On the Road

Native title in Australia is sometimes celebrated as a successful form of recognition for Indigenous people. But the way the law works means the rights of Indigenous people are required to co-exist with those of settlers and their descendants. This is the case in Wilinggin in the Kimberley region of North West Australia. Here, Ngarinyin people who never ceded their land live alongside cattle station owners, tourism operators and other Aboriginal people, and though their native title rights have been legally recognised, they don’t have the right to veto activities on their land, nor straightforward access to it.

In this episode we take a journey to the Kimberley, where the brutal history of the cattle industry’s colonial past continues to resonate. We make stops along the Gibb River Road to hear from Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. Each of them spoke with Cameo Dalley, sharing their experiences of living on the Road, its history and what they envisage for the future. 

The stories in this episode ask challenging questions about whether and how coexistence might work in practice, and how it reinforces colonial relationships of power. It prompts us to think about how these kinds of relationships might endure in our own lives and communities.

Listeners are warned that the episode includes the name of an Aboriginal person that has died. His name is used with permission.

Episode Excerpts

Episode Transcript

Additional resources

Many Indigenous artists have visually depicted their stories about Kimberley history. You can learn more and support them by purchasing their works at the Mowanjum Aboriginal Art & Culture Centre, Waringarri Aboriginal Arts and the Warmun Arts Centre.

Magabala Books is a Kimberley-based publishing company where you can buy some great texts about Aboriginal people’s lives and history, written by Indigenous authors. It is not-for-profit and stocks some particularly beautiful children’s books. It’s also mentioned in ‘Radical Poetics: Writing Forward, Writing Blak’, another episode of this podcast.

To learn more about development across the Kimberley, including mining, we recommend the podcast Wrong Skin and the film Undermined: Tales from the Kimberley.

The National Native Title Tribunal has a range of resources about native title in Australia, including information and maps showing various claims in Australia.

If you’re on Twitter follow @IndigenousX to hear from a diverse set of Australian Indigenous people about issues that matter to them.

If you’re planning to visit the Kimberley, and the Gibb River Road we encourage you to visit and stay at Home Valley Station, owned by the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation through their tourism enterprise Voyages. Home Valley Station provides direct employment opportunities for Indigenous people.

You can also visit Ellenbrae and Mount Elizabeth Station mentioned in this episode.

To learn more about the history of the pastoral industry in the Kimberley as told by Aboriginal people we recommend you track down copies of Raparapa: Stories from the Fitzroy River Drovers (2011) edited by Paul Marshall and When the Dust Come in Between (1999) edited by Bruce Shaw. Try your local secondhand bookstore!

For dedicated history buffs, we suggest you read Every Mother’s Son is Guilty: Policing the Kimberley Frontier 1882-1905 (2016) by Chris Owen, and Mary-Ann Jebb’s (2003) Blood Sweat and Welfare.

There are many Indigenous organisations that support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. We encourage you to seek out and make a donation to an Indigenous organisation in the local area near where you live. Two national organisations to support:

ANTaR is a national advocacy organisation that lobbies for Indigenous rights in Australia

The Healing Foundation supports Indigenous families and individuals impacted by intergenerational trauma.

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The Welcome? Podcast is based in Naarm, on the unceded lands of the Wurundjeri People of the Kulin Nation. Naarm is also known as Melbourne, Australia.

This episode was produced by Dr Cameo Dalley.

Recorded on the unceded lands of the Ngarinyin and Balangarra People, Kimberley region of Australia.

Script supervision and editing by James Milsom.

Field assistance by David Chakman and Rodney Wovodich.

Theme music composed by John Bartley.

Special thanks to Donald Campbell, Peter and Pat Lacey, Christine McLachlan, Ida Moore and Logan and Larissa Walker.