Ann Curthoys' diaries

Ann Curthoys' diaries have become an essential piece of historical material that tells the story of the 1965 Freedom Ride. Members of the Student Action for Aborigines organisation also produced many useful items that provide insight into this watershed moment in Australian history.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that the Freedom Ride documents include names and images of deceased persons in photographs and in print.

1965
Page #36

While tea was being cooked there was another round of publicity, photograph taking etc. - us throwing boomerangs, us posing in front of the bus and so on and so on and so on.

We left for Taree at about 8.00 p.m., arriving there fairly late. As it was the last night quite a few of us were celebrating and getting merry. When we arrived at the Taree showground, which smelt awful, there were 2 huts. The drinkers went in one hut and the sleepers in the other. I was a sleeper, being absolutely exhausted.

Taree Friday

Woke early. Had breakfast, which was horrible curried baked beans. At about 8.30 am we got going. We stopped at the Purfleet reserve for half an hour, talking to the people there. But we had to be off, and so we pushed on to Newcastle, getting there in time for lunch. Rang Dad up and he came out and we had a bit of a talk. Apparently we could have got a big welcome at the...

1965
Page #37

Workers Club if they could have found out about us. After lunch and a swim we went on to Sydney. We had a rule about no drinking, so that we wouldn't turn up to the press conference drunk and smelly. We got all tense etc near the end, because of the press conference. Had tea at Hornsby and then drove on to Uni. When we arrived there was Ted Noffs, a few pressmen, some parents etc. and that's about all. No aborigines or other supporters. We found out later that Noffs had deliberately not told anyone where and when we were arriving. After that some of us went to John Powell's place for a wind up party. About 10.30 pm I left and went home, thoroughly exhausted. Tired but happy, as the primary school compositions go.

1965
Page #38

Summary of Wellington

Got seven interviews on the settlement just outside the reserve, and two in the town. General picture of scarcity of jobs. Mainly garden work, which is very seasonal. Average of three months for year out of work. Some working on a dam nearby. Some did shearing jobs. Did not encounter or hear of any women with jobs at all. Did not seem to know much about social services etc.

1965
Page #1

Saturday 
12.30 Depart University 
6.00 Arrive Orange 
8.00 Breakfast – Orange Presbyterian Fellowship, TV interview 
9.30 Leave Orange 
12.30 Arrive Wellington

Went to settlement outside reserve. Police warned us not to go into reserve. Interviewed about ten tin shacks of people. Most of us found the questionnaires unsuitable. Houses of tin, mud floors, very overcrowded, kids had eye diseases, had to cart water (very unhealthy) from river. People fairly easy to talk to, kids quite friendly. General picture of extreme poverty but not a great deal of social discrimination.

Lunch 1.30. Apparently Jim S and a few others came across some discrimination in a pub. An aboriginal was allowed in only because he was with us. The publican said he only prevented aborigines from coming in "if they were disorderly". Charlie went in and there was some discussion between the barmaid and the publican before they served him. Some aborigines told us they had been kicked out of this pub, the "Courthouse".

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