Outrage at Whitegate

A few weeks ago someone cut the water supply to a town camp on the outskirts of Alice Springs. The ‘camp’ belongs, by ancient practice and by government fiat, to a local clan of Aboriginal people, heirs to a tradition of tenure that goes back beyond white settlement, beyond the dawn of written history. Whitegate is far from how we might imagine a camp, being neither an attractive resort nor a place of refugees. Whitegate Town Camp is not in any sense a place of temporary habitation. It is habitat, it is country. It belongs to the Hayes clan as the clan belongs to Whitegate.

Governments wish to take over the camp, ostensibly to modernise and improve it. They seek to unseat tenure and replace this with long leases. The longest paper lease imaginable would be but momentary in the context and the conception of the Hayes family. Such paper devalues and threatens a connection which is inalienable in nature and beyond secular legal conception.

So someone cut the water supply. Just possibly the government is not responsible. Responsible or not, government could quickly supply water but this has not happened. Nor has repair of the camp’s long defunct solar generation. Whitegate, long a garden of neglect is now a wilderness, occupied by human Australians. Other Australians, notably whitefella writer-artist Rod Moss, supply water and burnable fuel for heating and cooking.

In the present historic moment of human barbarity it is noteworthy that none of the parties to the conflict in the Middle East – not even Assad’s Syria – has ever cut water supplies to its foe. Such an act seems to be beyond human imagining. Except in Alice Springs.

Actions to protest this barbarism will take place in coming days and weeks, actions that are notably harmonious in nature and intent, ‘Aboriginal way.’

How have we fallen so low?


8 thoughts on “Outrage at Whitegate

  1. I am shocked, that this can happen in this age and time. What and why are we”humans” doing this? I am an old woman, 80 years old, and came to this beautiful country in 1957, totally ignorant about the racism and treatment of indiginous people.This is absurd and inhumane. Having survived the war in Europe (Holland) I did not think that we are able to to behave in a manner as we are now doing still. Terrible, And there is nothing I can do anymore ro help. Being Jewish, I have protested against all kind of social and political Injustices, also for Israel. Let them get water! for always, it is a basic need!
    I like to wish Howard Goldenberg a shanah tovah, with good health and many more books, please!


  2. Not only did you look after my family in Diamo in days gone by, Howard, but you’ve picked up on an issue that I spent a long time struggling with back in the 1970s, when ALL the Alice Springs Town Camps faced the same careless racism that we see in official dealings over water with Irrkerlantye today.

    Here’s something I wrote back in 1976 which, amongst other things, talks about the “water issues” in those days. Looks like they want to take places like Irrkerlantye back to to square minus 1 😦 http://www.rodhagen.com.au/Alice_Springs_Life_in_the_70s/Life_in_the_1970s_in_Central_Australia.html


  3. I cannot believe that in the 21st century, and 226 years after England occupied this land without consent, nor feelings of guilt, that the attitude that the original native peoples were an inferior, barbaric, non Christian minor impediment to a far superior race of humans, STILL EXISTS today! It is quite obvious ALL forms of government in this land called Australia are RACIST! I do believe that the majority of we humans who live in this land are NOT racist and I say ENOUGH! The Aboriginal people of Alice Springs and ALL other areas of this land are NOT inferior humans and deserve the assistance from us ALL to be able to raise themselves to live their lives as only THEY know how. NOT as our gubbahments force them. It is inhumane to force aboriginal people to enter into leases for their OWN lands! WE, humans of British ancestry should thank the Aboriginal people for being the comparatively placid, anti warlike humans they always have been, sadly it is their natural anti war attitudes that have allowed US to steal their lands so completely.


    • Love your passion , Bruce

      Good men like you cry out and badness retreats: Whitegate has water for a year


      This is not a simple case of whitefellas oppressing blackfellas: bess price is the local member, indigenous, and clearly very urinated-off by the Hayes family of Whitegate. Old scores, old sores….

      Good on you brucie



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