Moola Bulla was established as a government-run station near Wyndham. It was established to be self-supporting, training Aboriginal families to farm the land with European methods. Children were removed from other locations and placed at Moola Bulla, or were sent from there to institutions in Perth. Moola Bulla closed in 1955.
Moola Bulla Station was established on the Halls Creek Road, near Wyndham, Western Australia, in 1910 as a government-run pastoral station. Children at Moola Bulla were under the guardianship of the head of the departments responsible for Aboriginal welfare.
According to the Bringing Them Home report (p.92), the Chief Protector of Aborigines, AO Neville 'wanted to take control of the missions' in the northwest and 'turn them into self-supporting cattle stations.' The report goes on to describe why Moola Bulla was seen as a 'model' for this approach:
It had opened in 1910 as a ration depot and government-run cattle station. It was intended to be an alternative to the more expensive option of imprisoning large numbers of Aboriginal people for cattle spearing as well as 'raising beef to feed them and … training men for work on the stations' (Long 1970 page 192).
The Bringing Them Home report notes that 'Indigenous families did not willingly move to these settlements' (pages 92-93) includes some examples of testimony:
When I was about twelve or thirteen years old I was taken to Moola Bulla. That's where I lost my Aboriginal ways. The Police came one day from Halls Creek when they were going on patrol to Lansdowne and found me, a half-caste child. The manager … took me down to Fitzroy Crossing to wait for the mail truck from Derby to take me to Moola Bulla. When [the manager's wife] told my people, mum and dad, that they were taking me to Fitzroy Crossing for a trip, they told her 'you make sure you bring her back'. They did not know that I would never see them again. Quoted by Kimberley Land Council submission 345 on page 66.
The welfare just grabbed you where they found you. They'd take them in threes and fours, whatever. The Native Welfare blokes used to come to every station and see where our half caste kids were. They used to drive right down to Port Hedland. Our people would hide us, paint us with charcoal. I was taken to Moola Bulla. The Welfare bloke … sent his son … to pick up me and […]. We were about 5-6 years old, and my mother was allowed to come with us in the manager's car and then he took her away. Quoted by Kimberley Land Council submission 345 on page 60.
Bringing Them Home (pages 95-96) shows that the policy of assimilation also influenced the placement of children at Moola Bulla:
Some kids who were brought to Moola Bulla and who were too white would be sent to Sister Kate's in Perth and some of them who were too dark for Sister Kate's were sent to Moola Bulla. There was a half-caste boy who was at Moola Bulla, his mother was half-caste and his father white, and I suppose they couldn't bear to see him down the camp with all these Aboriginal people so they sent him to Sister Kate's. Confidential evidence 814, Western Australia.
On 21 January 1955, Moola Bulla was transferred from the Department of Aboriginal Welfare to the Lands Department. Although some children may have gone with family groups to the United Aborigines' Missions at Fitzroy Crossing and Halls Creek, Haebich (2000) has said that most children were transferred to Beagle Bay.
Sources used to compile this entry: Bringing Them Home: The 'Stolen Children' Report (1997), Australian Human Rights Commission, 2011, https://humanrights.gov.au/our-work/aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-social-justice/publications/bringing-them-home; Haebich, Anna, Broken circles: fragmenting indigenous families 1800-2000, Fremantle Arts Centre Press, Fremantle, Western Australia, 2000. p.499.; Longworth, Alison, Was it worthwhile?, An historical analysis of five women missionaries and their encounters with the Nyungar people of south-west Australia, Murdoch University, Murdoch, Western Australia, 2005, http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/163/2/02Whole.pdf. pp.298-299.; State Solicitor's Office of Western Australia, 'p.88', Guide to Institutions Attended by Aboriginal People in Western Australia, Government of Western Australia, 2005, http://web.archive.org/web/20140126131607/http://www.dpc.wa.gov.au/lantu/MediaPublications/Documents/Guide-to-Institutions-attended-by-Aboriginal-people-in-WA-2005.pdf; 'Western Australia Protectors Reports 1899-1959', in To Remove and Protect: Aboriginal Lives Under Control [website], Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, National Library of Australia, http://aiatsis.gov.au/collections/collections-online/digitised-collections/remove-and-protect/western-australia. Annual Report of the Commissioner of Native Welfare 1959 p.9..
Prepared by: Debra Rosser
Created: 14 January 2012, Last modified: 20 June 2014