Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Day He Was Stolen...

We packed up the Troupie and were off before Mother Sun reached her highest point, the day promised to be a scorcher.  After an hour we left the main road heading towards Alice Springs, though without Uncle Bob as a guide, we surely would have missed the slight break in the grass and the almost invisible red road snaking off through the scrub brush.  We came to a copse of unusual variation and we spotted wild emu and two kangaroo, though I doubt the different trees were out of the ordinary to these native inhabitants.  Our modern beast was entering a surface world largely untouched by time, but a landscape immersed in tragedy.

As the road became rougher and the washouts forced us through untrodden Bush we would alternately slow to a crawl through the spinifex or go almost gangbusters through the soft sand.  If you stop in the soft sand, you stay stopped.  After a most harrowing moment where the truck stalled on a jagged ravine inches from a 6 foot drop we arrived at our first stop, the shell of an outstation manned in the 30s by a Scottish man, Bill Liddle, the man unable to stop authorities from taking away his son, Bob Randall.

We stood on the ground where his Mothers and Aunties created a safe and loving home, connecting him to the land forever, which was his birthright as an Anangu boy.  When young Bob was somewhere between 6 and 8 years old, Constable Bill McKinnon came by on his camel to carry out the White Australia Assimilation Policy, which literally stated the mandate to "breed the black out of them".  "Them" being the First Australians, "Them" being Bob Randall and his family.  Half-caste babies were sometimes covered in ash or charcoal to try to make them darker so the law wouldn't take them, but the day the policeman came by on his camel patrol...it rained.

Constable Bill McKinnon arrested a number of Bob's Aunties and Uncles, and put them in chains, for cattle killing.  Before the white man came there was plenty of food for the Anangu people, but then cattle were introduced.  Fences cut off Traditional food gathering routes, and the new beasts soiled all the water holes and drove the indigenous game out of reach of the local families.

The way I've been told is that Anangu way means we are all connected.  If a family is hungry and they find a bull, they takes only what they needs for his family and there is no such thing as "ownership".  Little Bob Randall's family was only taking care of their own, and they were punished for it.




I've put together a very amateur video of the journey from Angas Downs, where Uncle Bob was taken, to the water hole where he and the other prisoners spent the first night.  It was a sixteen mile journey, and only the very first step in the heartbreaking and inspiring story of Tjilpi Bob Randall.

1 comment:

Julie T said...

WOW, really good video! Thank you for all the work you do!