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Kruger, Alec (1924–?)

This entry is from Indigenous Australia

PUBLICATION: Alec Kruger and Gerard Waterford, Alone on the soaks: The life and times of Alec Kruger, Institute for Aboriginal Development Press, 2007

NAME: Alec Kruger (Bumbolili)

SEX: Male

BIRTH DATE: 24th of December, 1924

BIRTH PLACE: Donkey Camp, the banks of the Katherine River.

FIRST LANGUAGE: English

SIGNIFICANT LOCALITIES:

  • Donkey Camp: A camp on the Springhill station owned by Frank Kruger, where Alec was born on the banks of the Katherine River. While living at Bungalow, Alec was given the nickname “Donkey Camp”. (p.1)
  • Darwin: Alec was taken to the Kahlin Compound in Darwin in 1928. He returned to live there after the second world war, at Parap Camp, which was “basically a collection of army surplus tents that housed a lot of the mixed descent Aboriginal families returning to Darwin after having spent the war down south”. (p.161)
  • In the 1950s, Alec worked at the municipal council in Darwin during the wet season. (p.199)
  • Pine Creek: Alec was sent to Pine Creek, a small town in the Katherine region, four years after he was taken from his parents. He describes it as a pleasant and harmonious community. (p.40)
  • Bungalow, Central Australia: Alec was sent to Bungalow when Pine Creek closed in 1933. (p.41)
  • Love’s Creek: The station owned by Alec’s first employer, Harry Bloomfield (p.74) Alec spent seven years living with the Eastern Arrernte at Love Creek, and was later involved in the Native Title claim to the area.
  • Alice Spring: Alec was stationed in Alice Springs while serving in the armed forces during the Second World War. (p.146) In the 1950s he returned to the area to work on the railroads, and was offered a house at The Gap settlement when he got married. (p.238)
  • Katherine: Alec lived with his family in Katherine briefly after leaving the Army. (p.151) He moved back to Katherine in the 1970s for two years, before deciding the return to his family in Alice Springs. (p.266)
  • Wave Hill, Wernadinga station, Creswell Downs, Alcoota Station: Stations in the Northern Territory, where Alec found work in the 1950s.

LESS SIGNIFICANT LOCALITIES:

  • Hawley: Alec was based in Hawley for six months while working on the railroads. (p.152)
  • Thursday Island: Alec made a trip to Thursday Island while working on a supply boat named the Fran. (p.172)
  • Mount Isa: Alec moved to Mount Isa to live with the Kings in the early 1950s. (p.214)
  • Brisbane: Alec was sent to Brisbane when he enlisted in the army for the second time. He was returned to the Northern Territory because he didn’t have appropriate identification. (p.217)
  • Melbourne: Nita and Alec made a trip to Melbourne to visit their eldest daughter Lyn, and her husband Brian, who was studying law. (p.312)
  • Canberra: In 1997, Alec went to the High Court in Canberra to testify that mixed-race children were systematically removed from their parents in the Northern Territory. (p.25)

INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL:

  • n/a

EXPERIENCE OF EDUCATION:

  • While living at Pine Creek, Alec went to a “normal white-fellow school.” (p.40) He was a very restless student, and the school was very lenient: allowing him to leave class and do activities outside. (p.41)
  • As a result, Alec didn’t learn to read or write at Pine Creek. (p.41) When he was sent to the Bungalow, this situation didn’t change: the classrooms were overcrowded, the teachers untrained, and the school supplies extremely limited. (p.55)
  • In 1933, a teacher from the local white school was instructed to oversee education at Bungalow. (p.58) In 1935, Alec had his first full-time teacher, Miss Randall. (p.58) She tried to teach him and the other children basic reading, writing and arithmetic. But the classes were still very large, and Alec spent most of the time outside as punishment for misbehaving. (p.58) He was still illiterate when he left school at the age of 10. (p.58)
  • Later in life, Alec began to appreciate the importance of education. He was taught basic literacy by a drover name Norman Prendergast, and then continued to educate himself. (p.41)

EXPERIENCE OF EMPLOYMENT:

