McLeod wrote of these meetings in a letter to Commissioner for Native Affairs, Bray.

McLeod's Account of Race-Time Meetings

Pt Hedland
23 July 45

Dear Mr. Bray

You will be interested to know that today I was informed that the natives camped at the four mile from Pt Hedland required my presence. These natives converge annually on Pt Hedland at race time and are representative of the whole district.

Some coming from as far south as Ethel Creek west as Munda and Mallina east Warrawagine and so on.

When I arrived I found that at a discussion the previous evening it had unanomously been decided to ask me to act as an inspector to look after the conditions of their employment and so on.

I explained that the matter of appointing inspectors was a job for your dept. they agreed that this was so but that they felt they were entitled to have some say in this matter for they felt that their treatment at times left much to be desired and they had no one in whom they could trust to place their troubles and if I would take the job they would know that when need arose I could be depended on to support them and explain their privileges to them and watch over their interests generally.

As a matter of fact I was greatly intrigued that I should be picked out by these people to watch over their interests for it is not uncomplimentary to me as you will agree.

I told them I could make no decision on the spur of the moment but would bring out their protector Mr. Fletcher and see what his reaction was to their request and give them a decision at that time.

To make a long story short Mr. Fletcher was busy and could not get out till next day so I returned and again spoke to them.
On this occasion I told them that I was sure the Dept had their interest at heart and that if it was certain that I was the choice of the majority of their people that you would be only too happy to confirm the arrangement.

At this time the whole group were present and they made no error about their desire to see me in this position. Under the circumstances I could do nothing but agree to accept their proposal and am writing to you at once to acquaint you with the facts so that you may consider the position.

Tomorrow I am to go out with Mr. Fletcher who will be able to confirm the above.

I am to go to Whim Creek on 27 July as a delegate to the Nullagine people in order to introduce a plan for discussion at this meeting which is convened to discuss northern dissibilities and will be widely attended.

I hope to be again in Pt Hedland on 31 so if you will write to the above address I will receive your letter promptly.

Yours sincerely
D. W. McLeod


Don McLeod to Bray, 23 July 1945, SROWA, 1945/0800/1-3.

Related Sources

Constable Fletcher's Report on Race-Time Meetings

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Exhibit Analysis: 

Ideas discussed included a scheme to obtain land of their own and set up economic enterprises so they would no longer be dependent on station employment. In 1945 marrngu from across the region held meetings to discuss these ideas when they converged on Port Hedland for the annual horse races. Constable Les Fletcher of the Port Hedland police was invited to attend. This is his report of the meeting.