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Outback life is cheap.

March 28, 2016

Nurse Gayle Woodford’s murder highlights the uneasy reputation that the Northern Territory suffers.

Stories abound of fatal violence, as I have found on my infrequent visits to the Red Centre. Sadly, but not unexpectedly, an overwhelming majority of instances involve the original in habitants.

As a dedicated admirer of the Hermannsburg school  of indigenous landscape art I have headed north on a number of occasions.  The most recent, and admittedly it was some time ago, coincided with the stabbing murder in his home of a well-known artist ( whose name I won’t give  out of respect for Aboriginal reasons). It was one of two murders that weekend, but when I sought information from the local newspaper editor I was scornfully  told that the incidents were not considered newsworthy as “only” involving Aboriginals.

On the previous visit, while returning on foot from  a café on  the outskirts of town, the night silence  was pierced by the screams of a young Aboriginal woman being violently attacked by two locals. To my dismay, and shame, I followed my companion’s  advice.   “Walk away as quickly as possible”.

Returning to the latest incident of Red Centre violence, an Outback nurse friend of a friend was alone in  a remote station some years ago when an Aboriginal man staggered into her house covered in gaping wounds inflicted as “payback”.  Several weeks, having seen to his recovery, she was confronted by one of his attackers… intent on killing her for having interfered with tribal retribution. She managed to reach her car and fled. Eventually to desert her home and relocate in Perth.



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