Reprint: Mr. Hatfield's Gift


Sir -As one interested in native welfare, I should like to make a small contribution toward the Hermannsburg Mission water supply scheme. My publishers Messrs. Angus and Robertson, have joined me in presenting a dozen copies of my novel "Desert Saga" - which deals with a fictitious branch of the Arunta tribe, who eventually get an assured water supply through the co-operation of a white settler - the books to be sold and the proceeds handed to "The Argus" fund. Anyone who feels that some measure of recompense is due to the peaceful people, whose land this originally was, could scarcely demonstrate it in a more practical or useful manner. I happened to be at Hermannsburg, and I drove Mr. Talbot, of gold exploration fame, out to Koporlija springs to survey levels, &c, for the scheme, and heard his report on the practicability of the project. At present 16,000 gallons a day of excellent water go to waste in desert rocks and sand, while a few miles away the natives have to watch their irrigable patch of fertile land lie idle when the well adjacent goes dry. They only want the pipes, £1,800 worth. They can do all the rest. One hears that the native is a useless, idle fellow, but to see the excellent water conservation works already carried out at the mission is to find proof to the contrary. There the aborigines have done everything, from excavating the material with which to make their own concrete to the last trowelling off of the surface. Scurvy decimated the Hermannsburg tribe in the recent five years' drought, when a small vegetable ration would have kept the natives alive and well. I hope that in this last week of the drive "The Argus" will succeed in getting the balance of the amount required for this humane work. This year when Melbourne folk are celebrating the hundredth anniversary of their acquisition of this land, worth many millions of pounds, surely the city itself can vastly oversubscribe such a small sum to soften the existence of those last remnants of a race dispossessed and fast dying out. My books, specially inscribed and autographed, will be on sale at Robertson and Mullens, at 10/ each (4ft. of piping).

-Yours, &c.


St Kilda. Feb. 27.

First published in The Argus, 28 February 1934

[Thanks to the National Library of Australia's newspaper digitisation project for this piece.]

Notes: William Hatfield (1892 - 1969), whose original name was Ernest Chapman, wrote seven novels for adults, three for children and a number of non-fiction works, including Australia Through the Windscreen.


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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on November 4, 2009 8:58 AM.

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