Australia (2008)

 

 

 

 

Director:     Baz Luhrmann. 

Starring:     Hugh Jackman (Drover),  Eddie Baroo (Bull),  Nicole Kidman (Lady Sarah Ashley),  Bryan Brown (King Carney),  Tony Barry (Sergeant Callahan),  Jamal Bednarz-Metallah (Mission Boy),  Damian Bradford (Constable #1),  Nathin Butler (Carney Boy #1),  Tara Carpenter (Essential Services Woman),  Rebecca Chatfield (Magarri's Niece),  Lillian Crombie (Bandy Legs),  Max Cullen (Old Drunk),  Essie Davis (Katherine Carney),  Arthur Dignam (Father Benedict).

Love story set against background of racism and Japanese attack on Darwin, Australia on February 19, 1942

 

Spoiler Warning:

"After the bombing of Pearl Harbor on the 7th 9f December 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy steamed south, unleashing their fire on Darwin, a city in the Northern Territory of Australia.  The Territory was a land of crocodiles, cattle barons and warrior chiefs where adventure and romance was a way of life.  It was also a place where Aboriginal children of mixed race were taken by force from their families and trained for service in white society.  These children became known as the Stolen Generations." 

 

September 1939.  A boy of mixed race, white and Aborigine, talks about his grandfather who taught him how to live in the wild.  One day the fellow sees a cattle drive where the men push the cattle onto Mr. Carney's land.  Grandfather tells the boy to make himself invisible, so the boy jumps into a pond and lays on the bottom for awhile.  A dead white man falls into the pond and ends up directly over the boy.  The man's horse is also in the pond.  The boy gets on the horse's back and goes for a ride. 

He rides into a small town.  There is a truck headed his way and the boy thinks they are "coppers" who want to grab him and put him on Mission Island to make him a white fella.  Hiding he gets a better look at the truck and realizes that it is not the coppers.  This is when he sees "boss lady" walking fast up to a farm house.  He says:  "This land my people got many names for, but white fellas call it Australia."

The boy learns later that the boss lady came here from England. 

Flashback.  In England the boss lady (Lady Sarah Ashley) on the back of a white horse says that her husband must sell Faraway Downs.  The "Cattle King" Mr. Carney wants to buy the land but at only one-sixth of what it was once worth.  The boss lady says that they need the money.  She tells a fellow named Ramsden that she plans to go to Australia and visit Faraway Down and bring her husband Maitland home.  Maitland sends her a telegram telling her not to travel now as war seems imminent.  But Sarah will not be stopped.  Maitland then sends a telegram telling her he is sending the "drover" to meet her. 

From the plane Lady Ashley can see an overview of Darwin, Australia. 

In a bar in town a man called Drover is called a "boong lover", so Drover hits him, knocking him down.  He then asks if any of the other Carney boys want to have a go at him?  An aborigine dressed like a cowboy comes to the swinging doors of the tavern and the bartender Ivan says:  "Hey, no boongs in here."   The Aborigine tells Drover that the plane is coming in.  Just then the guy that got knocked down gets up and says that Drover is such an Aborigine lover that he is a black.  Drover tells the Aborigine cowboy to go meet the plane and greet the lady.  The Aborigine goes and Drover turns around and pops the racist in the face again. 

Leslie "King" Carney wants to get his hands on Faraway Downs because it's the only cattle station left that is not his.  The Carney Cattle Company (CCC) lies between Derby on the coast and Alice Springs to the southeast.  Carney doesn't like the idea of Lady Ashley coming to be with Lord Ashley.  He tells his right-hand man Neil that it doesn't look like the Ashleys will be selling Faraway Downs.  Neil tells the boss not to worry about Lady Ashley because these fragile English ladies wither away in the Outback.   

As Lady Ashley comes ashore from the plane, Drover is still fighting the racist in the bar.  Carney watches with binoculars how his wife and daughter greet Lady Ashley.  The daughter says that Neil Fletcher, her fiancι, is the man that manages Faraway Downs.  Lady Ashley is flustered in the hot temperature and walks right past the women.  Carney tells Neil that if the Ashleys are able to get their cattle to the docks at Port Darwin, they will be able to compete with the Carney Cattle Company for the army contract.  The military takes the stance that Carney's virtual monopoly of the beef trade is a threat to the effective supplying of beef to Australian troops.  Carney tells Neil not to let any of the Ashley cattle reach the Port Darwin wharf. 

