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Cleared Out

Cleared Out

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Cleared Out. The incredible story of a family and of the desert dwelling Martu people who in 1964 made their first contact with white settlers. An extraordinary piece of history, exhaustively researched and written with a family who lived it firsthand. Winner of the 2005 Western Australian Premier's Book Award and the 2005 Western Australian Premier's History Award.


In 1964, a group of 20 Aboriginal women and children in the Western Desert made their first contact with European Australians—patrol officers from the Woomera Rocket Range, clearing an area into which rockets were to be fired. They had been pursued by the patrol officers for several weeks, running from this frightening new force in the desert.

Yuwali, 17 at the time, remembers every detail of the drama – first seeing these ‘devils’ and their ‘rocks that moved’, escaping the strange intruders.

Her sharp recollections are complemented in a 3-part diary of the ‘chase’ by the colourful official reports of the patrol. These reflect a similar drama – arguments within government about the treatment of desert inhabitants and public scepticism about the government’s intent. Maps and illustrations complement the text.

Cleared Out combines three oral histories, detailed archival research and a wealth of photographs and rare film footage from the patrol. Through one extraordinary episode, the multiple perspectives on the moment of contact are revealed.


208 pages.

Adult non-fiction, history.

Published by Aboriginal Studies Press.

Written by Sue Davenport, Peter Johnson and Yuwali.

23cm x 19cm.

Sue Davenport currently coordinates Kanyirninpa Jukurrpa the Martu history and archive project that seeks to repatriate records and images to the Martu people.

Peter Johnson through his work has developed a continuing interest in the gap between government policy and the front-line effects it has on communities. He works full-time with Sue Davenport on Kanyirninpa Jukurrpa.

Yuwali Janice Nixon was born and raised in the Percival Lakes region in Western Australia. In 1999, she worked with Sue in a research project and develop the story from which this book has grown.

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