The Remembering the Freedom Ride to Walgett project was initiated by Mary Purse, the Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service (WAMS) Chairperson, pictured above with her daughter Amy Townsend. Mary is the daughter of the late Harry Hall who was a primary leader, along with the late Charles Perkins (AO).
Little of the history of the Freedom Ride is publicly recorded or known from the perspective of local Aboriginal people from Walgett, who both themselves and their ancestors took part in this significant event in history. The project includes history and archival research to tell the story of the Freedom Ride and its surrounding events from the perspective of the local Gamilaraay and Yuwaalaraay people. It is being led by Mary Purse, assisted by Christine Corby OAM, the Chief Executive Officer of WAMS. WAMS has been collaborating on this project with a historian from Nura Gili, UNSW to research the history through participation of local community members and their families who took part in these events.
The project began with WAMS securing state government funding to develop an artwork to commemorate the Freedom Ride to Walgett to be displayed in a park in Walgett. The display will focus on Walgett’s association with the Freedom Ride, identifying significant local Aboriginal people who had a key role in the demonstrations and events specific to the town. Landscaping works will include fences, shelter, paths, and planting.