Lady Ashley walks into the bar just after the fight has spilled over onto the streets.  She asks where is this man Drover who is supposed to be her escort.  The fight continues right outside the swinging doors of the tavern.  Lady Ashley turns around to exit the place and her luggage is knocked over by the two fighters.  She gasps in shock.  Drover uses some of the luggage to slam the racist with it.  One of the suitcases opens and her lingerie spills out onto the street.  The fight ends with Drover smashing a suitcase over the racist's head. 

The Aborigine cowboy tells Drover that the wife of the boss is right here in the crowd.  While Lady Ashley is besides herself, Drover turns around to tell her:  "Welcome to Australia!"

Lady Ashley has to sit up in the old, dirty truck next to the dog who sits in the middle separating her from Drover.  She thinks Drover is an employee of Faraway Down, but Drover explains that he is only driving Lady Ashley to the ranch in order to get to drive 1,500 head of cattle to market.  She is cheered up when she sees her first kangaroo, but is shocked when one of the Aborigines on top of the truck shoots one. 

At night they camp out.  Lady Ashley sleeps in the one tent while the others sleep around the campfire.  The next day an Aboriginal woman drops off a white man who has passed out from too much liquor. Lady Ashley asks who the man is and she tells him it is her accountant.  The guy sleeps in the middle portion of the seat with the dog between him and Drover. Lady Ashley can't stand the smell of the man.  His name is Kipling Flynn.  A young mixed-race girl runs alongside the truck for awhile and asks Drover if he is going to stop for a rest?  No, Drover is going straight on.  He does get a kiss from her before she stops running.

Back to the present.  The truck has to stop quickly to avoid hitting the horse that the boy was riding before he went into hiding.  Drover gets out of the truck, telling Lady Ashley to stay in the truck.  But Lady Ashley just gets out of the truck and starts fast marching to the ranch house.  Drover yells at her not to go into the house.  She ignores him and marches right past two Aboriginal women in the farmhouse.  She finally stops when she sees her husband laying on his back draped over a table.  She is obviously shocked.  A Chinese fellow starts yelling something at her and Neil comes to tell her:  "I'm so sorry." 

At the burial Neil says that it was the boy's grandfather, King George, that killed Mr. Ashley and that man will be brought to justice.  When it is over, Neil tells Lady Ashley they can leave for Port Darwin first thing in the morning.  At night Lady Ashley is bothered by the strange noises she hears.  The boy starts to "sing her to me."   As Lady Ashley comes out of the ranch house to look around, the boy rushes in.  When Lady Ashley goes back into the house, she gets a fright when she sees the boy sitting at her table.  The boy tells her that his name is Nullah and he just wanted to tell her:  "That balanda Fletcher been curse to this place."   He adds that the white woman has come to heal the land and that's why he sang her to him.  Nullah says that Mr. Fletcher and his mother are together now. 

On a map Nullah shows the boss lady where the billabong is where her husband was killed.  Just then Nullah's mother sticks her head through an open window saying:  "Don't make'em that policeman take away my boy."  The three of them hide behind the luggage as Neil comes to the ranch house to see what is going on. 

The next morning Neil shows up.  Lady Ashley tells him that the little boy told her that some of her cattle cross the river into Carney land.  Neil forces Nullah to come over to him and he whispers that if he doesn't shut up about the cattle, he will beat Nullah's mother.  So Nullah remains quiet.  Neil tells the Chinese cook to take the boy to the kitchen and get him some of that food he likes.  Neil says to Lady Ashley that a lot of these half-castes boys tell lies.  That's why they will take him to Mission Island. 

Nullah gets away from the cook and climbs up the tower involved with the water pumping system.  He removes a pin that keeps the blades from moving and shouts down to the adults:  "I no bloody liar!  He liar!  He say this not work."   The blades start turning faster and faster and muddy water starts pouring out of the piping.  The boy climbs down and Fletcher starts chasing him.  When he catches him he starts beating him.  Lady Ashley comes over to stop him by slashing his face with a horse whip.  She then fires him and tells him to get off the property.  He tries to take the accountant with him, but Flynn is staying with Lady Ashley.  Neil gets in his truck and drives off.  On the way he beeps at the drovers and they go with Neil. 

