WWII 1942—Broome, pearling town on the far north coast of Western Australia. The enemy was snaking its way towards the Australian coastline. Broome was being evacuated. The resident Japanese and their families had already been interned. Aboriginal families were being trucked to Beagle Bay Mission, 120 km north, under the care of the German brothers and Irish nuns. Betty Lockyer’s mother was on the last truck to leave Broome on 17 February, heavy with child.
Last Truck Out is a fascinating account of Betty’s early years at Beagle Bay and Broome. With an Aboriginal mother and an Asian father, she tells of a childhood governed by strict assimilation policies, yet infused with a potent mix of cultures and religion.
Betty, a descendant of the Nyul Nyul people, witnessed the devastating effects of family being forcibly removed from country and tradition, but is one of the few who defends the Catholic nuns and brothers who worked under this regime, wielding their influence on all levels of Kimberley society.
Her own achievements saw her summonsed for an audience before the Most Reverend Bishop Otto Raible. For two years he sponsored her secondary schooling, 2,000 miles away in Perth.
Betty’s story is a revelation. As a ‘mixed-race kid’ her influences in the multi-cultural pearling town of Broome were many. She tells her story with candour and humour, and it is one deserved to be read by all Australians.
[The ideal readership for Last Truck Out is] the broader Australian community, especially non-Indigenous people… and all those tourists who just see Broome as a big tourist attraction. They don't know about the separation of children [from their families].—Betty Lockyer
Betty was born in 1942 and lives in Perth. She has 11 children, 39 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren. Her deteriorating health condition motivated her to finish this book which was ten years in the making.
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