During World War Two, the Japanese threatened Darwin. One of the first responses was to evacuate all white woman and children. There was a mission on Croker Island, about 200km northeast of Darwin with 95 Aboriginal children who had been removed from their families, being cared for by three young, white, missionary women. There were no resources to evacuate this group, and so they made their own way to safety.
Eighty years later, Sister Margaret Somerville returned to Croker Island with 69 of the surviving children.
Croker Island Exodus tells the story of many of those who have survived to this day, both children and the missionaries. In their own words, they talk about leaving the mission, of travelling both by car and on foot through Arnhem Land, and of reaching Sydney and city life.
At times, I found the music a little overpowering, and some of the dramatizations were a little forced, however the story is so strong that it’s impossible not to be compelled to know more. It was wonderful to have the stories told by the people who went through it, and to see them re-experiencing some parts of it as they headed back through.