Patrol Report W MacDougall 3.11.1964

Narional Archives of Australia Canberra Office A6456 R088/019 Native Welfare Reports & Correspondence Talgarno Area Patrol Report W MacDougall 3.11.1964 North West Port Hedland 3rd November 1964 Supt of Native Welfare North West Division P O Box 33 Port Hedland, WA Blue Streak Project - F2 In accordance with previously received orders and the telephonic instructions of the Commissioner, I left Port Hedland on 13th October, 1964, by RAAF aircraft (Fl/Lt Todhunter) and flew to Broome. The instructions were that the aircraft was to fly to Swindell's Field where I was to be met by a WRE vehicle and taken to Lake Percival, but these had been counter- manded by Patrol Officer Macaulay, who was broken down near Well 31 on the Canning Stock Route with two broken differential gears. Macaulay had decided to remain in the spare vehicle alongside the broken down International to await the return of two guides who had gone searching in the direction of extensive smoke fires. As Mr McDougall was on Lake Percival with a similarly disbaled vehicle there was no point in off-loading me at Swindell's Field and I remained with the plane crew for four days, until Sunday, 18th October, when we flew to Swindell's Field. Shortly after the plane landed at 8.30am Mr Macaulay arrived by vehicle from Well 35. Earlier, both McDougall and Macaulay had inti- mated that a final air search was unnecessary and could frighten natives already gathered together for the firing. However, as it was imperative that a member of this Department also be satis- fied as to the situation in the area, I insisted that a final air sweep take place and Fl/Lt Todhunter was most co-operative and agreed readily to the request. The plane took off at 9.30am and I was accompanied by Mr Macaulay. The area appeared to be without any form of human habitation; even the vicinity of well 31 was empty of life, despite the fact that we expected a party to be making their way in this direction - that is, the three guides, Sailor, Tuckamarra and Nyani. When the plane landed at 12.30pm Macaulay and I left for Lake Percival and camped that night at Picture Cave Hill. The Commissioner was wired as follows :- 'Concur with combined signals by WRE officers concerning clearing of area. Personnel and radio contact made and final air sweep conducted today indicated area clear. LONG' The party joined MacDougall and the group of 20 natives at 5pm just north of the northern perimeter of the dump area, and, after considerable discussion and conservation with the native women in charge of the group a telegram was forwarded to Mr Gare, worded as follows :- 'Have contacted Mr MacDougall and twenty native women and children. Evacuation ABSOLUTE NECESSITY for tribal, physical, welfare and medical reasons plus women's own request for evacuation. Mr MacDougall and Macaulay agreed to give their assistance for transport to Swindell's. Anticipate arrival there Thursday for Elphinstone to examine woman leprosy suspect. Suggest Jigalong as destination and please contact Roberts for early arrangement of truck to Mission and RAAF transport of Doctor to Swindell's.' The women were desperate to quit the area. They had seen no men for years and were frightened that if they did run into a group containing men that some of them may have been killed, if they were considered unsuitable as wives. Also, the boys in the group were growing up, and apart from having no choice of women for themselves, they were arriving at adulthood without being instructed in the 'law'. Any attempt to drive a vehicle for any purpose, at this stage, resulted in an avalanche of women and children piling themselves aboard. There was no question as to their wish to leave Lake Percival at the earliest possible moment. On our previous search in May the women had watched our movements every day and were delighted to tell us of how we had behaved on that occasion. Without the services of the guides, Sailor and Nyani, who were also distant relations of the group, we would never have made contact. They had never seen whitemen before. The rocket firing took place at 8.30am central time and the re-entry was watched and heard by all of us. After- wards, photographs of the women and children were taken and relationship particulars were noted. The party then made its was off the Lake towards Swindell's. The party split at 9pm and MacDougall drove slowly on toward the airfield while Mac- aulay and I drove on to Well 35 to pick up the guides and repair the broken-down vehicle. The following telegram was sent :- 'Acknowledgement and confirmation of yesterday's telegram concerning transport and other arrangements for native women is requested. Recommend presence Welfare Officer Winderlich on journey Swindell's to Mission. Women tra- velling with McDougall in damaged vehicle and expected Swindell's friday. Macaulay and self proceeding Well 35 tonight to contact guides and possible other group. My ETA Swindell's also Friday. LONG' Well 35 was reached at 12pm and Macaulay's vehicle, broken down in a desolate stretch of sandhills eight miles south of the Stock Route, was rejoined at 7pm. There was no sign of the guides and no answering fires. We drove down to Well 31 on the morning of the 22nd and there found eight people, three men, two women and three boys, all gathered in by the guides. This group was a fragmented portion of an old tribal group and wished to be evacuated. Of the two women, one was old and feeble. The following