  • Alex finished school at the age of ten. From then on, he joined the other Bungalow boys of working age in a line up for potential employers. Alec was proud to be picked by the Bloomfields from Love's Creek Station, and looked forward to a career as a stockman. (p.66)
  • Alec’s pride was quickly replaced by trepidation when he began the long journey, and finally arrived at Love's Creek. He was sent to work with a group of Aboriginal stockmen who were friendly, but didn’t speak English well. (p.72) They were also very busy, and no one had time to train the 10-year-old. (p.76)
  • Alec spent most of the first year fixing fences. (p.76) He was so lonely that he would have much preferred to return to Bungalow under the rule of Mr Freedman. (p.77) The nights were the hardest part of Alec’s new life. He would wake up well before dawn every morning, and lay awake for hours: feeling frightened, alone and cold. (p.77)
  • Alec’s loneliness was particularly acute when he had to look after the waterholes and soaks during dry spells. He was left alone in the bush with only rations of tea and flour. (p.96) Alec was expected to know how to keep a fire going and supplement his rations with hunting: but, having grown up in an institution, he had not acquired the skills of bush survival. (p.96)
  • The first time that Alec was left alone in the bush, his fire went out and he couldn’t relight it. He began to starve and become delusional. (p.97) Eventually, he was approached by a group of “wild Aboriginal”, and hid for fear they would kill him. (p.97) But they simply built him a fire and started cooking food for him. (p.98) Alec learnt that they were related to the Arrernte people at Love's Creek, and they formed a relationship and taught him bush skills. (p.99)
  • During the wet season, Alec and the other Aboriginal stockman worked to break in and castrate horses, brand cattle, and build fences. (pp.89-90) They mustered between May and August: during which time they lived on a diet of corned beef, tea and damper. (p.85)
  • Conditions at Love's Creek improved slightly as Alec became older and more experienced, and made friends with the Arrernte Aboriginals and adopted their attitude towards their employers. (p.100)
  • In the mid 1950s, Alec was moved to the Atnarpa outstation where Harry Bloomfield was establishing a new home. (p.103) He and Tim had to renovate the old tin shed, so that it was “fit for the expanding Bloomfield dynasty.” (p.104) His supervisor, Roy McFadyen (author of At a cost), was a very decent man, but Alec was again left feeling alienated. (pp.107-108)
  • When he was in his late teens, Alec worked up the courage to ask to be paid his wages. (p.101) He had been told that they were all put into a welfare-administered trust system, and he would be paid when he turned 18. (p.65) But when he inquired he discovered that the Bloomfields – who were cunning and exploitative people – had not established a fund. Alec was never paid for seven years of labour. (p.66)
  • Alec was outraged, and decided to run away from Love's Creek to enlist in the army. (p.101) He saw the army as a chance to earn equal wages and perform a respected role. (p.121) Alec was only 17 at the time, so he had to lie about his age. (p.124)
  • Alec was put in the Aboriginal unit of the army, which was made up of a group of boys of mixed-descent. (p.124) Compared to life in the institutions and at Love's Creek, life in the Army was exciting and comfortable: with company, proper clothing and equipment, ample food, wages and six bottles of beer a week. (p.125)
  • When Alec reconnected with his mother after sixteen years, she reprimanded him for joining the army (“murderers and cowards”). (p.4) Alec defended his career choice. (p.5)
  • By the time the war ended, Alec was tired of life in the army. (p.143) He was sick of living with a large group of competitive men, and doing boring work such as loading trucks. (p.143) Alec spent a few weeks in Alice after he was discharged, before moving to Katherine to be with his family. (p.148)
  • After an uncomfortable spell living with his family in Katherine, Alec took up a job working in a railway gang based at Hawley. (p.152) He found his employers pleasant and the food very good. (p.152)
  • Alec then got a job patrolling the highway for the Main Roads Department (p.153). He left to take up another position as a stockman for Fred Martin. (p.154) While droving for Fred, Alec was encouraged to supplement the herd with cattle stolen from neighbouring stations. (p.155)
  • Alec then moved to Darwin, lived at Parap Camp, and got odd jobs working on the wharves. (p.162)
  • He began searching for permanent work, and the only work available was on a pearl boat. (p.163) As such, Alec became an “accidental seaman”, and spent a few years working on a lugger called the ‘Vivian’. (p.163)
  • Alec made friends with the crew, and enjoyed the breaks when they were able to stop on beautiful islands. But the work on the Vivian was exhausting and dangerous, the food was bad, and they were only paid for a few months work a year. (pp.164-170)
  • After a few years on the Vivian, Alec got a job on a supply boat called the Fran, and made trips to Thursday Island in the Torres Strait. (p.172)
  • Alec was then recruited by Jack Sagagiel to join his stock team (p.175). Alec accepted Jack’s offer because the pay was good, and he was up for a “challenge and a change” (p.175). He embraced the opportunity to prove himself in a difficult industry (p.174).
  • Alec spent the next four months moving cattle from Mistake Creek on the Western Australian border to Queensland (p.175). It was his first long droving trip (p.186).  The cattle were particularly wild, and the stock team was not reliable (p.179).  On one occasion, when Alec was on night duty, the cattle stampeded across the campsite (p. 183).
  • After this trip, Alec became a more permanent member of the “droving community.” (p.187) He learnt to abide by drovers code of conduct, and to endure harsh conditions. (p.188)
  • Alec also engaged in the end of season binge drinking sessions: where he and others exchanged droving stories and drank copious amounts of rum and spirits until their funds ran out. (p.189) He claims that this “wasn’t such a bad life if you didn’t sober up too often.” (p.190)
  • After the end-of-season drinking, Alec got a job at Wave Hill. (p.194) He made friends with the Mudburra people who lived in the area, who were related to his mother and knew his father. (p.196)
  • Alec then worked two seasons for Mick Byrnes, moving cattle from Victoria River Downs to Wolgarra in Queensland. (p.197) After that he returned to Wernadinga station near Darwin, were he worked for Norman Prendergast, known as Splinter. (p.199) The wages were low, but Splinter promised to employ Alec the following year, and he taught him to read. (p.199)
  • During the wet season, Alec worked at the municipal council in Darwin. (p.199) He joined Splinter again the next droving season, but unfortunately the stations reneged on their offers of work because of a drought. (p.200)
  • Alec managed to find temporary work at Creswell Downs, and then got a permanent position at Alcoota Station. (p.201) The conditions and wages at Alcoota were much better that Alec’s previous work. (p.202) His roles were similar to the work he had done at Love’s Creek as a teenager, but they were made much easier by technical advances. (p.203)
  • While he was working at Alcoota, Baden Bloomfield tried to convince Alec to return to Love's Creek as head stockman. (p.204) Alec was tempted by the offer, but refused because he felt obliged to stick with his team at Alcoota. (p.204)
  • Alec then moved to Mount Isa and lived with Bill and Ruby King. (p.214) He loved the life in Mount Isa, but was forced to return to Wernadinga Station when his funds ran out. (p.216) Alec then got a job working on the railroads, before enlisting in the army again and being sent to Brisbane. (p.216) Alec was sent to Brisbane, but was sent away because he was unable to provide any proof of identity or age. (p.217)
  • Alec returned to the Northern Territory feeling humiliated. (p.217) He continued droving during the dry season, and working in Darwin during the wet. In retrospect, he was glad to have been rejected by the army, as his friends who enlisted were sent to fight in the Korean War. (p.217)
  • By 1953, it was becoming increasingly difficult to find droving jobs. (p.224) Alec also wanted to play football more, and enjoy “a bit of town life, with wine, women and song”; and was getting sick of struggling to find work in the dry season. (p.224)
  • Alec and some of his friends from Bungalow went to Alice Springs in search of work. (p.224) His first job was chopping firewood, and later he got a more permanent position working on the railroads with the Department of Works. (p.233) This position enabled Alec to apply for a house at The Gap Settlement when he married Nita. (p.238) However, it also meant that he had to spend a lot of time away from home. (p.248)
  • Alec was promoted to cook for the road team, which was a better-paid position. (p.248) The workers had high expectations of the cook, but he managed to live up to them. (p.249) Alec’s new earnings enabled him to buy a car, which he used to visit family in Darwin and Katherine. (p.250)
  • In the mid 1960s, Alec was transferred to the Department of Mines. (p.250) It was better paid than his work on the railroad, and he was able to spend most nights with his family. (p.250)
  • His role was crushing and assessing ore samples. Together with Ron Ferguson, he got his own mining license at Arltunga and Loves Creek. (p.250) Alec spent a lot of weekends prospecting in the area, which brought back many memories from his childhood. (p.250)
  • Western Nuclear began to support their prospecting, by covering the cost of petrol and camping. Unfortunately, Ron and Alec never found anything substantial, and Western Nuclear eventually lost interest. (p.250) Alec gave away his claim after Ron died. Years later, gold, diamonds and mineral sand were found in the area, but as Alec is not a traditional owner he has no stake in the claim. (p.251)
  • Alec became involved with the Labor Party in the late sixties. He often acted as a guide for union officials and politicians, and helped sign Aboriginal workers up to unions and enroll them to vote. (p.265)
  • At this time, Alec also decided to give up his job and move to Katherine to live near his extended family. (p.266) Through his brother George, Alec got a job working on the Australian Institute of Biology Experiment Farm. (p.286) He worked as a stockman for a research team that was assessing the potential of breeding Brahman Cattle in Northern Australia. (p.268)
  • Alec then got a job setting up houses and training programs at the Yulungu outstation service. (p.274) After two years working in and around Katherine, he decided to move back to Alice Springs, and got a job working for the Institute of Aboriginal Development. (p.278) He was employed to train Aboriginal stockmen at Ernabella, in the hope that they would be able to take over the running of stations after the mission closed. (p.278)
  • Alec hoped this training would give Aboriginal youths a better future, as many of them had taken to petrol sniffing. (p.278) But he also saw it as a somewhat futile project. (p.278)
  • After a few years working out at Ernabella, Alec got sick of travelling for work and looked for a job in Alice Springs. (p.282) He got a position as a bus driver and gardener at the Aboriginal alcohol rehabilitation centre, Congress farm. (p.286) Alec found the farm to be a lovely working environment, and introduced camping and hunting trips as part of the rehabilitation. (p.286) However, he had his doubts about the overall effectiveness of the program, as most of the patients left the facility immediately when they had enough money for a binge drinking session, and only returned when they became “grog sick” again.(p.286)
  • When he left Congress farm, Alec got a job developing equipment and training for remote communities with the Centre for Appropriate Technology. (p.296) It was a prestigious position, and he was given a flat at the back of the building, but it was not well paid. (p.296) He also did some “cross-cultural work” for a range of different organisations in the area. (p.297)
  • At this time, Alec became very involved in the Land Rights claim to Harry Creek, which was the ancestral land of his wife Nita. (p.303) When the claim was successful, he spent a lot of time at Harry Creek: camping, hunting, and setting up a small settlement. (p.303) Because he had no savings, Alec’s “retirement dream” was to set up a farm at Harry Creek. (p.305) He began planting trees and raising chickens and pigs, and received some tourists. (p.305)
  • Alec turned 65 in 1989, which was the official retirement age at the government-funded Centre for Appropriate Technology. (p.308) He received a Veteran’s pensions, which enabled him to live comfortably. (p. 310) It also enabled his wife Nita to retire from working in the laundry at the Hospital. (p.311)

