National Archives of Australia
Series unknown Item R22.005 and / or R145.034
Royal Commission into British Nuclear Tests in Australia
Collection of documents relating to Aboriginals 21. 1.1947 - 29. 8.1984
AIATSIS B G646.83/R1 Volumes 1-17
Patrol Report J Harman 24 August 1965
Report on Joint Patrol of the Central Reserve
Objects of Patrol
In accordance with arrangements made at the March
Central Reserves Committee meeting, a patrol of the Central
Reserve was commenced on July 21st and concluded on August
The purposes of this patrol were similar to previous
patrols to this area, namely :
1. Establish contact with nomadic natives in the
area, ascertain their welfare, their kinships,
classifications and future movements.
2. Arrange transport to Warburton Ranges Mission or
Papunya Native Settlement of those contacted who
expressly wish to join their relatives already at
3. Arrange transport, if so desired, for those
natives who have been previously assisted to
Warburton Ranges Mission by previous patrols
over the past eighteen months, to their former
The patrol was led by J J Harman, Divisional
Superintendent, Eastern Division and comprised as follows :
Mr G Budge, Assistant Superintendent,
Mr L Fletcher, District Officer, Laverton
Andrew Lawson, native guide and interpreter
from Warburton Ranges Mission
Mr L Penhall, Assistant Director Southern,
Social Welfare Branch
Mr J Jennings, Patrol Officer, Social
Two Pintubi guides from Papunya Settlement
Weapons Research Establishment
Mr W MacDougall
Yaparula, a native guide from Warburton
The patrol was divided into two areas. The Northern
section of the Reserve previously inhabited by Pintubi
natives was patrolled by the Northern Territory party. The
southern section was patrolled by the Western Australian and
Weapons Research Establishment officers. Both parties met
at Jupiter Well toward the end of the patrol and travelled
together to the Giles Meteorological Station.
The Northern Territory party visited all the known
water holes close to the Papunya - Jupiter Well track and
except for Walla Walla in the Pollock Hills, these water
holes were dry. Mr Penhall also reported no signs of
Shortly before I arrived at Jupiter Well, I
contacted the members of an oil search geophysical party,
who had been traversing the area between Well 35 and the
Western Australian / Northern Territory border for the past
eight weeks. Included in this group was the pilot of the
helicopter used by this party. They had not seen any
evidence of natives in this area.
The observations by Mr Penhall and the information
obtained from the geophysical party seem to suggest that
there are no further Pintubi groups in this area. This is
supported by the Pintubi guides who do not know of any
remaining relatives still uncontacted.
A far different situation faced the Western Australian
and Weapons Research Establishment parties in this section.
Prior to the patrol leaving Warburton Ranges, three
meetings were held between the officers and the Nadajarra
group now at Warburton Ranges, but who had been assisted to
that Mission by previous patrols over the past eighteen
months. These meetings were held to establish whether
these new arrivals wished to return to their former 'country'
and remain there. The matter was discussed in a completely
unbiased manner, but, an undertaking was given that future
patrols would be made to contact them at regular intervals
and, of course, that on this occasion transport would be
provided for their return journey.
During the past 18 months, a total of 41 natives
(including women and children) were assisted to the Warburton
Ranges Mission. The meeting held on the eve of the departure
by the patrol for the Nadajarra 'country' established that
only 11 natives including 5 children wished to return.
The following morning the two Forward Control
Landrovers went to their camps to collect the 11 natives.
In fact, a total of 25 natives placed themselves on the
vehicles. I had to ask one Nadajarra man to remain as his
wife and child were in Kalgoolie Hospital and their return
was iminent. This man agreed to remain without demur.
Another man, Mulyumara, aged about 50 years, was also requested
to remain at the Mission. This man was not a recent arrival
and, in fact, had been at the Mission for several years. He
was intending to leave his two wives at the Mission and could
advance no reason to make this journey, other than for the
ride. After I insisted he get down from the vehicle he did
As the party commenced to depart, this man, Mulyumara,
threw a spear from his woomera at the vehicle in which I was
travelling. The spear landed in the group of natives in
the rear of the vehicle. It struck a dog in the neck. The
incident has been reported separately and the Inspector
of Police at Kalgoolie has been requested to take action
The group of 23 natives was transported to Tika Tika
that day without further incident. The soakages at Tika
Tika contained little water and the natives wished to continue
with the party to Badjar, some thirty miles to the north.
The following morning we arrived at Badjar, which
would seem to be in the Clutterbuck Hills. This area was
well grassed and had received some benefit from recent rains.
