Visiting Menindee Mission

Kayleen, Andrew and Golly go out to the Menindee Mission. They all have relatives who were in the past confined on the Mission. The Mission (which had as its official name the Menindee Aboriginal Station) was established in 1933 by the NSW Aborigines Protection Board to house Aboriginal people in the far west of New South Wales. A manager, employed by the Board, kept out undesirable white people and issued weekly rations. The Aboriginal people there had their movements very restricted. Jack Johnson, whose voice is recorded on the video, says, “They locked us up there.” The cemetery at the Mission has many unmarked graves; people died of tuberculosis in the primitive conditions. It was such a scandal that the government had to close down the Mission in 1949.

Jack Johnson was thinking of this cemetery when he says on the video, “Thuluru pukalatyi kangara: kiiki” (Many died around here: these are their graves.) He is speaking Paakantyi, the language of the Aboriginal people of western New South Wales.

Also on the video is some original newsreel footage from 1938, when twenty men from Menindee Mission were taken down to Sydney to act as the Aborigines of Sydney Cove who confronted Governor Phillip on his arrival in 1788. Andrew explains how they were forced to go and how they were treated when they got there.

Story contributed by Robert Lindsay and Menindee Central School. Published in 2019.