EXPERIENCES OF RELIGION:

  • Alec and the other boys at Pine Creek went to Sunday mass and Sunday school every week. (p.40)
  • At Bungalow, the children were dubbed Anglican, Catholic or Methodist based on their records or personal choice. Alec was assigned to the Anglican Church. He attended church every week and served as an altar boy. (pp.63-64)
  • While living at Love's Creek, Alec was initiated into an Eastern Arrernte clan. He took part in the spiritual ceremonies, and became a “person of magic.” (p.143)
  • His romance with Eva, an Aboriginal missionary, reunited his interest in Christianity much later in life. (p.210)
  • While living at The Gap Settlement near Alice Springs, Alec and his wife Nita attended the Methodist Aborigines Inland Mission. (p.256) At this time Alec didn’t have a lot of interest in “church matters”, but he appreciated the support the Methodists provided his family. (p.256) The minister Mr Long ensured that everyone who attended the services had a big meal at Christmas, and organized activities for the children. (p.256)

IMPORTANT INSTITUTIONS:

  • Kahlin Compound, Darwin: an institution for Aboriginal children opened in 1913. Alec and many of his siblings were sent to Kahlin.(p.6)
  • Pine Creek Half-Caste Institution:
  • The Bungalow, half-cast Institution at the Alice Springs Telegraph Station
  • Native Affairs: Alec and Nita applied to Native Affairs for permission to marry. Initially, their request was declined, as Nita was considered to be too young. (p.233) However, after she fell pregnant Native Affairs changed their position. (p.233).  While living at The Gap, an Aboriginal settlement near Alice Spring, Alec came back under the control of Native Welfare Department: who routinely inspected their house. (p.246)
  • Returned Serviceman’s League (RSL): The volunteer ex-soldier at the RSL helped Alec to put in an application for the Veteran’s pension, which was very difficult because he didn’t have a birth certificate. (p.31)  The RSL also helped him get free medical treatment for his injuries. (p.311)
  • Stolen Generation Association: An organisation that was established after Alec and others went to High Court to testify that mixed-race children were systematically removed from their parents in the Northern Territory. (p.25) Alec was on the management committee, and he enjoyed the attention and support. (p.334)

SALIENT LAWS AND POLICIES:

  • Alec notes that the Northern Territory Aborigines Ordinance 1918 gave the Protector of Aborigines the authority to remove mixed-race children from their parents. (p.28) This enabled the Native Welfare Department to take him from his mother, and place him in the Kahlin Institution. (p.6)
  • When he enlisted in the army, Alec and the other mixed race soldiers became exempt from the Ordinance. (p.131) This meant that they were allowed to drink alcohol with the white soldiers. (p.131)
  • When the war ended, Alec lost these privileges. He decided not to apply for permanent exemption, because that would have involved disassociating himself from the Aboriginal community. (p.148)

PHYSICAL AND MENTAL HEALTH:

  • Alec suffered from significant trauma when he worked at Love's Creek from the age of ten to sixteen, and was left to fend for himself for months at a time. (p.96) These experiences had an ongoing effect on his mental health.
  • Alec points out that working as a stockman was a particularly risky profession. (p.205) On one occasion, while working at Alcoota, his horse crashed into a tree and he cracked his head open. (p.206) Alec was left lying unconscious in the paddock for hours before he was found. (p.206) He had to spend weeks in hospital, and received no worker’s compensation. (p.207)
  • Alec suffered a cartilage injury in the late 1950s, which prevented him from playing football. (p.1950s) By the 1960s he could hardly walk on his bad leg, and had an operation. (p.255)

RELATIONSHIP WITH PARENTS:

  • Yrambul Nugarai (Polly): Alec’s mother was born at Wave Hill Station in 1895. (p.4) She belonged to the Mudburra people, who gave her the tribal name of Yrambul. (p.6) Outside of their group, she was known by her European name Polly. (p.6)
  • When she was young, Polly began working at the station and had a relationship with the white stockman Jimmy Gibbs. (p.6) Alec describes Jimmy as a “decent fellow on all accounts”: but he is unsure if his mother was drawn to him out of desire or desperation. (p.6)
  • Polly gave birth to Jimmy’s daughter, named Ada Gibbs. Jimmy acknowledged Ada as his own, but – following common practice – he left Polly to bring her up alone. (p.6) Jimmy soon moved on to Elsey Station, and Polly stayed at Wave Hill.  (p.6)
  • Ada was soon taken from Polly, and placed in the Kahlin Compound in Darwin. (p.6)
  • Polly later married a Mudburra man, and had her second daughter Bobby. (p.7) Unlike her sibling, Bobby was not taken away from her mother because she was a “full blood”. (p.7)
  • Polly’s Mudburra husband later died, or was murdered, and she began a relationship with another white stockman: Alec’s father Frank Kruger. (p.7) They had four children together: Gladyse, Leslie, Johny and Alec. Polly gave birth to Alec – her sixth and last child – when she was just twenty-nine. (p.1-2)
  • In 1928, while Frank was away, Gladyse and Alec were taken away from their mother by the authorities. Polly reportedly followed the police all the way to Kahlin in Darwin in an attempt to reclaim her children. (p.27) Alec describes Polly as a small, strong-minded woman, who “knew how to be heard”: but her efforts to retrieve her children were futile. (p.4)
  • A few years after Gladyse and Alec were taken, Polly and Frank lost their two sons Leslie and Johnny in a flood. (p.34) In 1938, Frank died and Polly was forced off Donkey Camp and had to move to the mission at Rockhole. (p.142) Alec presumes that it was around this time that his mother converted to Christianity and became a devoted member of the Gospel Church. (p.54)
  • After sixteen years apart, George helped Alec to reconnect with his mother when he was in the army. (p.4) When they met, Polly expressed her strong reservation about his occupation: she was opposed to violence for religious reasons. (p.142)
  • Alec was somewhat taken aback by his mother’s attempted intervention, as he no longer felt in need of mothering. (pp. 5, 142) Their relationship was further strained by the fact that he had lost his local language and connections to the Mudburra people, and Polly’s English was not very good. (p.142)
  • After the War, Polly became an ordained minister. She worked to set up missions and to move Aboriginal people out of Katherine. (p.142)
  • When Polly died, Alec was thousands of kilometres away and unaware of her funeral. (p.5)
  • Frank Kruger: Alec’s father Frank was the son of a German immigrant, who disappeared when he was an infant, and an English station manager’s daughter from South Australia. (p.7) He came to the Northern Territory in the 1890s, and established a cattle station on a newly issued lease south of his uncle Tom’s property, Willeroo Station. (p.8) His herd was made up of “cleanskins” (unbranded cattle) and strays that he had stolen from nearby Victoria River Downs Station. (p.8)
  • With the rise of cattle prices prior to the First World War, the Northern Territory police and large station owners made an effort to curb cattle stealing. Rather than risk prosecution, Frank left Spring Hill and took a position as a manager on his Uncle Tom Pearce’s farm property, Willeroo Station. (p.9) He also raised Spanish donkeys and ran a carting business, and his property thus became known as “Donkey Camp”. (p.22)
  • Spring Hill was on Mudburra tribal land, and had the services of a number of Aboriginal stockmen, who lived in a camp by the river. (p.8) Alec presumes that this was where Frank met and began a relationship with his mother. (p.8)
  • Alec describes his father as a generous man, a good friend, and a great host: particularly at Christmas. (p.3) Frank liked children, and – unlike most of the white community in the Northern Territory – abstained from alcohol. (p.9) His relationship with Aboriginal people was “less exploitative than most”, and Alec attributes this in part to his religiosity and his socialist principles. (p.9)
  • Before meeting Polly, Frank had two children with two different Aboriginal women. Alec speculates that his father “liked his women strong and black.” (p.9) Unlike many white settlers at the time, Frank cared for his wives and children. He thus became known as “combo”: “a man who had ‘gone native’ and was seen by some to lack respectability.” (p.22)
  • Unlike his older half-brother George, Alec was separated from his father at a young age and taken to live in an institution in Darwin, and then Pine Creek near Katherine. On a few occasions, Frank and George visited Alec when he lived at Pine Creek on their way to buy supplies in Katherine. (p.34)
  • Bungalow was much further away from Spring Hill than Pine Creek, so Frank visited Alec only once while he was there. (p.64) Alec’s father promised to return and collect him when he had finished his schooling. (p.64) But, as Frank died in 1938 from an infected wound, this was their last meeting. (p.64)
  • George was the only member of Frank’s Aboriginal family that was allowed to attend his funeral. (p.139) After the funeral, the Government reclaimed the lease for Donkey Camp, and his distant white relatives reclaimed most of his possessions. (p.24)

RELATIONSHIP WITH SIBLINGS:

  • Bobby: Bobby was Polly’s first child. Unlike Polly’s other children, Bobby was able to stay with her mother because her father was a Mudburra man. (p.7) Alec didn’t get to know Bobby until the 1970s, when they were both involved in Aboriginal rights activism. (p.274)
  • Ada Gibbs: Ada was Polly’s first child with Jimmy Gibbs. She was removed by the authorities at a young age, and placed in the Kahlin Compound in Darwin. (p.6) By the time that Alec arrived at Kahlin, Ada was living outside the compound. (p.17) The first time he really got to know his sister was when he returned to Katherine after the war. (p.149) This was a difficult and emotional time for Alec. (p.149)
  • George Kruger: George was the son of Frank Kruger and an Aboriginal woman from Renner Springs, and he was about 20 years old than Alec (p.9) The Kahlin Institution was not yet built when George was young. Therefore, unlike his siblings, he stayed with his father at Springvale. (p.9)
  • George visited Alec at Pine Creek with Frank when he was nine. They didn’t meet again until Alec was in the army, and George was working on the railways. (p.138)
  • George became Alec’s good friend, and he stayed with him and his wife Lily when he returned from stock work. (p.157) George also introduced Alec to the rest of the family that he had lost when he was taken away. (p.272)
  • In 1947 George was diagnosed with leprosy and sent to the Channel Island Leprosarium. (p.158) Fortunately, he was successfully treated with penicillin and allowed to return to his family. (p.159)
  • In the 1970s, George became very involved in Aboriginal politics. (p.271)
  • Alice Kruger: Alice was the daughter of Frank Kruger and an Aboriginal woman from Mataranka. (p.10) She was sent away to Kahlin when Alec was an infant. (p.10) Alec didn’t have any contact with Alice when he was at Kahlin, because she was working for the Protector of the Aborigines. He got to know her properly only when they were adults living in Katherine. (p.10)
  •  Gladys Kruger: Gladys was the first daughter of Polly and Frank, born in 1921. (p.10) She was taken to Kahlin at the same time as Alec, but they had little contact while living there. (p.10) Gladys later moved to Darwin and married Johnny Ahmat, and they both became Alec’s good friends. (p.10)
  • John and Leslie Kruger: John and Leslie were Alec’s older brothers, sons of Polly and Frank. (p.10) Both sons drowned near Donkey Camp, in a flood that followed a cyclone. (p.10)