A creek containing two large pools of clear water ran from
a division in the low hills to the flat open country.
On our arrival, it was evident that a group of
natives was camping near the creek, but were away hunting.
Several of the women brought with our party went off to
seek this new group.
Whilst awaiting their return, the natives sat by our
vehicles. Shortly afterwards Andrew Lawson, our
interpreter, informed me that the group we had brought did
not now wish to remain at Badjar and wished to return to the
Warburton Ranges Mission. He could advance no reason for
their change of mind, other than they considered they would
fare better at the Mission.
About midday the new group commenced to arrive. They
had no game. One man was partly clothed, but the four women
were unclothed. Another young man, not fully initiated,
wore a lap lap and had a bone through his nose. There were
5 children in the group.
Patrol Officer MacDougall recognised the group as the
same group he had contacted the previous month and who also
had been seen by the Film Unit from the Institute of
Aboriginal Studies, at the same time.
This new group went to their camp site. A short
while later, one of the women from the new group and two
from the Warburton Group approached one another, shouting
and waving their arms as if in anger. They then fought
together, hitting each other on the head with rocks held
in their hands. This incident ceased as quickly as it started.
The men took no part, although the young man with the bone
through his nose suddenly ran towards the Warburton group
and threw a spear. The spear was directed at the ground
about fifteen yards in front of him and about forty yards
from the Warburton group.
The explanation for this incident could not be
confirmed, but it appeared to be a custom to be observed
because of some previous infedility on the part of one of
A short time after this incident, the man in the new
group walked from his camp to the men of the Warburton group
who were seated in a half circle on their own and about
forty yards from their women and children. This man went
to each of the men in turn, taking their right hand and
rubbing the palm against his penis. Each man looked down
during this ceremony. The last man was not fully initiated
and the Badjar man merely patted him on the head. The
Badjar man then returned to his camp. No words were spoken
during this ceremony. The ceremony has been previously
described by Professor Berndt and others and is regarded
as a form of introduction. It has been said that should
any of the men seated raise their heads during this act this
could indicate some type of grudge exists between them and
it should be settled as soon as possible.
Following this incident the Warburton men moved over
to the camp of the new man and began talking.
A little later our party went to this group and
began discussions with them. It was obvious that this new
group wished to travel to Warburton Ranges Mission and I have
no doubt the man was influenced by the Warburton group.
This group was in good physical condition. They were also
the group seen several days previously by a helicopter
working for Union Oil Co.
As it would have been impossible to transport both
groups to the Warburton Ranges, I suggested that some of the
Warburton group remain with the new group and they would be
contacted in fourteen days time at Tika Tika. This was
finally agreed, although the young man with the bone was
allowed to accompany his uncle with our party. It was
presumed that his circumcision would be arranged at
Late that day, the party commenced the return trip
to Warburton Ranges and arrived without incident the next day.
After refuelling, the Western Australian and Weapons
Research Establishment parties commenced the journey to
Jupiter Well, via the Carnegie Road, the Gary Highway, Well
35 on the Canning Stock Route and Gary Junction. All the
known water holes en route were visited. They were
virtually dry and showed no signs of recent visits by nomadic
natives. It is believed, however, that one or possibly two
groups still frequent the area from Yiril to Tika Tika.
The Northern Territory party were met at Jupiter Well
and all the parties then continued to the Giles Meteorological
Station. The opportunity was taken to inspect the proposed
site for a mobile settlement to be established by the Northern
Territory Social Welfare Branch near the Docker Creek in the
Petermann Ranges. The site has been equipped with a mill
and storage tank. Plans for further improvements are now
The Northern Territory party departed for Alice
Springs and our party returned to Warburton Ranges via the
The windmill and tank at Blackstone Ranges has been
frequently used by natives from Mt Davies and by those
natives travelling to and from Warburton Ranges and South
Australia. A group of such natives numbering twenty one
was contacted seventy miles easy of Warburton Ranges
Mission and was travelling to Blackstone Ranges. Their
previous camp site had been at Purgatory Well, which was
put down by this department eighteen months previously and is
56 miles east from Warburton Ranges Mission.
This route of 200 miles from Warburton Ranges to
Mt Davies now had five sources of permanent water for use
by natives. There was evidence of a good deal of game and
this was supported by the group we contacted.
The patrol arrived at Warburton Ranges on August 6th
and departed the same evening for Laverton. Arrangements were
made for the District Officer at Laverton to return to the
Warburton Ranges on August 10th with the two Infant Health
Sisters and to then continue to Badjar to pick up the
remaining natives as arranged previously.
