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Audio Brian Manning recalls the Wave Hill walk-off, 2007

TLF ID R8852

This is an edited sound recording of Indigenous rights activist Brian Manning talking about the Wave Hill walk-off in the Northern Territory in 1966, when Gurindji workers on the Wave Hill cattle station went on strike. Manning tells how he was involved in organising the walk-off, assuring the Gurindji that, unlike previous occasions, this time they would have support. He also describes how he drove the first truckload of food to the strikers from Darwin, to be greeted with 'much celebration'. The recording was made in June 2007 and lasts for 1 min 38 s.




Educational details

Educational value
  • This is a recording of someone directly involved in helping to organise and support the Wave Hill walk-off, a strike that grew into an unprecedented seven-year protest action by the Gurindji people. About 200 Gurindji stockmen and their families walked off the Wave Hill station in late August 1966, declaring that they would not return until they received the same pay as non-Indigenous stockmen. The protest then developed into a land rights campaign.
  • In 1966, more than 4,000 Indigenous people were living on pastoral stations in the NT but those who were employed were often paid only about a quarter the rate white workers received, and their housing and general living conditions were extremely poor. The Wave Hill walk-off was prompted by such discriminatory treatment from the UK-based company Vestey, which held a long-term lease over the Wave Hill station.
  • In this recording, Manning (1932-) outlines the importance to the Gurindji people of hearing promises of support if they went ahead with strike action at Wave Hill. He describes how the pastoralists had reacted on previous occasions when strike action was taken, the Gurindji having been virtually 'starved back to work'.
  • The recording gives a sense of the joy of the strikers when Manning's truck arrived with food supplies at their temporary camp on the Victoria River, about 600 km south of Darwin. Poor communications meant that the arrival of the truck, after a 16-hour journey over rough roads, was the first time the protesters realised they had outside backing.
  • Manning, a founding member of the NT Council of Aboriginal Rights, highlights the key role it played, along with the North Australia Workers' Union, in campaigning for equal pay for Indigenous workers. When he drove from Darwin to make the first food delivery to the Wave Hill strikers, Manning was accompanied by the Council's vice-president Robert Tudawali (1929?-67) and by Dexter Daniels (c1940-97), the Union's Indigenous organiser.
  • Manning also describes how support for the Wave Hill strikers 'rolled in from all round the countryside' after the initial delivery of food. Trade unions, churches and student groups helped sustain the protest by providing food and other aid, such as water pumps and power generators. They also raised funds so the Gurindji leader Vincent Lingiari (1908-88) and others could travel around Australia to gain publicity.
Year level

4; 5; 6; 7; 8; 9; 10; 11; 12

Learning area
  • History
  • Studies of society and environment

Other details

Contributors
  • Contributor
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Description: Content provider
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
  • URL: http://www.esa.edu.au/
  • Name: Education Services Australia
  • Organization: Education Services Australia
  • Description: Data manager
  • Person: Brian Manning
  • Description: Author
  • Copyright Holder
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
  • URL: http://www.esa.edu.au/
  • Publisher
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Description: Publisher
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
  • URL: http://www.esa.edu.au/
  • Resource metadata contributed by
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
  • URL: www.esa.edu.au
Access profile
  • Colour independence
  • Device independence
Learning Resource Type
  • Audio
Rights
  • © Education Services Australia Ltd, 2013, except where indicated under Acknowledgements.