Nullah says from that day on they started calling Lady Ashley, Mrs. Boss.  The cook tells the boss that Mr. Flynn knows what's going on around here.  So Lady Ashley goes to talk with Flynn.  Flynn explains that he was told to keep two sets of books, one for the boss and one for Mr. Carney.  In the Carney book, he has listed all the cattle taken off the land of the Ashleys.  Lady Ashley says she is going to the authorities, but Flynn tells her that Carney is the authority around here.  Flynn suggests that she:  "Drove the cattle to Darwin."   That way Lady Ashley can break Carney's monopoly of the cattle business around here.  Then she should use the profits to fix up Faraway Downs.  The only problem is that since she dismissed Fletcher, there's no one to "drove" for her.  

At this time Drover comes with a large herd of horses.  Nullah welcomes Drover back to the ranch house.  Drover comes to Lady Ashley to demand to know what happened to the drovers and to Fletcher?  Lady Ashley explains that she dismissed Fletcher on moral grounds.  Drover is really angry at her now because he believes that she has cost him a great deal of money.  With only him and his two workers, how could they round up 1,500 heads of cattle spread all over the humongous ranch property?  And he doesn't believe this talk of moral grounds.  But Mrs. Boss stands up to him and says that Fletcher and Mr. Carney were stealing her cattle and adding them to Carney's herds. 

Now Drover calms down a bit.  He advises the boss to sell the land to Carney and go the hell back to England and that would make everyone happy, especially him.  He starts to leave, but the boss starts virtually begging him to wait.  She offers him the chance to fulfill a dream of his:  to breed a thoroughbred horse with a bush brumby.  If he agrees to help her, she will let him have her thoroughbred horse Capricornia.  Drover is definitely interested, but asks from where are they going to get the drovers?

Nullah's mother and grandmother can ride and both worked as drover's boy when they were younger.  In their desperate situation, Drover takes the two women on.  Now he only needs two more drovers to make seven, which would be enough drovers for the cattle drive.  Lady Ashley says she will be the sixth drover.  Drover doesn't believe it.  So she shows him that she can ride.  She has a rough time getting the cows to move along, but Drover sees that in the rear she can be of service. 

A car comes driving fast up to the ranch house.  Nullah and his mother go hiding in the water tank.  The water tank is full of water and the boy and his mother have a heck of a time getting out of the water as the side ladder breaks off.  The constable goes to the ranch house to talk with Lady Ashley.  He expresses his sympathies for the loss of her husband and tells her that they will catch and punish King George.  He also tells her to be on the look out for a half-caste boy who is supposed to be in the area. 

By the time the constable leaves, Nullah's mother has drowned.  Drover gets the boy and the mother out of the tank.  Nullah cries over his mother's body.  Up on top of the mountain the Aborigine cowboy signs to King George that the mother of Nullah has died.  Drover tells Lady Ashley she will now have to act as mother to the boy.  She says:  "I'm not good with children."  But Drover keeps encouraging her to go and she goes and extends her condolences to the boy.  Nullah tells her to go away.  She switches tactics and says she will tell the boy a story.  That gets Nullah interested.  The movie The Wizard of Oz is playing in the movie theaters, so she tells the boy a small piece of the story.  Nullah is very interested because King George calls Nullah a Gulapa, a wizard man. 

Lady Ashley does a terrible job of telling the story, so Nullah asks if there's any songs in the story?  Yes.  So Nullah asks Mrs. Boss to sing one for him and he will learn it.  Mrs. Boss starts to sing Somewhere Over the Rainbow and Nullah tells her:  "That bloody good.  Keep going.  You funny singer, but good song."   One of her problems is that she doesn't really know the lyrics.  She puts a hodge-podge of some of the lyrics together to pass for a song, but Nullah is pleased. 

On the day of the drove, they wait on Flynn, but Drover doesn't believe the guy is coming.  Flynn, however, surprises Drover by showing up.  He even throws his bottle of liquor down, breaking it.  He shouts:  "No desert comes drier than Kipling Flynn, milady!"  King George watches from the mesa as the cattle drive moves out. 

