Crusaders Camp Mission Hostel at Otford, near Sydney's Royal National Park, was used by the Church Missionary Society in 1942 to house 98 Aboriginal children who had been evacuated from Croker Island, north of Darwin in the Northern Territory. The evacuees, who were accompanied by the Croker Island Mission staff, were wards of the Commonwealth Government. These children, who were aged 1 to 16, were defined at the time as 'half-castes'. The evacuees had left by 1946.
The Cairns Post and The Argus of 20 May 1942 reported that 98 'half-caste' children from the Methodist Mission on Croker Island, Northern Territory, had arrived in Melbourne, after travelling seven weeks by lugger, truck, rail and foot via the Methodist Inland Mission in Alice Springs. The children were aged from 1-16 and the newspaper reported they would be sent to Sydney, to Otford (which The Cairns Post called 'Oxford'), under the care of Mr K. Wale, superintendent of Croker Island Mission. Wale told the newspaper they would be 'educated and fitted to take their place in society, which he considers has been denied them in the past.' The younger children from Croker Island attended Otford school during their time in the hostel, whilst the older children attended Scarborough school. Many of the high school aged girls attended Wollongong Domestic Home Science High School, and received weekly cooking classes at Burwood High School. The carers included Miss Margaret Somerville, who had been with the children since Croker Island, and Misses Olive Peek and J Marsh.
Sources used to compile this entry: 'Half-Caste Children. From Croker Island. On Way to Sydney.', Cairns Post, 20 May 1942, http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/42344718; 'Long Journey for Aboriginal Children', The Argus, 20 May 1942, http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/11977138; George, Karen and George, Gary, 'Interstate movement of Northern Territory children (1942-1970s)', in Find & Connect web resource, Find & Connect web resource project for the Commonwealth of Australia, 2013, http://www.findandconnect.gov.au/ref/nt/biogs/YE00088b.htm; George, Karen and George, Gary, 'Croker Island Mission (1940 - 1968)', in Find & Connect web resource, Find & Connect web resource project for the Commonwealth of Australia, 2014, http://www.findandconnect.gov.au/ref/nt/biogs/YE00021b.htm; Henty-Gebert, Claire, Paint Me Black: Memories Of Croker Island And Other Journeys, Aboriginal Studies Press for the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, Canberra, 2005, 72 pp, https://aiatsis.gov.au/publication/35669.
Prepared by: Naomi Parry
Created: 20 November 2012, Last modified: 13 February 2018