2013 Australia – Significant Aboriginal Dates in Aboriginal History

Thursday 22nd August 2013

Today is the Anniversary of Freedom Day – The Gurindji Walk-Off from Wave Hill

From wage rights to land rights

In August 1966, Aboriginal pastoral workers walked off the job on the vast Vesteys’ cattle station at Wave Hill in the Northern Territory. At first they expressed their unhappiness with their poor working conditions and disrespectful treatment. Conversations between stockmen who had worked for Vesteys and Dexter Daniels, the North Australian Workers’ Union Aboriginal organiser, led to the initial walk off.

The next year the group moved to Wattie Creek, a place of significance to the Gurindji people. They asked Frank Hardy to ‘make a sign’ which included the word ‘Gurindji’, their own name for themselves. Their disaffection was deeper than wages and working conditions.

Although these stockmen and their families could not read, they understood the power of the white man’s signs. Now their name for themselves, written on a sign, asserted a claim to Gurindji lands.

“I bin thinkin’ this bin Gurindji country. We bin here longa time before them Vestey mob.” Vincent Lingiari. [1]

In 1967 after hearing Minister for the Interior Peter Nixon’s plan to dismiss the Gurindji claim to their land, Ted Egan wrote ‘Gurindji Blues’. A singer/songwriter who had a long association with Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory, Egan listened to the Gurindji people and recorded their views about land in the song.

‘Gurindji Blues’ was recorded by RCA records in 1971 with a young Yolngu spokesman, Galarrwuy Yunupingu, accompanying Egan.

1 Frank Hardy, The Unlucky Australians, One Day Hill, Melbourne, 1968; this edition London, 1981, p. 131.

National Museum Australia – Wave Hill Walk-Off

2013 Australia – Significant Aboriginal Dates in Aboriginal History

Friday 16th August 2013

Today is the Anniversary of the Gurindji Hand Back Day of 1975

Speech by the Prime Minister, Mr E.G. Whitlam, Q.C., M.P., at the Gurindji Land Ceremony
16 August 1975

“Vincent Lingiari and men and women of the Gurindji people.

“On this great day, I, Prime Minister of Australia, speak to you on behalf of the Australian people-all those who honour and love this land we live in.

“For them I want to say to you:

“First, that we congratulate you and those who shared your struggle, on the victory you have achieved nine years after you walked off Wave Hill Station Gurindji people in protest.

“I want to acknowledge that we Australians have still much to do to redress the injustice and oppression that has for so long been the loss of Black Australians.

“I want to promise you that this act of restitution which we perform today will not stand alone-your fight was not for yourselves alone and we are determined that Aboriginal Australians everywhere will be helped by it.

“I want to promise that, through their Government, the people of Australia will help you in your plans to use this land fruitfully for the Gurindji.

“And I want to give back to you formally in Aboriginal and Australian Law ownership of this land of your fathers.

“Vincent Lingiari, I solemnly hand to you these deeds as proof, in Australian law, that these lands belong to the Gurindji people and I put into your hands part of the earth itself as a sign that this land will be the possession of you and your children forever.”

Daguragu, 16 August 1975

National Museum Australia – Collaborating for Indigenous Rights

2013 Australia – Significant Aboriginal Dates in Aboriginal History

Tuesday 11th June 2013

On this day in 2000 over 55,000 people Walked for Reconciliation across the bridge over the River Torrens in the heart of Adelaide. 

Article by John Bond in People Building Peace

Reconciliation Australia Bridge Walk Fact Sheet



2013 Australia – Significant Aboriginal Dates in Aboriginal History

Monday 10th June 2013

Today is the 175th Anniversary of the infamous massacre of Aboriginal peoples at Myall Creek in Northern New South Wales which occurred inn June 1838 fifty one (51) years after the British began their penal colony near Sydney cove. 

The story of Myall Creek

2013 Australia – Significant Aboriginal Dates in Aboriginal History

Tuesday 4th June 2013

On this day in 2000 over 60,000 people walked across the William Jolly Bridge in Brisbane in support for Aboriginal peoples and Reconciliation

Reconciliation Australia Bridge Walk Fact Sheet

people walking across a bridge

Reconciliation March across Brisbane’s William Jolly Bridge,
4 June 2000. Photo © Ed Parker.