In Darwin Carney and Fletcher talk to their army contact and a town official.  Some air force people saw a cattle drive heading north with about 1,500 head of cattle.  Is Carney running cattle out of Faraway Downs?  No.  In fact, Fletcher, the would-be drover, is here with Carney.  The army captain says someone must be helping Lady Ashley.  Carney turns to Fletcher and tells him yes, someone must be helping her.  Fletcher understands the message. 

Fletcher and his men ride toward the cattle drive.  At night Flynn plays the harmonica for Nullah, while the two Aborigines Goolaj and Magarri sing to the cattle to help keep them calm.  King George watches the camp down below him.  Nullah tells Flynn that Lord Ashley was killed by a glass-tipped spear.  The bad guys pour gasoline around the cattle herd and light it.  This scares the cattle and they take off.  Drover shouts:  "Rush!  Rush!"  The cattle are headed to the cliff edge.  They have to circle the herd before they get to the edge. 

As the cattle near the cliff, the bad guys light a fire wall to keep them from turning left away from the cliff.  This frightens Flynn's horse and he goes down, throwing Flynn into the path of the cattle, who run over his body.  Nullah reaches the cliff first and stands there trying to get the cattle to stop and amazingly the cattle do stop.  Mrs. Boss and Drover reach Nullah and the lady grabs Nullah before he falls off the cliff.  She tells him he is safe with her.  Now Drover rides over to Flynn who is alive for the moment.  Before he dies, he tells Drover about the glass-tipped spear about which Nullah told him.

Drover speaks with Lady Ashley about the glass-tipped spear.  She figures that it was Fletcher who killed her husband and stampeded the cattle.  Lady Ashley says:  "We can't let them win" and Drover replies:  "We won't." 

Fletcher and his three men ride to the edge of the cliff where they see the grave of Flynn.  It seems the cattle drovers pushed their cattle through the night and now are ahead of the bad guys. 

At camp at night the group toasts to the Gentleman, Flynn.  Lady Ashley asks Drover to dance with her.  He tries, but she is a little drunk.  They kiss briefly until they are interrupted by Nullah.  His grandmother tells him to come over to the fire and go to sleep.  Drover says that he was married once to an Aborigine woman.  She died of tuberculosis. No children.  Ashley says she can't have children. 

The next day they come to a watering hole, but Fletcher and his boys got there before them and poisoned the water.  Mugarri says they can cross the Kuraman desert to get to water.  Drover objects that the land is Never-Never Land, not crossable.   At this point King George appears saying that he can lead them to the place where five rivers meet..   The journey takes three days.  They are harassed by sand storms, heat and lack of water. 

The newspaper says that the cattle drovers from Faraway Downs have all perished in the Kuraman desert.  A pilot swooped down to take a close look.  Carney's wife and daughter both say it is a tragedy that this happened.  Mr. Carney presses the army captain to sign the papers so his cattle can be loaded onto the ships.  But all of a sudden a calf walks down Main Street.  They hear the sound of a cattle herd being driven right down Main Street. Lady Ashley appears and tells the army captain that they will charge 20% less for their cattle than what Carney is charging.  The captain says the contract is not binding until the cattle are loaded on the ships.  So a race begins between Carney and Ashley to get the cattle on board. 

Carney sends his cattle through a long shoot, but Drover races to the end of the shoot and closes it.  Then he pushes the Ashley cattle on board.  Now the Ashley crew go to the tavern for a drink.  Ivan tries to stop them from coming in because no ladies are allowed, but one of the guys says Lady Ashley is no lady, she just drove her cattle here from Faraway Downs and deserves a drink like any man.  The crowd agrees.  Ivan backs down and pours two drinks for Drover and Ashley. 

Carney telephones Fletcher and tells him that he should never have sent a boy to do a man's work. 

Nullah says everyone is happy except for him.  He says:  "Me belong no one."    Lady Ashley watches Drover working with Capricornia and says to Drover:  "You really do have a gift with horses."  He says Lady Ashley looks better somehow and she replies that she is going to bring Faraway Downs back to life.  And she wants Drover to be the manager.  Drover doesn't want the job.  And about the fancy ball she wants him to go to with her, she should know that as far as the snobs are concerned, he's as good as black to them.  He stays away from them and they stay away from him. 

