Acknowledgement: We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we work and live, and recognise their continuing connection to land, water and community. We also pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging.

Remembering the Freedom Ride to Walgett

In 1965, a busload of university students set out from Sydney on a Freedom Ride to expose deep set racism and segregation of Aboriginal people in rural New South Wales.

Walgett was the site of the first Freedom Ride demonstration on 15 February 1965, staged in front of the RSL to draw attention to the exclusion of Aboriginal ex-servicemen.  The Freedom Riders held signs stating 'Aborigines also Fought' and 'Good Enough for Tobruk why not Walgett RSL?'  Their presence was supported by local Aboriginal people, but opposed by the white community, some of whom drove the bus off the road as it left town.

This brought attention to the everyday discrimination and segregation of the Aboriginal people in the Walgett community, marking the beginning of change in Walgett.  These are the stories from the perspective of local Gamilaraay and Yuwaalaraay people, who took part in the Freedom Ride and its surrounding events.

The Beginning

The arrest of two 9 year old Aboriginal boys for a petty theft in Walgett in 1964, brought the attention

The Demonstrations

Walgett was the site of the first Freedom Ride demonstration. The students stood in front of the local RSL that

The Response

The students’ demonstration triggered intense hostility among many of the white people in Walgett. Phillip Hall, with his friends, learnt


After visits between Sydney and Walgett a plan was made to desegregate the local cinema, the Luxury Theatre, where Aboriginal

Commemoration of the Freedom Ride to Walgett

A park in the centre of Walgett, with a public art and narrative display
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