Gurindji Freedom Day Festival and John Goldschmidt's The Unlucky Australians

In August 2016 Ben will be travelling with Professor Keir Reeves and Dr Tim Harrison of Federation University and Luke Grimes of MADE (Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka) to the Gurindji Freedom Festival at Kalkarindji and Daguragu in the Northern Territory.

There Ben will take part in the screening of The Unlucky Australians, a documentary on the Wave Hill Walk Off made in the 1970s by the the British filmmaker John Goldschmidt and the Australian author Frank Hardy. Ben will also feature on a panel entitled 'Walk Off Inspired', with artist Peter Hudson and journalist Shirley Hardy Rix.


The Unlucky Australians (1974)

In the early 1970s British filmmaker John Goldschmidt travelled to Australia to make a film for Associated Television UK. Having supported the American Civil Rights movement in the United States and People’s Democracy in Northern Ireland, Goldschmidt arrived determined to make a film about the unfolding struggle for Aboriginal rights. After visits to Alice Springs and Darwin, Goldschmidt went to Sydney where he met the author Frank Hardy. Soon the filmmaker had his story.

At Manly, Hardy provided Goldschmidt with an account of the Wave Hill Walk Off and of the Gurindji people's ongoing campaign for land rights. Having been closely involved with the walk off of Aboriginal stockman from Lord Vestey's cattle station in 1966, Hardy had remained an ardent supporter of the Gurindji and their struggle to reclaim their ancestral homelands. Hardy’s book on the Walk Off, The Unlucky Australians, had also played a vital role in communicating the situation in the Northern Territory to audiences across Australia and overseas. Now Goldschmidt, his crew, and Hardy travelled North to commit the Gurindji story to film.

Goldschmidt's film, The Unlucky Australians, eventually screened in Britain and Europe to an audience of millions, though it was never broadcast in Australia. Although Hardy and others took copies of the film to the Gurindji themselves (screening it on the side of a truck) in the heated political climate of the 1970s a combination of political and commercial pressure over land rights conspired to keep it from view.

Now in 2016, the 50th Anniversary Year of the Wave Hill Walk Off, Federation University's Collaborative Research Centre in Australian History (CRCAH) have been working with colleagues at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka to organise a number of screenings of the film in Australia. The first screening was held at MADE in July to coincide with the opening of the Australian Historical Association conference. The second screening will be at the Gurindji Freedom Day Festival in the Northern Territory on Saturday the 20th of August.