Australian freedom rides

All of us are very determined that we are doing the right thing despite the mayor's warning over the radio that our return would cause harm. Aboriginal student Charles Perkins was, by the end of the journey, a national figure in the fight for Aboriginal rights.

There was not water on, but the river water was taken to taps in the yard. We went off quickly, leaving Alex Mills behind because it was obvious there was considerable hostility in the ranks of the pub leavers.

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It exposed an endemic racism. You have been going with my sister for two years in the dark! They had never seen anything like it in their lives. A protest on behalf of the town niggers! Outside Walgett Jim Spigelman trained his home movie camera on the hostile convoy of cars which followed the bus out of town at night and ran it off the road. Comment on the purpose of the camera shots during the video of an Aboriginal fringe settlement, and your reaction to these scenes. They weren't allowed in and neither were Charlie or Gary. It tipped slightly but not right over. We noticed a sign above the doorway of the halfway hotel - "Aborigines not allowed in the Lounge without the Licensee's permission". You whites come down to our camp and chase our young girls around at night!

In Walgett their bus was rammed off the road. Outside Walgett Jim Spigelman trained his home movie camera on the hostile convoy of cars which followed the bus out of town at night and ran it off the road.

They either laughed at us or spat at us or on the banners. It was getting dark too.

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It exposed an endemic racism. Then Charlie arrived with a bus load of 21 aboriginal boys and they had to be all let in. Everybody came in! Then we went to one particular road in town where a lot of Aborigines live.

Australian freedom rides

He stood with us all the way. A group of students from the University of Sydney, inspired by the United States Freedom Rides, got on a bus on 12 February, and toured through regional towns such as Walgett, Gulargambone, Kempsey, Bowraville and Moree to show wider Australia the experience of Aboriginal Australians. We had broken the ban! He produced a radio documentary of the experience which he titled "The Australian Freedom Rides". At first we weren't sure where to start - the town was just so bad. Some of them got banners and tore them up. Eggs and tomatoes were still thrown. Captured on tape was the vice-president of the Walgett Returned Service League Club who said he would never allow an Aboriginal to become a member. It described the conditions of aborigines on the far north coast, really exposed the complexities of the problem and suggested concrete solutions. While we stood there the town came to life like an ant heap.

Darce Cassidy recorded the angry conversations and filed a report to the ABC. Students were shocked at the living conditions which Aboriginal people endured outside the towns.

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They were not allowed in any of the hotels and they had to get their beer and were sold cheap plonk through the back windows at three times the price, through sly-grogging operations.

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