The author of a new book about the Wave Hill walk-off says some of the optimism in the land rights movement has faded since the 1970s, but the defiance of the Gurindji people continues to inspire people “right around the country”.
Historian Charlie Ward has released his new book A Handful of Sand to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the walk-off.
“I think [the walk-off] does still shine a light for people in difficult times, and I think it always will,” Mr Ward told Stan Grant on NITV’s The Point program.
“It’s a very powerful story and people here know that full well, and want to share it with everybody who’s interested,” he said.
Asked whether he thought the Gurindji struggle for land rights remained a forgotten story, Mr Ward said there were probably “millions” of Australians who did not know the history.
“Australia now is a very multicultural society, and very urban,” he said.
The historian said his years of research had led him to believe Vincent Lingiari was a “natural leader”.
Mr Lingiari led the Gurindji walk-off, and nine years later, was handed the deeds for the land by then-prime minister Gough Whitlam.
“He was a very respectful person and that engendered respect from other people.”
Charlie Ward’s book A Handful of Sand goes on sale this week.