“Follow the Rabbit Proof Fence”   (A true story, written by Paul Manning)

 “Follow the rabbit proof fence”   (A true story, written by Paul Manning.)

The longest fence in the world runs for well over 2000 miles and is to be found in Western Australia, it is called “The Rabbit proof fence”, and runs from the northern coast right down to the southern.  Its erection took six years and was completed in 1907, at a cost of £337,841, an absolute fortune in those days. It was built to separate and protect the more arable lands that grew valuable crops and grains and therefore from the millions of rabbits that consumed the crops year in year out, something had to be done to prevent this.

Thousands of laborers, 350 camels, 250 horses and 41 donkeys, many of which perished under the constant strain of work, were employed to carry out the exhausting task. This was amidst the most barren, inhospitable and water-less terrain possibly imaginable. Many workers succumbed to the heat and died of sunstroke or exhaustion as they pushed themselves in a race to complete their section of the fence in a quest to gain their share of the money up for grabs.

The wire meshing had to be buried 6 inches below ground, to prevent the rabbits from tunneling under it, and projected above by over 3 feet along its full course. This was not found sufficiently high enough, as the rabbits were able to jump over it, so a further 6 inches of barbed wire was later added to the top. This meant excavation of ground that was hard and rocky and impervious to the hand tools of the day. It was a slow and tedious process, so much so that many workers went insane due to the monotony of the work and of course the unending scorching heat.  

The fence needed constant maintenance and replacement as over the years whole stretches of it wore out and collapsed. The Aborigines resented the fence deeply and regarded it as some sort of prison and an affront to their belief that the land was a living thing and that they were a literal part of it. Because of this whenever they came across it, in their wanderings, they by design, or by supposed accident, made sure it was damaged in parts.   

There is something very symbolic and powerful about this fence something that will absolutely astonish you all. It is not the fact that the fence was an absolute waste of time and money and of life, because inevitably it failed miserably to keep any of the vermin rabbit out, no! It is that fact that 3 indigenous Aboriginal children followed it all the way and walked over 1500 miles back to their homeland and to their mother and families whom they had been forcibly taken from by the white man and by his unjust Australian laws at the time. I shall explain….

 In those days there was not so much contact between the Aborigines and the whites as there was  later on and today, and so interbreeding was not so common and was frowned upon by most white people anyway. However, come the rabbit proof fence and all that was about to change, because due to its erection it brought the two races into closer contact and proximity like never before.

At a place called “Jigalong”, that ran right along by the fence, a party of white men had been busy sweating their guts out maintaining it. Eventually Jigalong became a regular staging post for the white men, many small wooden huts for storage were built and it became a place where the “Blacks” could get food and rations that was handed out to them under government policy and by the same men that worked on the fence. Inevitably many of these white men consorted with the aboriginal women that came to collect their supplies there, the resulting offspring were termed as “half-castes”.

Very few who fathered these children stood by them or by the poor women that gave birth to them and usually they disappeared back to their distant white towns after their fence work was accomplished. Many of these irresponsible men didn’t even know that they had fathered a child, nor did they care. Under such circumstances thousands of children came into the world, all of them considered by the white men as half-castes and by the OZ government as an unwanted new race, a problem that had to be dealt with in some way or other.

 And so 3 such mixed race children were born at Jigalong to their respective mothers and grew to adolescence.  There were the two sisters, 14-year-old Molly Craig and 8-year-old Daisy Kadibil, and their 10 year old cousin Gracie Fields. Meanwhile thousands of miles away, in 1930, the appointed ‘Protector of Western Australian Aborigines’ (A. O. Neville) signs an order to relocate the three girls to his re-education camp, this was the law of the day. The children are referred to by Neville as “half-castes”, because they have one white and one aboriginal parent.

Neville’s reasoning is portrayed as being that the Aboriginal peoples of Australia are a danger to themselves, and that the “half-castes” must be bred out of existence. He plans to place them in a camp where they, along with all half-castes of that age range, will grow up. They will then presumably become labourers and servants to white families, regarded as a ‘good’ situation for them in life. Eventually if they later marry, it will be to white people and thus the Aboriginal ‘blood’ is to become less and less, until it is bred out over time, this was the plan anyway. As such, Molly, Daisy and Gracie are forcibly taken from Jigalong from their families and removed to a camp at the ‘Moore River Settlement’, which is over 15 hundred miles to the south.

After many months Molly, Gracie, and Daisy decide to escape the camp and decide to walk back home to Jigalong at first they have no idea how, but they are going to damn well try! An Aboriginal tracker, Moodoo, is called in to find them. However, the girls are well trained in disguising their tracks. They evade Moodoo several times, receiving aid from strangers in the harsh Australian country they travel in. After many weeks evading capture and suffering hunger and exposure they eventually find the rabbit-proof fence, knowing that they can follow it north to Jigalong, but Jigalong is fifteen hundred miles away! Neville soon figures out their strategy and sends Moodoo and a local Constable, Mr Riggs, after them. Although he is an experienced tracker, Moodoo is unable to find them and gives up.

Sadly one of the girls, Gracie, is captured as she waits to sneak aboard a train after being separated from her 2 friends and presumably she is sent back to the ‘Moore River Settlement.’  After nearly making it home and after trekking for many hundreds of miles Gracie is never heard of ever again. Finally Molly and Daisy after many, many months of captivity and walking are reunited with their mother and families after a remarkable journey of 1500 miles, step by step and sometimes carrying each other.

Mr Neville was to later write to Constable Riggs, the police officer in charge of the recovery of the 3 girls, the following: 

“At present we lack the funds to pursue the missing ‘half-caste’ girls, Molly and Daisy. I would ask to be kept informed of their whereabouts so that at some future date they may indeed be recovered. We face an uphill battle with these people, especially the ‘bush natives’, who have to be protected against themselves. If only they would understand what we are trying to do for them.”   

And this wicked man was meant to be protecting the Aborigines his mind was obviously warped by predjudice to write such a patronising letter as this.

This is a true story and the lessons our own UK government can learn from it are wasted upon them, because they continue, even today, to snatch innocent children from their loving parents by the use of the evils of the Social Services, the modern day “Moodoo” child catchers. The modern day counterparts of Molly and Daisy are OUR children that have been illegally taken from us and tortured along the way, by injustice and by evil laws that have no mercy or proper foundation, just as the cruel Australian government applied to the Aboriginal peoples back then, nothing has changed.

 In time I hope that everyone of your, of our lost children, will find their way back home to us by following the illustrative “rabbit proof fence”. It is a fence that cannot be broken down. It is the fence that I hope all our lost children will follow back to us. It is our bond of love for each other and we must all keep following it no matter what. “Follow the rabbit proof fence” till we are all home together and united.

I dedicate this to my dear son Elliott, who I know will follow that same fence back to me.

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