RELATIONSHIPS WITH PARTNERS:

  • When Alec joined the army as a 17-year-old he was still very naïve about women. (p.142) He was embarrassed by his lack of experience, and eager to find a partner. Unfortunately, the army was a “womenless world”. (p.143)
  • Alec had more encounters with women when he became a drover, but they weren’t particularly positive. He claims that women weren’t seen as “friends or partners the way a fellow drover often was”, but were considered sexual objects. (p.191)
  • Many drovers disregarded the classical rules regarding marriage in Aboriginal society, which precluded people from having relations with the wrong skin groups. (p.190) Alec claims that the stockmen would use food, alcohol and sometimes money to induce young women, often from “strict tribal communities”, to have sex with them. (p.190)
  • In some circumstances, when a stock team was approaching a community, the head drover would ride ahead and provide the skin names of the stockmen, so as to avoid inappropriate liaisons. (p.19) Alec claims that this was the “proper way” for having casual affairs. Nonetheless, these relations created their own problems, particularly if the woman fell pregnant. (p.190)
  • Eva Yarra: In his later 20s Alec had a relationship with an Aboriginal woman from Palm Island named Eva, who was working as a missionary at Phillip Creek Mission. (p.209) Alec describes Eva as very beautiful and scrupulous, and he claims he fell instantly in love with her. (p.209)
  • Eva returned to Palm Island, and Alec was unable to obtain permission to visit her. (p.211) They wrote to each other for a long time, before eventually conceding that they could never be together. (p.211) This was an upsetting prospect, because at this time Alec had a strong desire to settle down and start a family. (p.214)
  • When Alec moved to Mount Isa, he had a much more active social life than when he was a drover. (p.215) He went to lots of local dances, and was popular among the ladies. (p.215) 
  • During this time Alec started a relationship with Elma Fortune, who was the sister of his friend Billy. (p.215) Because of his popularity, Alec was not compelled to commit to Elma, and she eventually left him for someone more “loyal and settled.” (p.216)
  • When Alec moved to Alice Springs, he started a relationship with a woman named Daisy Hull. (p.129) They split up when he went to work at Alcoota Station, and by the time Alec returned to Alice Springs Daisy had started a new relationship. (p.229) Alec later learnt that Daisy had had his first child, Marilyn, who he met in the 1990s. (p.230)
  • Every Saturday in Alice Springs, Alec played football and then joined the other single men to watch the women’s hockey. One of the best players was a young woman named Nita Palmer, who was the sister of his friend Nugget’s wife Eva. (p.231) After hockey, Alec would walk Nita back to her house at The Gap Settlement. (p.232) Alec and Nita became very close, and eventually decided to get married. (p.233)
  • Alec and Nita applied to Native Affairs for permission to marry. Initially, their request was declined; because Nita was just 19 and Alec was 30. (p.233) Native Affairs changed their position after Nita fell pregnant, and they were married in 1955. (p.233)
  • Alec claims that at, at this time, men were relatively free to “bully” their wives and children. (p.239) But by nature, he was not inclined to boss Nita around, and the pair were “pretty good at playing happy families.” (p.238)
  • Alec and Nita got a house in The Gap Settlement, and he finally felt settled. (p.238) His wife took control of most of the affairs of the house, but he never disagreed with her decisions. (p.238)
  • In the 1970s, their relationship became strained when Alec became involved in Labor party politics. He spent less time with his family, and more time drinking with his political allies. (p.265)
  • At this time Alec decided to move to Katherine, while Nita stayed in Alice Springs. (p.266) Katherine was a “confusing time” for Alec: because he got a new girlfriend, but also tried to stay in contact with his family. (p.273) His new partner was unhappy with Alec’s frequent trips to Alice Springs. (p.273)
  • After two years in Katherine, Alec returned to Alice Springs and moved back with Nita. During their separation, Nita had learnt to live independently, and they had grown further apart: but they decided to make a “go of it” anyway. (p.275) They lived together until Nita got diabetes and died suddenly. (p.322)

RELATIONSHIP WITH CHILDREN:

  • Alec had his first daughter Marilyn with a woman named Daisy Hull, who he had a relationship with in Alice Springs. (p.129) Alec and Daisy split when he went to work at Alcoota Station, and he only learnt about Marilyn’s existence much later in life. Alec became friends with his eldest daughter in the 1990s. (p.230)
  • In 1956, Alec had his second daughter with his wife Nita, named Lynette. (p.238) Alec doted on Lynette: and while parenting had its drawbacks, it also had brought him and Nita a lot of benefits. (p.238)
  • After moving into a new home in The Gap Settlement, Alec and Nita had four more children: Larry, Wayne, Anita (Polly) and Noel. (p.248)
  • They also cared for the children of friends and family at different times. (p.251)
  • As well as taking in their relatives, Alec and Nita took in a lot of children and women from The Gap whose fathers were abusive alcoholics. (p.252)
  • Alec never physically disciplined his children: preferring instead to speak to them about their behavior. (p.252) This approach seems to have worked well, at least when the children were young. (p.252)
  • When Alec became involved in politics and decided to move to Katherine, all of his children stayed in Alice Springs with their mother, except for Larry. (p.266)
  • In Katherine, Alec was working full time and struggling as a single father looking after Larry. (p.268) During the school holidays, Noel and Anita also came to Katherine to live with their father, but they were homesick and missed their mother (p.269) When it was time for them to go back to Alice Springs, Larry choose to go with them. (p.269)
  • Alec eventually moved back to Alice Springs to be with his family. As they grew older, the children loved playing sports with their parents: but, they also started “getting bored and getting into trouble.” (p.290)
  • All of Alec’s children became successful in their own way. Lynette married Brian Willis, and they travelled to Melbourne together so that he could study law. (p.313) Melly left school at an early age and worked at the Institute for Aboriginal Development. (p.314) Wayne had children young, and he took custody of them after he and his wife separated. (p.314) Larry worked as a mechanic and a stockman around the Northern Territory. (p.315) He also worked on construction in Alice Springs, with his brother Dave. (p.315) Polly got a job working for the Aboriginal Cultural Awareness Program, and then as a Tenancy Officer for the Tangentyere Council. (p.316) Noel left school early and got a job as a stockman. (p.317) Later he worked in the gold mines, and then got a job as a Lecturer in Adult Education in Community Development and Leadership at the Institute of Aboriginal Development. (p.318)