Grandmother darkens Nullah's face and takes him to see The Wizard of Oz.  And, of course, he is blown away by Judy Garland's rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Lady Ashley goes to the ball, but talks most about adopting the half-caste boy.  Of course, what she gets back is a lot of racist non-sense.  They are more interesting in breeding the black out of the Aborigines.  To raise money for the Children's Island Mission, first dances with various young ladies are auctioned off.  Carney pays 500 quid to dance with Lady Ashley.  During the dance, Ashley points out that she suspects Mr. Fletcher killed her husband.  Carney tells her he will give her 75,000 pounds to buy Faraway Downs.  Lady Ashley says she cannot sell the place, because there are people who live there who are dependent upon her.  Carney says he will put it in the contract that he will protect those who are dependent upon her.  He even tells her that he will put it in the contract. 

When Carney walks her to her table, he says the last flying boat is leaving tomorrow.  The war is coming.  Just then Drover shows up at the ball.  Many people gasp at his sudden appearance.  Lady Ashley was just about to give in, but now she says Faraway Downs is no longer for sale.  They dance the foxtrot and a lot of the attendees just stare at the couple.  Carney and Fletcher are among those staring.  After the dance the couple goes outside to talk.  They kiss as the first rains of the "wet" arrive.  Nullah watches The Wizard of Oz again. 

Carney really did not know that Fletcher had killed Lord Ashley.  He now tells Fletcher:  "You're not part of any plan concerning this family." 

Drover and Sarah go home and make love.  Later, everyone goes back to Faraway Downs, which is flourishing in the rains of the "wet". And Nullah is there.  He even has his first Christmas at the ranch house. 

Drover goes on another cattle drive.  Fletcher gets his revenge on Carney by hitting him from behind on the back of the neck forcing him to fall into the billabong.  A huge crocodile grabs hold of Carney and that was that.  Neil Fletcher takes over the Carney Cattle Company and marries the Carney daughter.

One day Fletcher shows up at Faraway Downs.  He says he wants Faraway Downs.  He tells Lady Ashley that his father worked this land in order to make people like Lady Ashley rich.  The place belongs to him. 

Drover comes home with a herd of horses.  Nullah tells him that King George wants him to do his walkabout to introduce him to manhood.  Sarah doesn't want him to go, but Drover says the boy has to do it for his own good.  One day King George comes for the boy.  Mrs. Boss holds onto the child. 

On another day Nullah can't be found.  Drover says the boy has gone walkabout.  Mrs. Boss wants to go out and find him, but Drover says he will be far away now and they won't be able to find him.  Drover says he's leaving.  Mrs. Boss says she needs him to stay and if he can't stay with her, then it would be better if he did not return to Faraway Downs.  Drover says:  "All right.  You're the boss."  Off goes Drover. 

On walkabout, the constable grabs Nullah and they arrest the suspected murderer of Lord Ashley, King George. 

The news is about the US Pacific Fleet being attacked by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Dec. 7, 1941.  The authorities are evacuating the town of Darwin.  Nullah is being loaded on a ship headed for Mission Island.  Mrs. Boss arrives to find Nullah.  She desperately tries to save Nullah, but they won't give her the boy. The racist women there say that Lady Ashley is just humiliating herself trying to save a pickaninny.  Fletcher's wife, however, wants Neil to help Lady Ashley.  He tells her he may be able to sort it out.  But, of course, Fletcher arrives too late to help Lady Ashley.  He is there, however, to tell her Mission Island will be the first place the Japs hit because it has a radio tower there.  She tells him:  "You're monstrous."

Japanese airplanes are approaching Darwin. 

Drover is far away on the army cattle drive.  His Aborigine right-hand man turns out to be his brother-in-law.  Margarii is worried about Nullah because no one actually knows if he really went on walkabout.  He tells Drover to stop hiding:  "You're scared of getting your heart hurt like before, when my sister died.  But knowing you, you probably never told Mrs. Boss that you loved her, eh?"  He goes on to say if you don't got no love in you're heart, you've got nothing.   In the distance Goolaj sees the army on the move.  Drover says it's the Yanks on the move.  He wonders why they are here. 

