In 1949, Banjo Morton and a small handful of Aboriginal stockmen walked off from the vast Lake Nash cattle station, demanding pay in wages instead of rations. While the walk-off was only short lived, their success was etched into history. It’s a part of history that has remained relatively unknown beyond the stories told by Banjo and the others but it was recorded forever in the 1949 Lake Nash Police Journal by Police Constable Jack Mahony. This documentary follows the journey of, Richard Downs - Banjo's nephew and Richard's daughter Karen Downs, as they makes the journey back to Banjo’s remote community of Ampilatwatja to find out more about the walk off. They also visit the archives in Alice Springs to see the original documentation by Constable Mahony that documented the 1949 Walk Off and make a visit to the Lake Nash Cattle Station where it all happened back in 1949.
Karen was not bought up in Banjo’s community of Ampilatwatja but spent her years growing up in Alice Springs and most recently in Perth. Karen’s father Richard also spent his younger days as a stockman and has worked around Australia. Richard tells his story of having to hide from the orange welfare trucks that would drive into the bush looking for half-caste children. Richard, who was raised by both his own Aboriginal family and the Hall family, has been successfully negotiating both the traditional Alyawarre way of life and the modern white way of life since he was a young child. Richard first bought Karen out to meet her family at Ampilatwatja when she was a young teenager where the women spoke to her in traditional language and they also used sign language.
This is more than just the story of Banjo’s walk-off in 1949. It’s a story about uncovering the past and trying to discover what place the past has in the present. It's also a story about families and connections.
The documentary will highlight various issues about Indigenous Australia and it hopes to do that in a way that is fresh and unique. "Banjo" is a documentary that aims to create a better understanding of Indigenous issues, culture and way of life in Australia.
Aims & Objectives
Outcomes hoped for are: Distribution to as wide as possible a viewing audience including television in Australia and overseas, DVD, film festivals and private screenings. Impact will be measured by quantifying the of distribution platforms secured and audience numbers reached.
A blog will be created and promoted which will follow the production of the documentary so that audiences can be drawn to the project in the early days, even before its release.
Distribution will include schools and universities to assist in the educational outreach component as well as screenings for NAIDOC week and other Indigenous events.