During World War II, when I was 10 years old my entire community of Hope Vale in Far North Queensland was rounded up by the army and forcibly transported south from our tropical Cape York to arid country. It was a traumatic upheaval and nearly one-quarter of the people died as a result of our banishment.
Suspicions about loyalties of the German-Lutheran mission prompted allegations of a possible invasion, supported by Aborigines and that our people would use our bush expertise to lead the Japanese soldiers through unchartered territory.
Without any food or water, army trucks arrived on that May Day in 1942 and the community was forced by steamboat, then by train to Woorabinda Aboriginal reserve west of Rockhampton, a distance of 1,500km. Many of my people died as a result, including my sister Emily. Nearly 10 years later we were eventually returned to Hope Vale.