Kalkarindji / Daguragu
The Council Office for the Ward is in Kalkarindji, and is also the service centre for the nearby Indigenous community of Daguragu.
The Kalkarindji Council Office employs 24 staff members with 87 per cent of employees being Indigenous. They provide the core functions of Parks & Gardens, Waste Management, Road Maintenance, Traffic Control, Administration. The council also runs the Community Night Patrol, Aged Care, Sports & Recreation, Remote Indigenous Broadcasting, Aerodrome Maintenance, Australia post, and Centrelink services.
Kalkarindji is situated approximately 460 km south-west of Katherine on the Buntine Highway, adjacent to the Victoria River. Daguragu is located approximately eight kilometres north-west of Kalkarindji, adjacent to Wattie Creek.
In 1966, the Indigenous station workers, led by Vincent Lingiari, staged a walk-off in protest against oppressive labour practices. On 23 August 1966, led by spokesman Vincent Lingiari, the workers and families walked off Wave Hill and began their seven-year strike. Lingiari led workers to an important sacred site nearby at Wattie Creek (now Daguragu).
Initially, the action was interpreted as purely a strike against work and living conditions. The primary demand by the Gurindji people was for return of their land. Novelist, Frank Hardy, was one of the many non-Indigenous Australians who supported the Gurindji struggle through the strike years.
The Gurindji people were able to mobilise support across Australia. There were demonstrations and arrests in southern Australia in support of the walk-off, and many churches, student and trade union groups gave practical and fundraising support to the Gurindji struggle. Several significant events marked the change in opinion in Australia. These included the 1967 Referendum giving the Federal Government power to make laws for Indigenous Australians, established by the Whitlam Government Royal Commission into Aboriginal Land Rights, and the passing of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act.
In 1975, the Whitlam Government finally negotiated with the owners of Wavehill Station, the Vesteys, to give the Gurindji people back a portion of their land. This was a landmark in the Land Rights movement in Australia for Indigenous Australians.
Each year the historical Walk-Off is commemorated through the Freedom Day Festival held in August. The festival celebrates the iconic occasion that saw the then Prime Minister Gough Whitlam hand back a portion of land to its Traditional Owners, the Gurindji people.
Culture and Heritage
The Gurindji people’s traditional lands comprise about 3,250 km² of the Northern Territory. The Gurindji people first encountered Europeans in the 1850s. A large Pastoral Operation was established in the 1880s. Kalkarindji and Daguragu are the population centres of the land formerly held under the Wave Hill Cattle Station.