Rabbit-Proof Fence

The True Story of One of the Greatest Escapes of All Time

This book is not a novel nor a fancy travel book that will make you wish you had booked those plane tickets to Australia. It is an account, a testimony. It tells the true story of Molly, Daisy and Gracie, three semi-Aboriginal girls in the early 1930s who trekked for 9 weeks through the Western Australian outback to go back to their families. Like so many “half-caste” children at the time (Aboriginals fathered by White men), they had been taken away by force from their families and deported hundreds of kilometers south to a “Native settlement”, a school for half-caste children, really more a concentration camp where they were forced to give up their Native ways and languages, learn English and basic skills that would in time make them an obedient, assimilated workforce. Despite the threat of having their head shaved, their body punished and being locked up in a cell, they escaped, unaware that they were then a thousand kilometers away from their home.

Doris Pilkington has gathered archives and the memories of her mother and aunts, the heroines of this story. She weaves them into a linear, relentless, vivid piece of travel writing. As for myself, I had my jaws clenched tight through many pages. That trek through the outback with the girls gave me ample time to reflect upon the horrors of White colonialism, its brutality and its hypocrisy. Many times I wanted to be there, sitting with the girls in the red sand of the bush, and tell them: “I am sorry.”

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