Hill, that the wonderful old character Engineer Jack Japaljarri, as he told the Reads, also instantly heard the news. As he put it five decades later, having had an understanding of World War II in between, it was as though "Aborigines and whitefeller bin startem war".
¥¥¥Late in August, 1928 an old Anmatyerre man visited Nugget Morton's camp on the Lander. He had almost certainly heard news of the police patrol's activities, but would have been careful in his approach to the camp in any case, so that he did not offend Nugget.
He saw that Nugget was carefully cleaning and oiling his rifle. Nugget was unusual among the Lander River country pastoralists in that he was quite fluent in the local languages.
William Brown Jampitjinpa continued this story while I was at Brooks Soak. Nugget Morton told the old man that he was getting his rifle ready to go out and shoot a "killer" (a beast to be used as meat). There was something about the way that Nugget said this that caused the old man to think otherwise. "He is not going for a killer. He is getting the rifle ready to shoot some blackfellows."
The old man travelled out west to a camp in which were a number of men, and they planned to attack Nugget before he could start shooting. That this occurred is supported by subsequent events.
William John "Nugget" Morton was an immensely powerful man, yet also quick and light on his feet when he needed to be. Although he felt sure of his superiority over the local Anmatyere people, he and his partner in Broadmeadows station, a man called Sandford, had "received continual threats of violence" early in 1928.
According to Michael Terry, Nugget kept two savage dogs as added protection. Although Nugget asserts that all of the men involved in the attack on him were of the "Walmalla tribe", implying that they were from much further west, that he could also identify numbers of them suggests that several were local Anmatyerre men.
The group made a simple plan: they would poison the dogs, and attack Nugget as a group. After the dogs had been poisoned, and after an initial approach to his camp had made him wary, the attack took place. Much as one can question Nugget's assertion that all were Walmalla men, there is no reason to doubt his story of the attack, which now follows in slightly altered order of detail.
"After sunrise the next morning [28th August] I was having breakfast when three natives walked to my fire. I knew them, some by name. I told them to go back and sit down. Immediately one blackfellow walked to my fire again and said he was hungry and wanted beef. He spoke in his own lingo which I can speak and understand.
"Without looking up I handed him a piece of beef from the dish. He immediately seized my wrist Ð my right wrist, swung behind me and caught the other arm behind me. The other two were on me in an instant. While endeavouring to throw them off I saw a mob of blacks rush out of the titree in front of me.
"The only thing I could do was make for the revolver that was in my swag. The three who were holding me hit me with their closed fists, anywhere they could get a hit on me. On gaining my revolver I was belted over the head with a nulla nulla.
"I don't remember how many hits I got, but I got more than one. The hits on the head put me in a very dazed condition. One big Aboriginal was standing over me with a nulla nulla going to bash me over the head. I was then standing up wrestling with the other fellow who had hold of me. I shot the Aboriginal who was standing over me, in the head. The others were still belting me."[I] got hit also with a boomerang on the chin, face and head. I also got my thumb broken by a boomerang when I was getting hold of a revolver.
"I held my left arm up to save my head and was just about all in when they left.
"After I tied up the cuts on my head from which I was losing a lot of blood and suffering great pain É I got my horses and made my way back to my main camp which I reached in a very weak state from bruises and loss of blood."
As Michael Terry indicates, it was his partner Sandford "who got him to the overland telegraph line, where an A.I.M. [Australian Inland Mission] sister, by the greatest good fortune motoring by, dressed his wounds".
Bill Heffernan of Ti-tree shaved his head, and he and the nursing sister spent some time getting the splinters of boomerang out of his scalp before applying the dressings.
Warlpiri men remained amazed at Nugget's immense strength when they talked to me of this incident in the 1970s. They laughed, appreciated how tough he had been, and also laughed at the idea of the Warlpiri getting in so close in so many numbers that they hampered one another in their attack. He was likened to the then very popular comic-book hero, "The Phantom."
Nugget stated that "about fifteen" men had attacked him, and the Warlpiri men agreed with this number. They had heard that he hurled men from him in his struggle to reach his revolver.
After shaking himself free like an angry bull, he had swung his arms like flailing fence-posts. Some of the Warlpiri had been thrown three to four metres away.
It was a great story, and none of them blamed him for having shot the main attacker, Walgardu.
While all of this was going on, John Cawood received other news.
