Cummeragunja Walk Off

This page marks the 80th anniversary of the Cummeragunja Walk Off which began in February 1939 and ended nine months later in October/November.

1939 Cummeragunja Walk Off

The Cummeragunja Walk Off was a protest by Aboriginal people at Cummeragunja Station.

On 4 February 1939 about 200 Yorta Yorta people walked off Cummeragunja Station in southern NSW.They were protesting against the poor living conditions and management of the station. They crossed the Murray River into northern Victoria and established a strike camp on the river bank at Barmah.

The strike camp lasted for nine months and eventually the mission manager was transferred. Some Yorta Yorta people returned to the station but many preferred to remain in Victoria.

The Cummeragunja Walk Off has been described as the first ever mass strike of Aboriginal people in Australia. It brought about changes to the Aborigines Protection Act of NSW.

Note on content of some records

Researchers should be aware that the records may contain images or documentation relating to Aboriginal people who are deceased. Researchers are warned that there may be words and descriptions which may be considered sensitive and/or offensive in today’s contexts.

NRS 905 Chief Secretary Records relating to Aboriginal Affairs (1938-49) File number A1000 [12/7584.1]

This file includes the original petition submitted by station residents requesting that the Station Manager be removed (pp97-99).

NRS-3829 School files [14/7444] Cummeragunja Aboriginal School, 1940-79

These documents relate to a meeting that was held towards the end of the Walk Off, in October 1939, between a Cummeragunja community group and the Minister regarding the education of the children.

View school files in the State Archives catalogue

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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are respectfully advised that our collection may contain images or names of deceased people in photographs or text. We acknowledge that language in the records referring to Aboriginal people may be confronting and in some instances would be considered offensive if used today.

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