Author(s): Doris Pilkington; Nugi Garimara
The film Rabbit-Proof Fence is based on this true account of Doris Pilkington's mother Molly, who as a young girl led her two sisters on an extraordinary 1,600 kilometre walk home. Under Western Australia's invidious removal policy of the 1930s, the girls were taken from their Aboriginal families at Jigalong on the edge of the Little Sandy Desert, and transported halfway across the state to the Native Settlement at Moore River, north of Perth. Here Aboriginal children were instructed in the ways of white society and forbidden to speak their native tongue.The three girls - aged 8, 11 and 14 - managed to escape from the settlement's repressive conditions and brutal treatment. Barefoot, without provisions or maps, they set out to find the rabbit-proof fence, knowing it passed near their home in the north. Tracked by Native Police and search planes, they hid in terror, surviving on bush tucker, desperate to return to the world they knew.
Winner of Australia Council: Red Ochre Award 2008.
Pilkington was born at Balfour Downs Station, near the north Western Australian settlement of Jigalong. Her mother, Molly, named her Nugi Garimara, but she was called Doris after Molly's employer at the station, Mary Dunnet.
As her birth was unregistered, her birth date was recorded as 1 July 1937 by the Department of Native Affairs. She was taken from her mother to be raised at the Moore River mission when she was three and a half years old.