The prospectors Young and Carter, who had met Fred Brooks a few days before his murder, had reported the news of threatening Warlpiri to Sergeant Noblett, who had reported it to Cawood. Michael Terry had told of seeing Walmulla warriors in war-paint; shootings at marauders (without effect) by Randal Stafford and Jack Saxby on the 31st August; and passed on a further appeal from Randal Stafford for urgent assistance in dealing with those who were causing the depredations.
If this wasn't enough, the troubles at Pine Hill had not yet been dealt with. Constable Murray hardly had time to hand over the prisoners Padygar and Arkirkra and the witness Lala in Stuart Town before John Cawood approved his second patrol.
Although no clear and certain details survive of this patrol, it is probable that Murray again took Police Paddy and Major, added a station volunteer or two from Pine Hill to his number and also obtained horses there, then travelled north along the Hanson.
After that he probably returned by a circuitous route to Pine Hill before continuing to Coniston station in the police motor vehicle.
There he would again have had the assistance of Randal Stafford, Jack Saxby, Alex Wilson and, because of the need for horses, Billy Briscoe.
On the basis of all other surviving accounts of what transpired, there can be little doubt that at least one sizeable group was met, which one can reasonably predict would have meant that the majority of men were shot.
However Mervyn Hartwig, who thoroughly researched the events in the late 1950s, was only able to determine that the patrol took place from the 4th-13th September.
Accounts recorded since that time, in particular those recorded during Land Rights hearings in the late 1970s-1980s; several filmed in Bob Plasto's 1985 film, "The Killing Times"; some recorded by Grace and Harold Koch in their 1993 book "Kaytetye Country"; and yet others recently recorded by Central Land Council staff, include some (excluding Tippenbah) which I believe relate to this patrol.
Oral histories, which can only be approximations in time, indicate that, as might be expected, the patrol travelled north along the Hanson River from Pine Hill, having three encounters; from Coniston travelled north along the Lander River country where two more encounters took place; then followed down the Lander and had two more encounters in the general Coniston area.
If this is so, it is difficult not to envisage the death-rate substantially increasing. Grace and Harold Koch were told of particular episodes near Baxter's Bore on the Hanson which tell of the shooting of three men and the burning of their bodies, and the arrest and neck-chaining of two men.
Women and children who were in the camp were spared, and a few who fled and other people who were out hunting also avoided the shootings.
On the basis of two deaths every other encounter, which is the lowest number of deaths at all other encounters, 12 more men are likely to have been shot. Many more are, in fact, likely to have died, but there is absolutely no written account from 1928 to indicate that any at all were shot.
The only further formally recorded evidence, which supports the oral histories, is that two more prisoners were brought in to Alice Springs. Since they were not later tried for Fred Brooks' murder, their charges probably related to cattle killing. They must have been tried in the local Alice Springs court by one of the two local Alice Springs magistrates and given local hard labour.
There is no doubt, from the Koch accounts, that despite the severity of the drought, people fled in all directions again.
As Mervyn Hartwig recorded, during the time of this patrol Government Resident Cawood telegrammed the Department of Home and Territories on the 4th September to let the authorities know that 17 Aborigines had been shot during the first Murray patrol, and requested that more police be sent up to the Centre.
When he received news of the attack on Nugget Morton, apparently on the 8th, he must have discussed matters with Sergeant Noblettt. It seems that they decided to await the outcome of George Murray's second patrol, knowing that he was almost certainly going to be travelling in the general area of Nugget's Broadmeadows station, before instigating any other action.
In addition to this they were saved having to act on the 10th when Henry Tilmouth of Napperby sooled his dog onto "two niggers" who came up to his camp late in the evening, and when they started to "bolt" he "fired a shot to frighten them", then sooled his dog "onto them again".
By now, though, a Central Australian citizen or visitor, whose name is not known, had travelled to Adelaide, and on the 11th September the first news of the first patrol was in a major newspaper.
John Cawood no doubt realised that George Murray and his trackers needed a spell after their latest patrol, and they returned to Barrow Creek on the 16th September. On this same day Henry Tilmouth again solved the problem of an attack on him in frontier style. As he recounted:
"On 16th September one nigger sneaked up near my bed at the well and my nigger ran up and told me the blacks were sneaking up. I walked out about 25 yards and fired one shot. The nigger did not move and I started to walk towards him. The dog also went after him. He ran a little way and I tried to load the rifle but the bullet jammed in the bridge.
