This Musical Dispatch from the Front is a guest post by my old—in both senses of that word—friend Frank Baarda,* a long-term resident of Yuendumu.


This is a tale of how IMHO the police should be and how it is.

On our odyssey when we returned from Canada in 1970, we camped on top of a cliff just outside Billings, