This week we’re looking at the role that Indigenous people have played and still play in Australia’s pastoral industry. As you might have heard, we’ve just marked the 45th anniversary of the Wave Hill walk-off. The anniversary was a celebration of the Aboriginal stockmen and their families, mainly Gurindji people, who in 1966 walked off Wave Hill Station in the Northern Territory as a protest against work and pay conditions.
Their determination started a process that ended in bipartisan support for the recognition of the rights of Aboriginal people to land, fair wages and a brighter future for their children. The efforts of the Wave Hill stockmen and their families changed the lives of all Australians forever. They were typical of the men and women around Australia who contributed so greatly to the establishment of Australia’s pastoral industry. Seventy-five-year-old Herb Wharton is one of the old drovers who contributed so much. He was born in Cunnamulla in Queensland, where he began his working life as a drover, and he’s gone on to become a celebrated author and poet. He told Newslines’ Trevor Ellis about the importance of Indigenous men and women to the pastoral industry in the early days.