"I took about ten minutes to get the bullet out: I could see the nigger coming up on the other side. I called on him to stop. As soon as I spoke he raised the boomerang to throw it. I had the rifle to my shoulder. I fired at him.
"The bullet entered his body over the heart. I had no further trouble with the blacks."
NEXT: Encounters on the third patrol.
A dish too far. COLUMN by STEVE FISHER.
Two men from an Alice Springs satellite television company came to my house recently.
During their visit, they installed an object on the roof whose purpose is to broadcast to the rest of the neighbourhood how shallow I am.
As an additional benefit, this dish-shaped device brings multiple channels of television of varying quality into my living room. On the down side, there are sitcoms so old that Frasier has a full head of hair, and space adventures where the crew of the Starship Enterprise look like teenagers. Sports matches are frequently repeated. Home shopping is even less attractive than I thought it was.
On the other hand, I receive a European view of the war in Iraq that presents events through a completely different lens than that to which I have become accustomed from CNN. According to the BBC, for example, there is an expensive crisis going on which is causing the United Nations to call urgent meetings. Much wringing of hands is in evidence together with growing regret that we managed to get into this predicament in the first place. So it's not all bad.
This is how television is. Either very useful or plain useless and never anything in-between. It might be fun seeing large and speedy forwards charging through the puny tackles of minor rugby nations (useful). But then the whole country grinds to a halt on a weekday so we can watch 24 horses charge around an oval course watched by posh people wearing silly hats (useless). None of this would be possible without the wonders of multi-camera television coverage. This is yet one more reason to curse the telly.
But then again, who am I to talk? I let those serious satellite blokes clamber on my roof. I stood by while they aimed the dish at a precise point in the sky, making the transmitters on Heavitree Gap suddenly redundant. But the truth always comes out. And in this case the truth is that most of the time the lure of the television is overwhelming even if only to watch actors pretend to be doctors and politicians pretend to be sincere.
In Central Australia it's either too hot or too cold to do anything else and I'm far too tired and grumpy for parlour games. As someone once said, telly is chewing gum for the eyes.
Related to this, I have a theory that stress is never caused by overwork, moving house, getting divorced or any of the other events that are supposed to contribute to the condition. It is caused by loss of control.
Actually, this sounds too smart to be my theory. An eminent Professor of Stress Management at some regional academic institution probably wrote a series of papers about it in the eighties.
But if I stole his ideas, you can steal mine and the world is surely a better place.
Anyway, this loss of control over life is only truly mitigated by a prolonged period on the couch. Not the psychiatrist's couch but the potato couch where the root vegetables among us live.
Rumour has it that interactive technologies will soon take over and nobody will want the old-fashioned telly any more. We'll all be completely wired to tiny devices that obey every click and voice command, downloading instantaneous racing coverage and actors pretending to be doctors.
This will never happen (what do you mean, it already has?). The trouble with interactive media is that you have to interact with it, which is far too demanding for the couch potato generation that we baby boomers have become.
I was hoping that someone would invent a satellite television dish that looks like an evaporative air conditioner. Then I could be shallow and nobody would ever need to know.
Exposed by my own mates! COLUMN by ANN CLOKE.
"Have you run out of things to write about?" John asked on Friday night, when David and I had a little get-together with Norm, Lee, Ian, Francoise, Anne, William, John, Stephanie, Sarah, George and others, to reacquaint them with Sally (David's youngest daughter) and husband Colin and to introduce Harry, David's newest grandson, now eight months old.
It's been busy. Harry's first visit to the Centre and we've immersed ourselves in Alice pastimes Ð mall walks, leisurely lunches, barbeque breakfasts, a stroll through our beautiful Olive Pink Botanical Gardens, a glorious Melbourne Cup day out at the track, an afternoon at Panorama Guth and pool-side fun in the sun.
I collected my photos (two rolls of dear little Harry in and around Alice) from Paul, who mentioned that last week's piece, "Woolly Issues", made him think it could be time for David to take me away againÉwhich he did.
We headed west along our beautiful MacDonnells on Thursday: fresh green growth, which wasn't there a month ago, is fast covering the burnt out tracts of land alongside the Namatjira Highway, although Dave and Sue, managers out at Glen Helen Homestead said the countryside still needs a really good soaking.
Glen Helen has always been local friendly and, as we found when we took Harry out, it's also relatively child friendly. He had his own cot and highchair, while Tim and Matt, local musicians, played Braham's Lullaby especially for Harry, much to the amusement of other house-guests.
