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Bindi, Daisy (1904–1962)

by Michal Bosworth

This entry is from the Australian Dictionary of Biography

Daisy Bindi (1904?-1962), Aboriginal activist, was born about 1904 on a cattle-station near Jigalong Aboriginal Reserve, Western Australia, daughter of Aboriginal parents who were called 'Jimmy' and 'Milly'. Daisy's Aboriginal name was Mumaring. As a child, she worked on Ethel Creek station, learned household skills and appears to have received no formal education. She later became an accomplished horsewoman. Living and working with the Nyangumarda people on a number of pastoral stations, she both saw and suffered indignities inflicted by the police who regularly raided Aboriginal camps and shot dogs on which the community depended to hunt kangaroos. From her husband she acquired the name Bindi; no other evidence has been found of their union.

Aware of the unfairness of working for no regular pay, in 1945 Daisy responded to the call made by Don McLeod at Marble Bar. He was an elected spokesman for the Aborigines and, with Dooley Bin Bin and Clancy McKenna, urged Aborigines who worked on large sheep and cattle stations to strike for better conditions. A fluent and lively speaker, Daisy organized a meeting to convey the message. She demanded and received wages from her White employer at Roy Hill station and used the money to hire a truck with which to collect local workers when the strike began on l May 1946.

Although the employers sought assistance from the police and the Native Welfare Department to prevent the strike, five hundred men, women and children walked off the stations south of Nullagine and made their way to Port Hedland. At Nullagine, Daisy talked her way through a police confrontation where she claimed that she had never heard of McLeod, and, with eighty-six others, made her way via Marble Bar to Canning Camp on the Shaw River.

A 'tall, spare woman', with 'long, sensitive fingers', in the late 1950s Daisy suffered from diabetes, but lived in relative comfort at the Pindan Pty Ltd co-operative settlement, Port Hedland, one of the early Aboriginal ventures of its kind in Western Australia and a product of the strike. The residents worked in the mining industry and received equal pay. Having had a leg amputated after an accident in the bush, in October 1959 Daisy visited Perth to be fitted with an artificial limb. There she successfully lobbied parliamentarians for a school at the Pindan co-operative. She also visited and spoke at meetings of the Western Australian branch of the Union of Australian Women which supported Aboriginal rights.

In 1960 the co-operative split into some who wished to continue with McLeod and others who thought that his struggles against mining interests were counterproductive to the Aboriginal cause. Daisy joined those who left the McLeod camp. Little else is known of her. Katharine Susannah Prichard wrote an article about her in l959 and in 1966 Kath Walker was to make her the eponymous heroine of a poem. Daisy Bindi died of uraemia on 23 December 1962 at the Native Hospital, Port Hedland, and was buried in the local cemetery.

Select Bibliography

  • C. D. Rowley, The Remote Aborigines (Canb, 1971)
  • R. M. and C. H. Berndt (eds), Aborigines of the West (Perth, 1979)
  • K. S. Prichard, Straight Left, R. Throssell ed (Syd, 1982)
  • M. Bosworth, 'Daisy Bindi', in H. Radi (ed), 200 Australian Women (Syd, 1988)
  • UAW, Our Women, Mar-May 1960
  • Aboriginal News, 1, no 12, Apr 1975, p 10
  • Daily News (Perth), 3 Sept 1959
  • letter from Mr D. McLeod to author, 22 June 1991 (held in ADB file).

Citation details

Michal Bosworth, 'Bindi, Daisy (1904–1962)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://ia.anu.edu.au/biography/bindi-daisy-9505/text16733, accessed 15 December 2017.

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2012