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Broome Creole: Aboriginal and Asian Partnerships along the Kimberley Coast

  • Sarah Yu


Romantic Broome — the pearling centre of the North West … the locale of exciting novels! White-sailed luggers skimming across azure seas in the early dawn. Colowful Asiatics jostling in Sheba Lane — the famous street 0’ Pearls. And languorous tropical nights beneath the glittering southern Cross.



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1 Gore, Stuart, Overlanding with Annabel, Angus and Robertson, 1956, p. 78.

2 Blackbirding was a practice in which pearlers or pastoralists would capture Aboriginal men and women to work on the boats as divers. There was much abuse of Aboriginal divers, in particular of the women.

3 Interview with Doris Mathews, Broome, September, 1992.

4 Dept of the North West, in-letter 376/45, 1949, Battye Library.

5 Edwards, Hugh, Port of Pearls, Adelaide, Rigby 1983; Mary Albertus Bain, Full Fathom Five, Perth, Artlook Books 1982; Ion Idriess, Forty Fathoms Deep, Sydney, Angus and Robertson 1942.

6 Interview with Edna Hopiga, Broome, May 1999.

7 Isdell, J. to Henry Prinsep, Chief Protector (hereafter CPA), 18.10.07, Aborigines Department, ACC255 746/07, Battye Library.

8 Felde, John Zum (manager of Anna Plains station) to CPA, 1902, Aborigines Dept, ACC255 537/02, Battye Library.

9 Isdell to CPA, Aborigines Dept, ACC255 730/07, Battye Library.

10 Olivey, G.S., Travelling Inspector to CPA, 6.6.1903, Aborigines Dept, ACC255, 10/03, Battye Library.

11 Isdell to CPA, 18.10.07, Aborigines Dept, ACC255, 746/07, Battye Library.

12 Ibid.

13 Tuckett, F. Ww. (Manger of La Grange ration depot) to CPA, Report for the year 1900, Aborigines Dept ACC255 103/00, Battye Library.

14 Jebb, Mary Anne, “Isolating the Problem: The Lock Hospitals Experiment 1908 – 1930”, Honours thesis, Murdoch University, 1987.

15 Ibid.

16 Diana Plater and Ollie Smith, “Emotionally Involved: Ollie and Diana's Story” unpublished manuscript, 1999, Ch. 9, p. 1.

17 Middleton's memo to his minister, January, 1951, in Ollie Smith's personal file, Dept. Native Affairs 376/45.

18 Plater and Smith, ch. 9, p. 3.

19 Plater and Smith, ch. 9, p. 2.

20 Ollie Smith's personal file, Dep. Native Affairs 376/45.

21 Interview with Betty Smith (Rita's sister), Broome 1997.

22 Police Department file 4970/35, 1951, in Ollie Smith's personal file, Dept. Native Affairs 376/45.

23 Dora Smith's personal file, Dept. Native Affairs 1050/47.

24 Ollie in Plater & Smith, p. 6. [Binghi, a once popular colloquialism for Aborigines, shares its meaning of “elder brother” in the Awabakal language of NSW (bingay) with the Indonesian abang, colloquially bung Ed.]

25 Ollie in Plater & Smith, pp 78.

26 Plater & Smith, ch. 9, p. 15.

27 The “Hill” refers to Kennedy Hill which rises above Chinatown. An Aboriginal reserve was established in the 1950s, to keep the town Aborigines out of sight of the general community. It is now prime real estate.

28 Interview with Philip Dolby, Broome 1999.

29 Ibid.

30 Ibid.

31 Ibid.

32 Olivey to CPA, 6.6.1903, Aborigines Department, ACC255 10/03, Battye Library.

33 Interview with Mohammed Sabri Hamid, Broome, May 1999.

34 Interview with Pearl Hamaguchi, Broome, July 1997.

Broome Creole: Aboriginal and Asian Partnerships along the Kimberley Coast

  • Sarah Yu


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