Quiet times have been few, and thinking about next week's topic, with all this extra activity in the house, is proving impossible. (How do full-time parents cope?)
When I was gainfully employed in the real estate industry, I managed to find time, within a busy schedule, to commit ideas to paper. Of late, I've become part of the Saturday morning brigade, not early bird shopping or cruising around lawn sales, but checking out the auction properties.
It's obviously a popular pastime because, depending on where the property is, I often bump into the same people! Different real estate agents, diverse properties but, more often than not, the same preambleÉan invitation to walk through the home and imagine if you and your family would like to live there.
Books reflect residents Ð novels, hobbies, DIY, the odd bible, an anthology of prose sitting alongside self-help manuals , how to be a better person.
A couple of weeks ago, at an exclusive Old Eastside address, I noticed a title which has stood the test of time: "All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten" by Robert Fulghum. I flicked through our copy when I got home:
¥ share everything;
¥ play fair;
¥ don't hit people;
¥ put things back where you found them;
¥ clean up your own mess;
¥ don't take things that aren't yours;
¥ say you're sorry when you hurt somebody;
¥ wash your hands before you eat;
¥ live a balanced life Ð learn, think, read, love, dance, paint, play, work and rest every day;
¥ take a nap every afternoon;
¥ when you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together;
¥ be aware of wonder; and,v¥ remember the first word in your first reader Ð "look".
I didn't take Harry along to his first auction sale on Saturday. He was sleeping. David and I haven't had to overly concern ourselves with time-tables or rules for years, but we have recently reintroduced a sense of order around the house.
When I was at the auction, I thought about another set of rules, the code of ethics and real estate mantra: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" É which all agents are supposed to observe. It's an easy enough rule to practise, and together with the simple philosophies expounded in "All I Really Need to KnowÉ" provides a great code for any person, young or old, to live by.
I may give our copy to little Harry for future developmentÉand I'm going to check to see if our time management book includes a chapter on babies, titled "Who's Controlling Whom and How to Remain Completely Focused and Function Normally (?) in the Presence of an Eight Month Old".
Hopefully, once I've done that, I'll un-clutter and concentrate totally on the matters at hand and keyboard.
ALICE FESTIVAL WAS A PEARLER. Report by KIERAN FINNANE.
With some 19,000 attendances this year, the Alice Springs Festival has proven that it can stand on its own two feet, says Festival Director Dianne Mills.The attendances are on par with last year's when the festival was run as part of the Year of the Outback celebrations.
In its first year it combined with the Yeperenye Federation Festival and the associated CAAMA Fringe Festival, so this year was its first stand-alone run.
The figures show consolidating community ownership of the event, says Ms Mills, who estimates visitor participation at 15 to 20 per cent.
She says the street parade in Todd Mall was the perfect way to launch the festival, creating a buzz, an atmosphere of anticipation across a broad cross-section of the community.
All of the festival's signature events were deemed very successful. Organisers have estimated the crowd at the street parade at 5500; 280 people bought tickets for the masquerade ball; Wearable Arts was a sell-out event, with 500 attending; Desert Song had an audience of 1900, an increase of some 500 on last year.
Audiences for the busking competition in the mall held over several days varied from 60 to 168.
Determined as ever to make the festival an annual highlight for Alice Springs, the committee has already posted dates for next year's event: September 3 to 12.
These dates have been signalled on several websites and on event calendars around Australia.
A first submission for funding has been made and discussions with Arts NT about core funding are proceeding, with an announcement due at the end of the year.
Ms Mills says this funding should provide for at least a general manager's position, which would be a "great leap forward in terms of sustainability".
A separate submission for support is being made to the Northern Territory Government and there have been preliminary discussions with the Alice Springs Town Council.
The festival committee will be staging a benefit concert at Witchetty's on December 12, "a big bang Club Feva", to make a start on support for next year's event.
Ms Mills is taking a well-earned break, while Ingrid Laguna, who organised this year's street parade and busking competition, will take on the acting director's role.
The festival office, now in wind-down mode, will re-open at the end of January in the new Redhot Arts Space, to be shared by eight arts organizations.
RUGBY: INJURIES, OBLIGATIONS AFFECT GAME. Report by PAUL FITZSIMONS.
