Freedom Day: Vincent Lingiari and the Story of the Wave Hill Walk-Off
When many voices are joined together, with courage, change can happen.
In 1966, more than two hundred courageous Aboriginal people walked off the Wave Hill Cattle Station in the Northern Territory. Led by Vincent Lingiari, these stockmen and their families were walking together to fight for equal pay and land rights.
Exquisitely illustrated and designed, this non-fiction picture book brings a landmark historical event to a new generation. Many people have seen the iconic photograph of Gough Whitlam pouring a handful of red soil into the hands of Vincent Lingiari – a symbol of the legal transfer of Gurindji land back to the Gurindji people – and recognise this as a key moment in the ongoing land rights movement. Freedom Day delves into the events that led up to this moment, and makes a rallying cry for the things that still need to change in its wake. Thomas Mayor co-authors this book with Rosie, Vincent Lingiari’s granddaughter, to bring this vital story to life. The story has been written in close consultation with the Lingiari family.
About the Authors
Thomas Mayor is a Torres Strait Islander man born on Larrakia country in Darwin. As an Islander growing up on the mainland, he learned to hunt traditional foods with his father and to island dance from the Darwin community of Torres Strait Islanders. In high school, Thomas’s English teacher suggested he should become a writer. He didn’t think then that he would become one of the first ever Torres Strait Islander authors to have a book published for the general trade. Instead, he became a wharf labourer from the age of seventeen, until he became a union official for the Maritime Union of Australia in his early thirties. Quietly spoken in character, Thomas found his voice on the wharves. As he gained the skills of negotiation and organising in the union movement, he applied those skills to advancing the rights of Indigenous peoples, becoming a signatory to the Uluru Statement from the Heart and a tireless campaigner. Following the Uluru Convention, Thomas was entrusted to carry the sacred canvas of the Uluru Statement from the Heart. He then embarked on an eighteen-month journey around the country to garner support for a constitutionally enshrined First Nations voice, and a Makarrata Commission for truth-telling and agreement-making or treaties. Thomas’s journey continues, both in person and through the pages of this book. The book is his gift to the campaign for Voice, Treaty and Truth. Like the Uluru Statement from the Heart, he hopes that all Australians will accept it.