IMPORTANT/INFLUENTIAL FIGURES:

  • Tom Pearce: Frank Kruger’s maternal great-uncle (Alec’s great uncle). When he was fifteen, Tom travelled to Katherine with a droving team, and “started the white side of (Alec’s) family’s adventure into the Northern Territory.” (p.11) Tom stayed in the Northern Territory and helped establish Springvale Station. (p.12)
  • Alec describes Tom as being part of the “first invading wave of white cattleman”. (p.18) Relative to the other pastoralists, local history suggests that Tom was a “decent man”, and there are no reported massacres at Springvale. (p.18)
  • Tom later ran the Maude Creek bottle shop, and then became a respected horseman and cattle breeder. He became the Treasurer of the Katherine Racing Club, a Justice of the Peace, and a regular contributor to the Northern Territory Times. (p.20)
  • Tom purchased Willeroo station after the local Aboriginals killed the former Manager. Unlike his predecessor, Tom gained the trust of the local Aboriginal elders. (p.21) He gave leadership roles to Aboriginal stockman, and they gained a reputation of being some of the best in the Northern Territory. (p.21) In 1917, Tom sold Willeroo for a very good price and moved to Sydney. (p.22) He returned to the Northern Territory when his wife died of influenza. (p.22)
  • Mr Freedman: The Manager of the boy’s dormitory at Bungalow. Mr Freedman was an authoritarian figure, which was unlike the leaders Alec had encountered at Pine Creek. (p.51) His punishments included belting the children; locking them in the cellar and making them balance on fence posts or stand in the cold for hours. (p.53)
  • Mr Freedam sometimes turned up at the dormitory drunk, and expelled all the children. Alec presumed that this was so that he could have his way with the young girls. (p.56) In 1934, one of the girls at Bungalow named Mr Freedman as the father of her child, and he was imprisoned. (p.56)
  • Bob Hamilton: Bob was a senior police officer, who replaced Mr Freedman as the temporary manager at Bungalow. (p.56) He was also inclined to use corporal punishment. (p.57)
  • Jock Jones: Jock Jones was the permanent replacement for Mr Freedman as Manager at Bungalow. He had previously worked as a drover and a police officer, and was friendly with Alec’s family. (p.57) His wife had also worked as a nurse at Pine Creek. (p.57)
  • Tim Shaw: Tim was the only other boy from Bungalow who was sent to work for the Bloomfields. They weren’t close at the Bungalow, as Tim was much older than Alec, but they were forced into a friendship at Love's Creek. (p.66) Tim had an easier time learning Arrernte and making friends in the community than Alec, and gradually spent more time in the Aboriginal camp than with him. (p.100)
  • Baden Bloomfield: The mixed-race son of Louis Bloomfield, who was Alec’s employer at Love's Creek. (p.72) Baden was in charge of the horse mustering, and he became on of Alec’s few friends. (p.89)
  • Long after Alec had left Love's Creek, Baden tried to persuade him to return to the station and work as head stockman. (p.204) Baden suggested that he marry his sister Agnes. (p.204) Alec refused the offer, because Agnes was of the wrong skin group, and he felt obliged to stay at Alcoota Station. (p.205)
  • Roy McFadyen: Roy was responsible for Tim and Alec when they were sent to renovate the Atnarpa outstation for Harry Bloomfield. (p.104) Alec describes Roy as an adventurous, generous man with a good sense of humour. (p.104)
  • Roy later resigned and moved to Alice Springs, complaining about the conditions and the poor treatment of the Aboriginal staff. He and Alec stayed in contact for years after. (p.104)
  • Peter and Maggie: An old Aboriginal couple who looked after Alec at Atnarpa station. (p.108)
  • Billy Goodall: Billy was a few years younger that Alec at Bungalow. (p. 131) After the war, he joined Alec in Katherine and they looked for work together. They worked together in a railway fettler gang, and then droving for Fred Martin. (p.151) When the season was over, Alec was sad to see Billy go because they had built up a “solid friendship.” (p.156)
  • Cammy Cleary: A “mixed descent fellow” from Lake Nash, who Alec worked with at Wave Hill Station. (p.194) Alec describes Cammy as a talented and modest horseman. (p.194)
  • Ron Ferguson: Ron was one of Alec’s colleagues at the Department of Mines. They became friends, and together they took out a mining licence at Love’s Creek and Arltunga. (p.250) With the support of Western Nuclear, Ron and Alec explored the area, but they never found anything substantial: and Alec sold the claim after Ron died. (p.251)
  • Harry and Louis Bloomfield: Louis and Harry were Alec’s first employer at Love's Creek. He describes them as mean-spirited and exploitative people, who were not competent station owners. (pp.81, 104)
  • Alec survived seven years at Love's Creek by following the Bloomfield’s every command. (p.99) When he was eighteen, Alec discovered that the Bloomfields had not been paying him wages into a trust, and so he ran away from Love's Creek to join the army. (p.66)
  • Bob Marcum: Alec’s boss while he worked for Main Roads department. (p.153). He was the owner of an unprofitable station; a friend of Alec’s brother George, and a “good boss.” (p.153)
  • Fred Martin: the owner of Florina Station, West of Katherine. Fred had a “colourful history as a poddy dodger and horse rustler” (a thief of others’ livestock). (p.154) He was known as the “Whispering Baritone”, because he always spoke in a hushed tone. (p.154)
  • Jack Sagadiel: Jack was an Aboriginal man in his fifties, who recruited Alec to join his stock team to move cattle from the Northern Territory border to Queensland. (p.175) Alec describes Jack as a good boss, and he was saddened to hear that he had fallen off a truck and died not long after the trip. (p.186)
  • Mick Byrnes: Alec got a job working for Mick when he left Wave Hill. (p.197) He was a heavy drinker, but a competent drover, who “always kept his team together.” (p.197)
  • Norman Prendergast (Splinter): Splinter was a white drover who Alec met in a bar in Winton. (p.199) He had a reputation as being good company and having a “nice attitude”, and so Alec joined his stockteam. (p.199) Splinter was shocked to learn that Alec couldn’t read, and so taught him when they had spare time at the stock camps. (p.200)
  • Alec was sad to say goodbye at the end of the season, and glad to see Splinter again the next season. Unfortunately, Splinter was not able to offer Alec work the next year because there was a drought. (p.201) Soon after, Alec was saddened to hear that Splinter had died in a polio epidemic. (p.201)

