LtoR Alice Briston, Netta Cahill and Jessie Waters


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1941, all white women and children are evacuated from Darwin. Japanese invasion is imminent. On Croker Island in the Arafura Sea, Methodist missionaries are responsible for 95 Aboriginal. How could they abandon these children, the government has placed in their care?

February 1942, Darwin bombed; the missionaries will have to move the children off the island themselves. And so they begin their perilous journey.

After borrowing some fuel they are able to sail to Barclay Point and then walk to their first destination is Oenpelli Mission. This is a trek over miles of open savannah and the harsh beautiful stone country of Arnhem Land. After many days, they meet up with the trucks. But arriving in Pine Creek they find an American army base, no beds just the Butcher’s Paddock. They are forced to stay here until they can board a cattle train en route to their final destination, a Farm in Otford on the outskirts of Sydney.

In 44 days these brave women and their young charges journey across the continent, a truly heroic and untold journey.
But this is also an epic story of human endurance, strength and resilience. After the war, Margaret returned to Croker Island with 69 children and stayed on the mission until 1965 when she returned to Sydney to look after her parents.

The ‘children’ Alice, Netta and Jessie, are in their 80s but their friendships forged on Croker remain strong and feisty. These Aboriginal women still call Margaret, nearly 100 years, ‘sister’. It is their shared stories of love, humour and compassion that are central to this film.

Map and Timeline

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