telegram was despatched via Woomera :- 'Urgent you inform Commissioner Gare further group of three men, two women and three boys, met at Well 31. Proceeding Swindell's ETA Friday as group pleaded evacuation to Jigalong. Health good but some clothing required for both groups when truck arrives. Acknowledge- ment from Commissioner is requested, please.' The party left for Well 35 at 5pm and arrived there at 11pm. Conditions were very windy and cold and it was necessary to feed and rest the party. At 6pm on the 23rd, Macaulay left for Woomera not in- tending to drive back to Swindell's and the two drivers, Messrs Surman and Meakins, and myself drove to Swindell's with the natives, arriving at 3pm. Dr Elphinstone examined the group and confirmed that the woman, Ngandja, was to be taken to the Derby Leprosarium. The doctor was determined to leave the child behind, but it was obvious that the effect on this unfortunate woman would have been disastrous, and he was persuaded to take her with him to Derby, together with a note for Mr Cornish in which I asked him to place the child at a nearby Mission. However, a subsequent report from Mr Cornish states that the child, Bagagayi, also has leprosy and is not separated from the mother. The plane left at 4pm. The three officers from this Division and Miss Winderlich, who had arrived from Derby with the RAAF arranged the dis- position of the group for the night and it was found that there was insufficient room for the party of twenty-eight people. Mr McDougall very obligingly agreed to put his two trucks at our disposal and they accompanied us to Jigalong Mission. Men and women were bathed and clothed the next day and the convoy left at 12 noon, on the 24th. Mr Kininmonth and Mr Tonkinson were detached from the party at Marble Bar and sent on to Port Hedland on the 25th. Mr Tonkinson's assistance was invaluable and he did much to keep the natives contented and free from fear. The party camped near Roy Hill that night. The Mission was reached on the morning of the 26th, and the natives left in the care of the guide, Sailor, and the Superintendent and Staff. Mr McDougall's two trucks left us on the morning of the 27th, bound for Woomera via Wiluna and Warburton Mission. Mr Reibel, Mr Webster, Miss Winderlich and myself returned then to Port Hedland via Wittenoom and arrived at 2pm on the 28th, having completed a trip of 1038 miles from Swindell's Field. Natives in Dump Area The area now appears to be clear of any native groups, but it is possible that the old, blind man and his two wives who have been reported as living well to the North of Lake Percival, could return in the future. He has not been seen for 18 months or so and this possibility can, I feel, be dis- counted. He is more likely to have perished or gone further north to the Joanna Springs area where Wapet report constant fires and smoke. There have been regular visits to Well 35 by members of the small party we contacted at Well 31, and hunting parties used this route to come up from the McKay Ranges and Lake Disappointment. This route, too, should now become unused. Names of both groups are :- Lake Percival Group Name Sex Age Notes Yugunyayi F 48 years Nyibi F 35 years Daughter of Yugunyayi Yuwali F 16 years Daughter of Nyibi, granddaughter of Yugunyayi Yadji M 10 years Son of Nyibi Itiyi M 5 years Son of Nyibi Manga F 2 years Daughter of Nyibi (from letter dated 6 November 1964 and stated as missing in original report) Ngandja F 38 years Leprosy victim Bagagayi F 2 years Daughter of Ngandja, also leprotic Djundju F 27 years Gudu M 10 years Son of Djundju Naga F 8 years Daughter of Djundju Marawuru F 4 years Daughter of Djundju Dadjaga M 3 years Son of Djundju Bamba F 50 years Rabudji F 15 years Daughter of Bamba Nabinanin M 12 years Son of Bamba Guwada F 21 years Blind in one eye Moodia M 5 years Son of Guwada Bilumba F 9 months Daughter of Guwada, apparently fathered by the blind man referred to previously Gamdiba F 48 years Mother of Guwada Canning Stock Route - Well 31 Group Name Sex Age Notes Yinayadu M 29 years Baya F 24 years Wife of Yinayadi and daughter of Turudjara Yulambina M 6 years Son of Baya Nyadyu M 14 years Also known as Manina Nyarinyari M 20 years Brother of Nyadyu Turudjara F 60 years Djidji M 20 years Son of Turudjara Tibi M 11 years Son of Turudjara Vehicles The fact that this Department was forced to rely on the use of WRE vehicles already under the control of their own patrol officers, created an undesirable and invidious situa- tion, in that I was prevented from taking part in the final phases of the ground search and had to rely on a last minute air sweep conducted at my own request, by Fl/Lt Todhunter, who could not have been more helpful. It is my earnest recommendation that the officer appointed by this Department be independent on the ground and also in the radio communication field. Mr McDougall affirmed this opinion and has suggested that the Salisbury authorities provide a vehicle for our Department on the next firing in order to give our representative a very necessary separate mobility. Appreciation Mr McDougall's co-operation and assistance was, as usual, given whole heartedly, and it would not have been possible to have transported the extra party we found at Well 31, together with those from Lake Percival, to the Mission, without considerable discomfort, if he had not agreed to travel a further 700 miles out of his way in order to assist. T Long A/Superintendent - North West Division