A Brief History

Harry and John Watson were both born on Mount Anderson Station and have lived and worked there most of their lives.

Back in 1885 the pastoralists started farming sheep in the Kimberley and they needed labour so they rounded up the aboriginal people from the Nyikina and Mangala tribes and put them to work on the stations.  The pay was 3 meals a day, a long pair of trousers, a long sleeve shirt and one pair of boots, per year.   If you lost your boots you would go bare foot.  Once a year they were allowed to go back to their home land to see the rest of their families, if they did not return the police would come and collect them.  They lived and worked on the station from sun up till sun down 6 days a week under the same conditions for many years. Then, in 1967 Australia had a referendum which gave aboriginal people equal rights which included equal pay.  With this the station masters gathered all the aboriginal people up and told them that they could not afford to pay them any money and that they were all sacked.  They were told “go into town and the government will give you some money and a place to live.”

This was a very crucial time as a lot of them now had money in their pockets and were allowed to legally drink.  Many turned to alcohol, but lucky for the community of Jarlmadangah, Harry and John could see what was happening to their people.  They decided to go back to their homeland to get jobs and were employed back at the Mount Anderson.

In 1987 they decided they wanted a community of their own so they started building Jarlmadangah Burru. They have come along way from the days of being forced off the native lands and into work on the sheep station, they now have a very respected community with the Nyikina Mangala Community School, a Women’s Centre, a Medical Clinic, Cultural Centre and a Internet Telecentre.  The community also has its own workshop, machinery, sports oval, amphitheater and owns Mount Anderson Station and Kimberley Dreamtime Adventure Tours.

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