Harry Hall with Charles Perkins in front of the Oasis. (Courtesy of Mary Hall.)

The Beginning

The arrest of two 9 year old Aboriginal boys for a petty theft in Walgett in 1964, brought the attention of wider public to its extreme racism and segregation of Aboriginal people, the Gamilaraay and the Yuwaalaraay and the nearby Waiylwan. Sydney based Aboriginal-Australian Fellowship (AAF) had since the 1950s kept an eye on the town, but now the mood had shifted with increasing social radicalism. Following a visit to Walgett, the Union representatives and the AAF members publicised the case and lobbied to return the children to their families. Sydney university students also became aware of Walgett. Meanwhile, Walgett Aborigines Progressive Association (APA) with Harry Hall as president, connected with Sydney activists.