Gough Whitlam pouring a handful of red soil into the hands of Vincent Lingiari, by Mervyn Bishop, 1975
On 23 August 1966, 200 Gurindji stockmen, domestic workers and their families – led by Vincent Lingiari – initiated strike action at Wave Hill station in the Northern Territory. Negotiations with the station owners, the international food company Vestey Brothers, broke down, leading to a seven-year dispute. In August 1975, Prime Minister Whitlam came to Daguragu and ceremonially returned a small portion of Gurindji land to the traditional owners by pouring a handful of soil into Vincent Lingiari’s hand with the words, ‘Vincent Lingiari, I solemnly hand to you these deeds as proof, in Australian law, that these lands belong to the Gurindji people’. This is an iconic photograph of that moment.
Photo: Mervyn Bishop