I first saw the Miramax movie starring Kenneth Branagh, which was based upon this book. I was intrigued enough by the film to read this book. I was not disappointed. This book is certainly a testament to the human spirit. It also reveals the harsh, paternalistic and racist policies that the Australian government imposed upon its Aboriginal population.
In 1931, the Australian government issued an edict that mandated that all Aboriginal and part Aboriginal children were to be forcibly removed from their homes and taken to special settlements where they were to be assimilated. There, while living in inhumane and degrading conditions, they would be taught to be culturally white, would be mandated to speak English only, and would be trained to be domestic help or laborers in white households.
The author tells the reader the story of three young girls, Mollie, Gracie, and Daisy, who had Aboriginal mothers and White fathers. Ranging in age from nine to fifteen years old, the three girls were forcibly removed from their loving families and taken to a special settlement. The girls rebelled against this system, and, homesick, escaped from such a settlement. They left with iterally just the clothes on their back. Their only guide home would be a rabbit-proof fence that stretched for over a thousand miles across Australia.
The girls Aboriginal heritage and survival skills would come in handy throughout their nearly nine week long trek across Australia, as they were forced to subsist on the land and the occasional kindness from strangers. They had to endure thirst, hunger, and danger, while avoiding being caught along the way by professional trackers, police on the lookout for them, and white settlers that were unsympathetic to their situation.
This story is a most personal one for the author, as one of the girls, Molly, is the author's mother. Told in a straightforward, factual manner, it is an incredible story that is an indictment of the Australian government's racist policies against its Aboriginal people and its imperialistic self-proclaimed superiority over them.