Narional Archives of Australia
Personnel Aborigines - Safety Surveys
Correspondence B White 16 May 1957
16 May 1957
The Range Commander
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
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
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.
Actg Security Officer - Maralinga