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The Screen Guide

In 1946, 800 Aboriginal people walked off sheep stations in the North West of Western Australia. HOW THE WEST WAS LOST is a documentary about this historic strike. It was more than a demand for better wages and conditions, it was a struggle by Aboriginal people for basic human rights - a struggle which continues today. Ignored by the press of the day, the strike became a bitter battle between the Department of Native Affairs and the strikers. As each found new regulations to attempt to coerce them back to the stations. But by 1949, after three years on strike, a concerted campaign of civil disobedience had left the authorities with 66 strikers in one small gaol and more ready to join them - the authorities could do little except leave the strikers alone. By 1950 the strikers had become self sufficient through alluvial mining. They survived this way until the 1970s when white mining interests once more displaced the group. Today, in the face of increasing interest in the desert from mining companies, the community is returning to its ancestral lands in the great sandy desert.

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David Noakes
David Noakes  Paul Roberts
David Noakes  Heather Williams
Dir. of Photography
Philip Bull
Frank Rijavec

Production Details

Production Completion
History and national identity


Australian Sales
Ronin Films
International Sales
David Noakes

Selected Awards & Festivals