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18 April 1951 Daisy Bates

 18 April 1951   Daisy Bates

On 18 April 1951 Daisy Bates died, aged 91, at a Prospect nursing home. She was born in Ireland in 1860 and came to Australia in the 1880s because of a weak chest. After ten years she returned to London where she worked as a journalist. 

Later she came back to Perth and from there travelled 1200 miles to Port Hedland to investigate allegations of brutality against Aborigines by pastoralists. After six months travelling around she reported that the claims were unfounded. Back in Perth she mixed again in society circles, but also did some work amongst the Aborigines in the south-west. By the first World War period she was committed to helping the Aborigines and by 1919 she had set herself up in a tent at Ooldea siding in the far west of South Australia on the transcontinental railway line. Her distinctive Victorian dress, which she continued to wear even in the heat and dust of the desert area, and her style of living made her appear eccentric.

In her 70s she retired to Adelaide and in collaboration with noted Australian writer, Ernestine Hill, wrote a book, The Passing of the Aborigines, which, despite all her good work with the Aboriginal people, was considered at times to be ill-informed and demeaning. Although she had married earlier in her life she spent most of her career as a lone woman.

Max Brown, 'Dame Daisy Bates', 100 Famous Australian Lives, 
Paul Hamlyn, 1969, pp. 202-206.

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