Refuge on the Roper: Origins of Roper River Mission, Ngukurr
Why would the Church Missionary Society in far away Victoria decide in 1906 to establish a mission to Aborigines in a tropical North Australian location where malaria, tuberculosis and leprosy were common, and the only available transport an occasional boat...
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Why would the Church Missionary Society in far away Victoria decide in 1906 to establish a mission to Aborigines in a tropical North Australian location where malaria, tuberculosis and leprosy were common, and the only available transport an occasional boat or horseback? This question so intrigued Murray Seiffert that he sought answers from the contemporary records. In this centenary year of 2008, the formation of the Roper River Mission (Ngukurr), a review of the early years of the mission, begun by three white men from the south and three Indigenous missionaries from Queensland, is timely.
Murray Seiffert's passion as a writer arises from his strong commitment to national reconciliation; also that before this can happen, non-Indigenous Australians must improve their understanding of the history and lives of Indigenous people.His training and experience as a scholar naturally lead him to a strong commitment to careful research, reported in straight-forward language. He is a fan of Karl Popper who wrote: Anyone who cannot speak [or write] simply and clearly should say nothing and continue to work until he can do so.He decided to write Gumbuli of Ngukurr: Aboriginal Elder in Arnhem Land when he realised the scarcity of material about Aboriginal people whose lives spanned the early days of European influence and who remained living in remote Australia. 'Gumbuli of Ngukurr' won the 2012 Australian Christian Book of the Year Award; it was also short-listed for the 2012 Chief Minister's Northern Territory History Book of the Year Award for 2012. Murray grew up in rural Victoria before taking degrees in agricultural science and education on the way to becoming a high school teacher. After many years at the University of Melbourne, Murray served as Academic Dean at Darwin's Nungalinya College from 2001-2006 and spending time in Arnhem Land. He found living on the college campus with Indigenous leaders from many parts of Australia was both a privilege and a learning experience. Murray used his skills as a social scientist to gather information for Gumbuli of Ngukurr. He soon realised that Gumbuli was a community leader at Ngukurr during the dramatic changes of the 1960s and 1970s. Discovering that very little had been published about those changes, he undertook extensive archival research in Darwin, Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne.
- Foreword; Acknowledgements; Notes To Assist Readers; List Of Abbreviations; List Of Photographs; Map 1; Map 2; Introduction; 1. Ngukurr - Melbourne - London; 2. 'the Aborigines Regard The Land As Theirs'; 3. A Cry Goes Out!; 4. Explaining The New Mission; 5. Preparing For The New Mission; 6. Christianizing, Civilizing And ...; 7. History Repeats Itself: A Sanctuary Is Established; 8. The New Mission; Photograph Acknowledgements; Further Reading; Notes; Sources Of Archival Material; Bibliography; Index.