Japanese planes are overtop of Mission Island.  Some of them peal off and start strafing the beaches and bombing the buildings there.  The pastor there is killed when a bomb hits the little shack he is in.  In Darwin, the air raid sirens go off.  The Japanese start bombing and strafing Darwin.  The prisoners are let out of their cells.  King George walks free.  Drover arrives in Darwin.  He sees Goolaj and asks him where is Mrs. Boss?  Goolaj tells him she is at army headquarters, Carney place.    When he and Margarii arrive at the Carney place, they see the army HQ building completely covered in fire. 

Sarah Ashley is admitted to the hospital on a stretcher.  Drover walks around looking at the damage done to Darwin.  Ivan's tavern is damaged but still in business.  And he still won't let Margarii enter the tavern.  Drover decides to make an exception for Margarri.  He forces the bartender to let Margarii in and let him have a drink.  The three men drink their drinks down at the same time and put their glasses back on the counter. 

It turns out that the woman on the stretcher was Cath Fletcher, wife of Neil Fletcher.  Lady Ashley finds out and starts crying about Cath.  She tells the army captain that she has to get to Nullah, but he tells her:  "Sarah, the Japs hit the mission first.  No one can get out there."  A pastor along with Drover, Mugarri and Ivan grab a boat and head out for Mission Island.   When Drover sees the children's shoes all in a row near the fire, he fears that Nullah and the others are dead.  But then the children start coming out of hiding amidst the vegetation.  Nullah calls out for Drover and Drover runs to him and hugs him.  The boy asks for Mrs. Boss and Drover tells him that she has been killed. 

Drover tells the boys they are going to have to swim to the boat waiting for them.  Just then Japanese troops start approaching what's left of the mission house.  The boys start running for the water.  Magarri tells Drover to go ahead.  He will stay back and hold the Japanese soldiers off.  Margarri hides behind one of the pilings in the water and shoots at the Japanese soldiers.  They return fire.  His gun jams, so he decides to force the Japanese to focus on him rather than on Drover and the boys.  Margarri is shot down.  He is then finished off with a bullet to the head.  But he did manage to distract the Japanese.  Drover takes the boys back to the mainland. 

Fletcher is told that his wife has been killed in the attack.  The army captain comes to Sarah and tells her that they have to go now.  They are evacuating the place.  Coming in on the boat Nullah hears Grandfather speak to him.  Nullah starts to play the song Somewhere Over the Rainbow on the harmonica.  Sarah hears it.  She runs to the docks and sees Nullah on the boat coming in.  He jumps off the boat onto the deck and runs to Mrs. Boss. They are both happy to see each other.  Nullah tells her about how Drover saved some of the children.  Lady Ashley turns around and sees Drover, who says:  "You're alive!  Oh, God!"  They hug each other tightly.  The army captain comes down to the docks to get Sarah.  He sees Sarah, but then also sees all the children coming to him.  He shouts for everyone to get on the trucks. 

Fletcher is there and sees Nullah, who he blames for much of his problems.  Neil says there are looters everywhere and takes a rifle from a soldier and shoots Nullah in the back.  But Fletcher is a dead man for King George has thrown a spear into his back and through his body to stick part way out from Neil's abdomen.  Nullah survives.  Lady Ashley kisses Drover saying:  "Let's go home."   Drover replies:  "There's no place like it." 

On their way home, King George makes an appearance.  He wants to go walkabout with the boy.  Nullah says he will sing Mrs. Boss to him.  This time Mrs. Boss let's him go without saying anything.  When he walks away with grandfather, Mrs. Boss says softly:  "And I will hear you." 

 

 

Good movie.  I thought it was a bit long at times, but still good.  The three main characters played by Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman and Jamal Bednarz-Metallah (as the boy) were all great in their roles.  The film is a love story between man and woman and parent and child.  It's also a story of good guys versus the bad guys along with a piece of history thrown in:  the Japanese bombardment of Darwin, Feb. 19, 1942.   

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D. 

 

 


Historical Background:

 

 

The Stolen Generation:

 

1869-1969  -  children of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent were removed from their families by Australian and State government agencies and church missions.

1869 – the colony of Victoria, Australia passed the Aboriginal Protection Act that gave extensive powers over the lives of Aboriginal people to the government's Board for the Protection of Aborigines. These powers included regulation of residence, employment and marriage.

