I’ve not written a review on here for a while, but I bought this book at the weekend, and it only took me two days to read it – and I’m usually a very slow reader!
Follow the Rabbit Proof Fence is the story of three Australian aboriginal sisters who were taken from their community in Nortwestern Australia. In 1931 the government decided that all mixed race aboriginal children should be removed from their families and taken to settlements to be educated – in order to encourage the potential of their white heritage, in the hope that they would then go on to be employed by white people in service roles.
The idea was that in these settlements children would be disciplined in order to remove any trace of their aboriginal heritage – they would be taught how to be culturally white.
This is a true story about Molly, Daisy and Gracie who were removed from their settlement and taken to Moore River Native Settlement, where they quickly decided they did not want to stay. And so, they left. The book is written by Doris Pilkington, daughter of Molly.
What followed was a barefoot journey of 2400km with no supplies, no tents, no adults, no coats. Molly, aged just 15, knew that if she could find the rabbit proof fence, they could follow it all the way back to their family at Jigalong.
The book begins by explaining some of the back story and providing context for how aboriginal people eneded up being driven off the land they had previously wandered at will.
I found this fascinating – not only for the story but for the insight into aboriginal culture. I think this part of Australian history is not really talked about much. The book contains extracts from telegrams and letters sent between various police constables and “Protectors of Aboriginies” as they searched for the missing girls, as well as newspaper reports.
This is a truly amazing story that was made into a film in 2002. In my opinion, the book is better than the film, in that it provides more details – and the story in the film is a bit more dramatised than the book.
Read this book if you like:
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