With the Beach Party at the Memorial Club, Bob Downe at Araluen and the Qantas Ball fat the Convention Centre, perhaps the obligations of Saturday night in the Centre as well as a growing number of injuries contributed to the result of rugby games at Anzac Oval on Saturday.In the early game the Eagles went to war against the Devils, at an advantage from the time they crossed the white line as the young Federals ran on with only 12 players.
To add to their woes, Nelson Honner popped a shoulder in the game, so reducing the numbers even more.
In the first half it was a competitive encounter as the Eagles took oranges with the score at 7-5.The challenge of the game took its toll in the second session, however, as Eagles added 19 points to the Devils' seven , ending the game at 26 to 12.
The Devils literally ran out of steam.
For the Eagles Shane Kerr, Joel Peckham and Martin Forrest each scored a try. Mick Hauser then added value by converting three out of three.
For the Devils Davin Turner scored two tries and Damien Birch converted one.The CARU were again given a bolster with a referee from Darwin present, development officer Andrew Jackson.
This was appreciated by the Warriors and the Cubs and the game got off to a good start.
Warriors, however, established the ascendancy and ran out winners over the Cubs, 31 to 15.
The Cubs numbers diminished as the game went on, perhaps due to the obligations players had in another part of their lives, with their force being reduced to 12 men.
In scoring 31, Henry Labastida, Mick Ross, and Damien Timms, each scored a try.
Chris Blacker was rewarded with two tries and James Shelford scored three conversions.
The Cubs had Brian Castine and Peter Hendry each score a try, with Mark Hooper converting one and Castine scoring a penalty goal.
Round one of the season is now complete and the Warriors sit on top of the ladder undefeated. Cubs are second.
As a result of Saturday's win the Eagles are third while Devils, yet to break the ice, are fourth.
This week we see the Cubs and Eagles face each other while the Warriors play the Devils. Anzac Oval gates open at 3pm for the High Schools to have a run, with the A Grade playing from 5.30 pm.
WHAT A RUN FEAST IN CRICKETING PARADISE. Report by PAUL FITZSIMONS.
Ideal weather, tailor made wickets, and a shortage of fieldsmen created a cricketing heaven for the batting sides in A Grade cricket on Saturday.
The dominance of the bat has set up a real challenge in the chase for runs on the second day of play this weekend.
At both Traeger Park and Albrecht Oval the willow dominated, with RSL setting themselves well against Federal by scoring 9 -331, and West making a great return to form with 4-367 after 80 overs.
The West camp had most to cheer about as to date they have battled in the competition, sitting fourth on the premiership table.
Having the opportunity to bat first, the Bloods opener Adam Stockwell scored a fine 87. Stockwell showed tremendous promise as a junior and is now at the point of moulding some substantial innings for West.
The opener was supported in the order by Kevin Mezzone, who remained not out at the end of the innings with 84.
The star of the show, however, was recruit Luke Spragg, who took all before him to notch up a century.
In losing only four wickets, West now have the runs to dictate terms.
However the Albrecht pitch was almost like a road on Saturday and repeat conditions this week will give Rovers with more than a glimmer of hope.
The Rovers attack on the weekend was shell shocked with the absence of Greg McAdam, Greg Dowell and big Brad Tanner. These omissions represent the core of the Rover bowling attack, and with the absence of Peter "Stats" Kleinig the field was in disarray.For Federal at Traeger Park the picture was little better. Skipper Jason Swain had to leave early in proceedings and Matt Allen had work commitments late in the day.RSL Works enjoyed first use of the pitch, and with Swain battling to give of his best as a leader, the Razzle soon established themselves through the opening stand.
Graham Schmidt, in ever reliable form, built an innings of 44 before being caught by Matt Fennell off Jarrad Wapper.
At the other end Rod Dunbar made 21, but with Schmidt established a partnership of 71. From there RSL built their innings, as Tom Scollay continued his good form before falling to the pull shot.
Curtis Marriott accepted the catch off recent recruit Craig Galvin. Luke Southamt hen produced a memorable knock of 105 before being bowled off Wapper in going for a haymaker.
The innings was a credit to Southam who has been there with RSL for years. In supporting Southam, Matt Forster (21), Wayne Eglington (21) and Nathan Flanagan (not out 21) did their bit in the lower order.
Jarrad Wapper returned the best result for Federal with 4/80.
Galvin, in snaring 3/70, showed he can be effective with a style not unlike Wapper's.
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