Correspondence B White 16 May 1957

Narional Archives of Australia Canberra Office A6456 R145/030 Personnel Aborigines - Safety Surveys Correspondence B White 16 May 1957 16 May 1957 The Range Commander Maralinga ABORIGINES IN PROHIBITED AREA At about 1000 hrs, on the 14th May 1957, an engineer party commanded by Capt Marqueur RAE, working in the vicinity of POM POM, observed an adult male aborigine approaching from the north. This is within the 'DIRTY AREA'. 2. The aborigine made signs which were interpreted as a request for water, and displayed a few dingo pelts. He then led the soldiers, who were wearing protective clothing, to his camp site, 328 yards NW of POM POM, where his family and effects were situated. The aborigine group consisted of Male aged approx 45 years Female aged approx 27 years Boy aged approx 11 years Girl aged approx 2 years and possessed native hunting spears, 12 dingo pelts and tails, misc items of camp gear, 3 dogs (emaciated condition). 3. Capt Marqueur immediately informed Range HQ by radio, and was instructed to detain the family for monitoring at the Health Physics caravan at POM POM. By 1008 hrs Mr Turner, Health Physics, and Flt Lt Goldsworthy, GSO3, had departed for POM POM and security patrols diverted to the area. 4. Meanwhile Sgt Smith, Health Physics, had arrived at POM POM at about 1030 hrs and took charge of the monitoring survey, pending the arrival of Mr Turner. 5. After monitoring and cleansing, the result of the survey was conveyed by Radio to the Range Commander, who instructed that the aborigines should be handed over to a Security patrol and kept in a secluded area pending transfer to the YALATA aboriginal reserve. 6. Mr Turner, Health Physics, took some shots of the family with a camera taken to the area for this purpose. The film is not yet developed, and will be at the disposal of the Range Commander pending release instructions. 7. The aborigines and their effects were conveyed by vehicles accompanied by the Range Security Officer, the GSO3, and PO1 Murray and were handed into the care of Pastor Temme of the Lutheral Mission at TALLOWAN the COLONA HOMESTEAD section of the Aboriginal Reserve, at 10pm the same day. 8. Throughout the period of their sighting to their handover at Tallowan, the natives showed no fear, and complied willingly with such steps as were made for their welfare. 9. Pastor Temme roused about 12 aborigines whom he deemed suitable to act as interpreters, and an attempt was made to obtain information from the new arrivals. Some shyness was evident on both sides, and native etiquette appeared to require avoidance of direct questioning. 10. After one hour the information obtained was summarised, by the help of Pastor Temme, as follows :- TJANYINDI, his wife, son KANTJARI and daughter MILPADI are SPINIFEX natives, an aborigine term for bush native of nomadic tendencies. They belong on the NW Aboriginal Reserve, the nearest mission being the ERNABELLA MISSION. TJANYINDI had visited the OOLDEA tribe about 5 years ago, when they lived in the reserve east and adjoining what is now the PROHIBITED AREA. He decided to combine a hunting trip with a desire to meet his relatives (Friends?) of the Ooldea Tribe. With his family he went walkabout, following the 'rock home route' living on kangaroo and rabbits, and collecting dingo scalps for their bounty. He had expected to meet natives of the Ooldea tribe on approaching what he believed was their area, but saw none, so he came right through. He killed no animals for food in the vicinity of Maralinga, and he last found water at a rock hole about 20 miles NW of place where he was found. He had only arrived at Maralings the night before and had no knowledge (and no conception) of the prohibited area. 11. With regard to the 3 dogs belonging to the aborigines, the Pastor considered that it would have been best to destroy them at Maralinga, but, on consideration, agreed that this action would have turned a co-operative native into a hostile one. It was his intention to destroy them on the 15th May as he could replace them with others. 12. It is requested that this be considered an interim report. Some recommendations to prevent reoccurrance of this type of incident will be subject of a minute. B White Actg Security Officer - Maralinga