PREOCCUPATIONS:

  • Colonial History
  • Alec describes the colonization of the Northern Territory by European pastoralists. He notes that his grandparents were the last generation to live freely on their ancestral land. After that, pastoralists forcibly took control of Aboriginal people’s property and labour. (p.5)
  • Alec describes the pastoralists as “hard, suspicious men in a foreign culture”. (p.18) Alec’s great-uncle Tom was part of this “first invading wave”, but at Springvale Station there was no reported incidence of colonial violence. (p.16) This was unlike the area owned by his mother’s relatives, the Mudburra people, where there were a number of massacres in the 1860s to 1890s. (p.16)
  • Having been dispossessed of their land, Alec claims that Aboriginal men were forced to sell their wives and daughters to white pastoralists as “sex objects”. (p.17) Meanwhile, a white man who entered a committed relationship with an Aboriginal woman risked being prosecuted or ostracized. (p.17)
  • In the 20th century, the arbitrary violence of the pastoralists was slowly replaced by the coercive control of the state. (p.28) Alec notes that the Northern Territory Aboriginals Ordinance of 1918 not only gave the Protector of the Aborigines the right to remove children:
  • Alec points out that this policy was driven by the same racist logic and colonial violence: that Aboriginal people were “less than human.” (p.28)
  • Mudburra and Arrernte traditions:
  • Alec’s mother was from the Mudburra people. He describes the main features of Mudburra society prior to European invasion: they lived in close-knit family groups on territory with fixed boundaries, around the Camfield River. (p.17)
  • Alec did not learn about Mudburra traditions from experience, as he was taken away from his family as a toddler. It was only when he worked at Wave Hill as an adult that he came into contact with his mother’s people. They told him stories about his mother and father, and wanted to teach him their language: but ultimately Alec felt the cultural chasm was too deep. (p.195)
  • As a young teenager living at the Atnarpa outstation, Alec was adopted by an Arrernte couple called Peter and Maggie and became an initiated member of their clan. (p.110) His initiation included weeks of travelling, fending off boomerangs thrown by his adopted kin, and “other more painful rituals of magic and dance” (p.116) After this, he was able to go hunting with the Arrernte men, have sexual relations with women of the right skin group, and claim a wife. (p.116)
  • Alec participated in the ceremonial gatherings of the Arrernte people at Urimbula in the 1950s. By this time he claims their culture “was badly bleeding and couldn’t recover.” (p.110) By the time Alec returned from the army, these ceremonies had ended, as most of the older generation had died. (p.111) He also noted that Arrernte men were no longer following the traditional marriage system. Many were driven by “alcohol and love sickness” to form relationships with women of the wrong skin group. (p.113)
  • Alec saw this decline of traditional culture as part of the problems that have arisen in contemporary Aboriginal communities. (p.112)
  • Alec also views any attempts to revive traditional culture as futile. (p.110) Personally, he made no effort to try to maintain Arrernte practices: but he does sometimes feel like he’s “failed the old men and their Eastern Arrernte dreaming stories.” (p.249)
  • Child Removal
  • In the first half of the 21st century, it was common practice in the Northern Territories for the authorities to remove mixed-race children from their Aboriginal mothers. Alec recalls the ongoing effects of child removal on him and his family.
  • His eldest sister Ada, whose father was the white stockman Jimmy Gibbs, was the first of his mother’s children to be taken away. (p.6) Polly was only able to keep her second child, Bobby, because her father was a Mudburra man. (p.7)
  • As well as having different policies for children of different racial origin, the authorities also distinguished by gender. (p.9)
  • Alec and his sister Gladyse were taken away from their mother when they were just infants, because they were the children of the white stockman Frank Kruger (p.26). He does not remember being removed, but learnt later in life that the police visited Donkey Camp while Frank and the other men were away working, and snatched them from his unsuspecting mother (p.26).
  • Polly was apparently outraged and followed the police officers all the way to the Kahlin Institution in Darwin, trying to retrieve her children. She protested at the fence of the Institution, but the authorities ignored her pleas. (p.27)
  • Alec lived at three different institutions before being sent to work as a young teenager: Kahlin, Pine Creek and Bungalow. While the conditions and staff at these institutions ranged from pleasant to unbearable, the feeling of isolation was common throughout his childhood. Alec attributes his survival to the lifelong friendship he formed with the other boys.
  • Alec’s father visited him a few times at Pine Creek and Bungalow before he died. However, on the whole, Alec was oblivious to his family connections. It was only when his older brother George made contact with him during the War that he learned the whereabouts of his mother and sisters. (p.141)
  • Alec was reintroduced to his mother during the war. By this time, their relationship was strained because did not share a native language or common culture. (p.150) After the war, Alec moved to Katherine and spent time with his sisters: but again, he felt like a stranger to them. (p.149)
  • Alec felt uncomfortable living with a family he hardly knew, and began looking for work elsewhere. He was glad to leave Katherine when a position came up as part of a railway gang. (p.151)
  • After meeting his family and learning of the circumstances of his removal, Alec searched the government archives to see what justifications were provided. He was dismayed to find his name was not listed on any of the official records. (p.26)
  • In 1997, Alec went to the High Court to testify that mixed-race children were systematically removed from their parents in the Northern Territory. (p.25) While some people saw the hearing as a victory, Alec felt that he and the other people who were removed as children should have received compensation for their suffering. (p.25) He is also angered by the lack of information available to persons like him, who were taken from their family. (p.17)
  • Alec was glad that they established a Stolen Generation Association in Alice Springs in the wake of the High Court decision. (p.334) He was on the management committee, and he enjoyed the attention and support that he and the organisation received. (p.334) Alec also enjoyed travelling to schools to talk about his experience, and participating in “healing ceremonies” such as the one held at the Indigenous Yipirinya Festival in Alice Springs. (p.335)
  • Institutionalisation:
  • Alex describes his experience in various institutions established for children of mixed descent in the Northern Territory. In 1928 he was placed in the care of the Kahlin Institution.(p.30). In Alec’s account, the Kahlin institution was overcrowded, the children were malnourished, and the matrons were harsh and violent. (pp.30-33) There were Aboriginal families living in camps surrounding the Institution, but the children were prevented from interacting with them. (p.29) If an Aboriginal mother from the camp tried to take her child from the compound, she could be denied rations or even sent to prison. (p.30)
