Freedom Rides Austrlia


Freedom Rides

12 February 1965 - 26 February 1965

Freedom Rides are start from the Student Action For Aborigines Organisation(SAFA) in A University of Sydney and their planning of a fact-finding to western New South Wales towns. The Ride included a survey of Aboriginal living conditions, a direct challenge to a ban against Aboriginal ex-servicemen at the Walgett Returned Services League, and a demonstration against local laws barring Aboriginal children from the Moree and Kempsey swimming pools.

Ride to Sydney

12 February 1965

Home of Eora people.
“Well, we hired the bus. We placed a banner along the front and prepared to start off from Sydney. The Rev. Ted said a prayer on the steps for those who like that sort of thing. I was one, I needed that kind of help.” Charles Perkins.

Ride to Gulargambone

14 Feb 1965

Home of the Wayilwan people
“Heard some radio publicity about us… Only certain aborigines allowed in pub, and aborigines not served in the cafe (the only one)… town jobs for aborigines impossible to get, shearing jobs pay well but are uncertain and seasonal." Ann Curthoys' diary.

Ride to Walgett

15 Feb 1965

On the border between the homes of the Wayilwan and Gamilaraay people.
Conditions very bad - had to use filthy water, tin shacks with mud floors, overcrowded.” Ann Curthoys' diary
Darce Cassidy recorded the conversation and filed a report to the ABC. It was the vice-president of the Walgett Returned Service League Club who said he would never allow an Aboriginal to become a member. Such evidence was beamed into the evening news. It exposed an endemic racism. This helped the city viewers adding more pressure on the government.

Ride to Moree

16 February 1965

Home of the Gamilaraay people.
“The mission had much better housing etc. than we'd seen anywhere, but there was a manager in control who was apparently very disliked and seemed rather unpleasant.” Ann Curthoys' diary

Ride to Boggabilla

17 February 1965

On the border between the homes of the Bigambul and Gamilaraay people.
“We heard some terrible stories such as the fact that the police came in the houses without knocking whenever they liked, to find out who had been drinking. Also they "did what they liked with the women".” Ann Curthoys' diary

Ride back to Moree

Feb 19 1965 - Feb 20 1965

“When we got down to the pool I said, ‘I want a ticket for myself and these ten Aboriginal kids behind me. Here’s the money.’ ‘Sorry, darkies not allowed in,’ replied the baths manager. The manager was a real tough looking bloke too. He frightened me. We decided to block up the gate: ‘Nobody gets through unless we get through with all the Aboriginal kids!’ And the crowd came, hundreds of them. They were pressing about twenty deep around the gate.'” Charles Perkins
“The mob from the hotel across the road decided that they were going to show these university students and niggers and black so-and-so’s whose town this was. They came over and did most of the kicking, throwing and punching, and the spitting.” Charles Perkins
“Then - breakthrough! The mayor came up to us and stated categorically that he would be prepared to sign a motion to rescind the 1955 statute we were protesting against, and would get two other aldermen to co-sign it.” Ann Curthoys' diary
“We got first place in the 11 o'clock news.” Ann Curthoys' diary

Ride to Grafton

21 Feb 1965

On the border between the Bundjalung and Gumbaynggir people.
“We heard a tape prepared by a Mr Miles, from the ABC. It described the conditions of aborigines on the far north coast, really exposed the complexities of the problem and suggested concrete solutions. it was too hard-hitting for the ABC.” Ann Curthoys' diary

Ride to Kempsey

24 Feb 1965

“The general picture in Kempsey re discrimination was that everything was fair (a cafe here and a pub there excepted), but the segregation of the swimming pool was the most outstanding thing.” “We took about 10-15 kids with us to the swimming pool. They weren't allowed in and neither were Charlie or Gary. Absolutely blatant.” Ann Curthoys' diary from the Freedom Rides