Dressed in stiff Edwardian attire, a 60 year-old woman pitches a small white tent in the scorching sandhills on the edge of the Nullarbor. She reigns in the desert, as a self appointed Queen, and adopts the Aborigines as her subjects. She is known as "kabbarli" (grandmother).
Daisy Bates died in 1951, an Australian legend. She was a ground-breaking anthropologist, and exceptional linguist and a woman who defied convention. She was also a devout royalist, a fervent believer in the British Empire, and an outrageous snob. Some looked upon her as a saint; a tireless worker for Aboriginal welfare. Others saw her as a manipulative and self-serving do-gooder. She was cantankerous. She was charming ...
She was also a shameless liar. Masquerading as an immigrant of aristocratic Anglo-Irish descent, a respectable Victorian lady and a journalist for The Times newspaper, she constantly reinvented herself. Recently, it has been revealed that she was a poor child o the Irish potato famine and a bigamist who married the drover, Jack Bates, while she was also secretly married to the infamous Breaker Morant.
"All over the West Australian frontier I saw whole populations completely devastated ... Kabbarli, the natives would say to me - meenya jang-ga bomungat - the smell of white man is killing us." - Daisy Bates, Ooldea Notebooks, 1919.
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