1871 – the Board in Victoria developed controls over where people could live and work, what they could do and who they could meet or marry. They removed Aboriginal children from their families, which created the problem of the Stolen Generation.

1886 – Acts of Parliament were passed in Victoria and Western Australia that were called Half-Caste Acts.  This led to the removal of Aboriginal people of mixed descent, known as 'half-castes', from the Aboriginal stations or reserves to force them to assimilate into white society.

1910  --  the failure of Victoria's Half-Caste Act and its inhumanity led to Victoria's Aborigines Act which abandoned the policy.  

1915  --  Aborigines Protection Amending Act 1915 enabled the Aborigines' Protection Board to remove Aboriginal children from their parents without having to establish neglect or mistreatment. 

1920s – cases of abandonment of many mixed race children born during construction of The Ghan railway. This helped lead to state action to provide for and protect such children.

1923  --  the Adelaide Sun had an article that stated:   "The word 'stole' may sound a bit far-fetched but by the time we have told the story of the heart-broken Aboriginal mother we are sure the word will not be considered out of place."

in the 1970s  --  in some places, children were still being taken.

1970  --  Victoria's Aboriginal Lands Act further abandoned the Half-Caste Act.

The real reasons behind the policies were racist in nature.  Among these fears were fears of miscegenation and the contamination of white racial purity.  Of course, to cover up the racism, many nicer reasons were given too, such as child protection and the belief that Aboriginal people would "die out".

Late 1980s – widespread awareness of the Stolen Generations brought to public consciousness through the efforts of Aboriginal and white activists, artists and musicians. Darwin was a place where aboriginal children of mixed-race were taken by force from their families and trained for service in white society.  These children became known as the Stolen Generations. 

1995 (early) – Rob Riley of the Aboriginal Legal Service published Telling Our Story which told the story of the thousands of Aboriginal children removed from their families and reared in missions, orphanages, reserves and white foster homes

1997-2001 – apologies offered to the Stolen Generation by State and Territory governments.

2000 (July) – the United Nations Commission on Human Rights heavily criticized the government of Prime Minister John Howard for its negative approach to not resolving the issues related to the Stolen Generation.

2008 (February 13) – formal apology to the Stolen Generations led by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and passed by both houses of the Parliament of Australia.

 

 

Japanese Attacks in World War II on Darwin, Australia:

Darwin is the capital of the sparsely settled Northern Territory of Australia.  It is located on the Timor Sea.  It is an important Australian gateway to countries such as Indonesia (to the northwest) and East Timor and, to the northeast Papua New Guinea.  It has a tropical climate, with a west and a dry season.

early 1940s  --  around 10,000 Allied troops arrive in Darwin at the outset of WWII.  The purpose is to protect Australia's northern coastline.

1942-1943  --  there were about 100 air raids on Australia. 

1942 (Feb. 19)  --  at about 9:15 a.m. Japanese planes were spotted by an Australian Coastwatcher on Melville Island.  A little later Father John McGrath, a Catholic priest conducting missionary work on Bathurst Island, spotted the Japanese planes.  Father McGrath's message:  "An unusually large air formation bearing down on us from the northwest".

At least twice, Darwin received both warnings, no later than 9:37 a.m.  But 11 US P-40E Kittyhawk fighters and an LB-30 Liberator had just departed Darwin.  The duty officer assumed this was the formation seen by the coastwatcher and Father McGrath. 

At the time of the raid Darwin had a single pier and only a few waterfront buildings. The airfield on the outskirts of the town had no more than two or three small hangars and only around twenty planes of various types. No planes were in the air.

1942 (February 19)   --  just before 10 a.m.,  242 Japanese bomber and fighter planes attack Darwin.  They did this in two waves.  (It was the same fleet that had bombed Pearl Harbor, USA.)  Anti-aircraft fire was heavy but ineffectual. 

Many more bombs were dropped on Darwin than on Pearl Harbor. At least 243 people died (most of them on the eight sunken ships in Darwin Harbor).  The town suffered immense damage.  Darwin was abandoned as a major naval base.  The city had to be rebuilt. 

There were many subsequent raids on Darwin.  (58 in fact.)

1943 (June)  --  another raid on Darwin.  Among the planes used was the Japanese Mitsubishi G4M "Betty" bomber.

 

 

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