  • Alec was taken to Pine Creek after just four years at Kahlin. His sisters – Gladyse, Ada and Alice – all stayed on at Kahlin. When they were married, all three lived with their husbands in the surrounding settlement. Alec believes that this was because Kahlin provided jobs and food security, rather than because they were attached to the institution. (p.29)
  • When Alec was transferred to Pine Creek, none of his family were consulted or even informed. (p.34) He doesn’t remember the move, but he presumes it must have been traumatic, as he was leaving behind any family he had left. (p.35) But, in terms of living conditions, Pine Creek was a great improvement on Kahlin. (p.35) While the food supply was still limited, the staff were not punitive, and the children were given more freedom. (p.36)
  • Pine Creek was a boys-only institution, and Alec made many lifelong friends there. (p.36) He also had visits from his father, as it was close to Katherine. (p.38)
  • Pine Creek was closed in 1933, apparently because white women in the community complained to the authorities that the children were running wild and “lowering the tone of the community.” (p.41) Alec and 33 other boys were sent to Bungalow in Central Australia in the baggage compartment of the train. (p.42) He was very sad to say goodbye to Pine Creek, and to move to a new institution which was further away from his family (p.41)
  • Alec was taken to live in a large tin with 140 other boys at Bungalow. (p.50) Central Australia was very cold compared to the Top End, and the Pine Creek boys were not prepared. (p.45) They also weren’t accustomed to routine and strong discipline, which were both a feature of life at Bungalow. (p.51)
  • The food at Bungalow was of very poor quality, and strictly rationed. (p.53) Some of the parents who lived in the area brought their children food they had hunted, but as Alec had no relative he was forced to scrounge: killing birds and fighting the other boys for edible plants. (p.53)
  • The Pine Creek boys stayed together at Bungalow. The Manager Mr Freedman was a brutal man, who was eventually imprisoned for having sexual relations with the girls in his care. (p.56)
  • Conditions at Bungalow improved greatly under the new manager Jock Jones. (p.57) The boys were allowed more freedom to explore the countryside, chase donkeys, and play sports like hockey, marbles and boxing. (pp.60-62) They were also taken to see films occasionally. (p.62) Alec left the Bungalow to start work at the age of ten.
  • Political and Social Change
  • Alec describes the changes in white Australian’s attitudes towards Aboriginal people that occurred during his lifetime. He claims that the first shift occurred in the wake of World War Two, as Aboriginal people had more of a presence and voice in politics. The housing conditions began to improve, and mixed-race Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory started to join unions and political parties. (p.172)
  • While the Aboriginal people had an increasing number of supporters, Alec claims there were large groups of people in the Northern Territory – particularly in Katherine – who opposed them at every stage.
  • Despite this opposition, citizenship rights where extended to Aboriginal people in the 1960s and 1970s. (p.264) Alec and many others in the “mixed descent mob” became very involved in Labor party politics at this time. (p.172) He often acted as a guide for union officials and politicians, and helped sign Aboriginal workers up to unions and enrolled them to vote. (p.265)
  • Alec claims that the emergence of Aboriginal racial and cultural pride also caused some concerns amongst those of mixed-descent, who had benefited the most under the previous system.
  • During the 1980s, the Country Liberal Party came into power in the Northern Territory. Alec claims that they stalled Aboriginal development, by redirecting funding meant for remote communities towards white schools in Darwin. (p.284)
  • Alec also describes the unintended problems that occurred when Aboriginal stock workers won equal wages. Rather than paying Aboriginal workers an appropriate wage, most of the station owners made them redundant and sent them to live in town camps. (p.262) Alec claims that many of these people – who had rarely been to a town before – took to drinking as a “way of filling the hours.” (p.263) Problems with alcohol created divisions in the family and perpetuated unemployment. This was compounded by the fact that people could now substitute their meager income with welfare benefits. (p.295) Alec claims that this led to a loss of motivation, which was then passed on to the next generation of Aboriginal children. (p.295)
  • Land Rights:
  • Alec gives an account of his involvement in a number of Land Rights claims, and his impression of the effects of these campaigns on the Aboriginal community.
  • Alec was heavily involved the claim to Harry Creek, which was the traditional land of his wife Nita. (p.304) While the claim was being processed, he began spending a lot of time in the area: setting up an outstation and hunting with his family. (p.304) The claim was eventually settled in the favour of Nita’s family.
  • Alec was less successfully involved in the Love's Creek claim. (p.323) Although he was not a descendent of the Arrernte people, he felt entitled to make a land claim at Love's Creek because he had spent his teenage years there and had been initiated into the clan. He was also “spoiling for a fight”, and wanted to establish a property near Atnarpa so that his children and grandchildren would have an ongoing relationship with the areas. (p.117)
  • While many of the older Arrernte people supported Alec’s claim, many of the younger Arrernte people complained that he was not a biological member of the clan. Alec resented these young people, because he knew more Arrernte songs, sacred sites and dreaming stories than they. (p.110)
  • Ultimately, the Arrernte community rejected Alec’s claim, which was a deeply disturbing experience for him.
  • Alec was also excluded from claiming his mother’s ancestral land, because the Mudburra people felt he had been away too long. (p.33) He was more accepting of this decision, because he had never learnt Mudburra “tribal songs, ceremonies and stories.” (p.328) Nonetheless, Alec was still hurt by the rejection. (p.329) When he went to a reunion at Bungalow, he realized that many mixed-race children who had been taken away shared his feeling. (p.332)
  • Alec expresses disappointment at the outcome of Land Rights. (p.111)

MODE OF LITERARY PRODUCTION: Alone on the Soaks is based on over fours years of interviews that Gerard Waterford conducted with Alec Kruger. Gerard encouraged Alec to articulate his emotional responses to historical and personal events, and then attempted to place his stories in chronological order. He also solicited information from Alec’s friend and families.

  • In the introduction, Gerard states that Alone on the Soaks has an explicit political agenda: to provide an historical explanation for the parlous conditions in contemporary Aboriginal communities.
    “Some politicians might blame corruption. They might blame the Aboriginal community itself. But the real reasons are found in the long history of oppressive government practice and abusive individuals.”

Original Publication

  • Alone on the soaks: The life and times of Alec Kruger, 2007

Additional Resources

Source Project

This biographical entry was contributed by Australian Indigenous Autobiography Archive

Citation details

'Kruger, Alec (1924–?)', Indigenous Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://labouraustralia.anu.edu.au/biography/kruger-alec-17801/text29380, accessed 21 November 2017.

© Copyright Labour Australia, 2012