The District Officer departed Laverton on August 10th
but when 180 miles from Laverton the vehicle met with an
accident and was extensively damaged. The occupants suffered
varying injuries, but none seriously. In view of this, I
had to request WRE Patrol Officer MacDougall to proceed
to Badjar and pick up the natives. This was done and the
newly contacted group at Badjar was transported to Warburton
Ranges Mission. It appears from reports from Patrol Officer
MacDougall, that the other group left with the Badjar group
decided to continue to remain in the area. This group will
be contacted by Patrol Officer MacDougall when he visits the
area in late September - early October.
The names of the new group are listed in the
During this patrol, ten signs were placed at all
entry points to the Central Reserve. The signs are 5' x 3'
and are supported by two lengths of piping, well bedded
in the ground.
THIS AREA IS A PROCLAIMED NATIVE RESERVE
IT IS AN OFFENCE UNDER THE NATIVE WELFARE
ACT 1963 TO ENTER THIS RESERVE UNLESS
PERMISSION HAS FIRST BEEN OBTAINED FROM
THE HON. MINISTER FOR NATIVE WELFARE IN
PERSONS AUTHORISED TO ENTER THIS RESERVE
MUST ADHERE STRICTLY TO THE CONDITIONS
IMPOSED WITH THEIR PERMIT.
F E GARE
COMMISSIONER OF NATIVE WELFARE
Regular patrols of the Central Reserve since 1963
by all administrations have increased our knowledge of the
area and of the natives. It has been evident that the
natives contacted by these patrols have wished to rejoin
their relatives who have previously travelled to the Missions
and Settlements. They have been informed by our guides
of conditions and way of life at these centres and this,
coupled with their curiosity, their need to rejoin other
groups to continue social customs and tradition has
influenced these nomadic natives to make their decision,
especially when this is weighed against their present way
of existence. Once having lived in a Mission or Settlement
it seems that they prefer to remain at those centres,
although at times they may consider a return to their
former nomadic life for a short period or even a 'ride'.
While on this occasion it would seem our party was
'taken for a ride', it is possible that some other explanation
for their sudden change may be the case, and careful enquiry
of this over the next few months should not be overlooked.
Although no contact has been made with any natives in the
Pintubi country since September, 1964, I would hesitate to
state that the area is uninhabitated. As we do know at least
one other group exists in the Nadajarra country, it is
obvious that patrols should be continued in this area.
The group contacted at Badjar should be closely questioned
after they have settled at Warburton Ranges and have sorted
out their relationship.
During the incident on this patrol, I suggest we
continue to discuss with these new groups their desire
whether to return to their 'country' or not.
To this end it is recommended the District
Officer Laverton undertake another patrol in January,
Temporary Mining Reserve
In 1955 a Temporary Mining Reserve was granted
to South West Mining Co by excising the area shown in
yellow and green on the attached lithograph from Native
Reserve 17614. This excision has never been regarded
as a happy one, either by this Department or the natives
of the area. The excised area includes a large number of
places still retaining important significance in the native
mythology and still used as ceremonial places or as
stories associated with theid mythological heroes. As a
consequence, there were objections voiced by the natives
when the men employed by the Mining Company began travelling
all over the Mining Reserve in search of nickel and water.
In addition there was the unfortunate incident when one
of the men employed by the Company became sexually involved
with one of the native women.
Recently the size of this Remporary Mining Reserve
was reduced to the area shaded in green. The area
shaded in yellow is now vacant Crown Land.
In view of the above, it is now strongly
recommended that the Lands and Surveys Department be
requested to increase Native Reserve No 17614 by the
addition of the area shaded in yellow.
I am grateful for the splendid co-operation
received from Mr MacDougall of the Weapons Research
Establishment and Mr Penhall of the Northern Territory,
which together with the assistance of the West Australian
officers and our guides made possible the success of this
Superintendent, Eastern Division
Particulars of natives contacted at Badjar
Name Sex Remarks
Manuba Female Wife of Djagamara
Njanjawa Child of Manuba
Gadabi Female Wife of Djagamara
Ngindagadjugur Male Child of Gadabi
Nuni Male Child of Gadabi
Ngambugudju Male Child of Gadabi
Danara Female Child of Gadabi
Djungubi Female Wife of Djagamara
Djanangu Female Wife of Djagamara
Manyi Female Child of Djanangu
Nayungu Male Young man not fully initiated
and son of Reggie who previously
went to Warburton Ranges but
returned with this patrol to meet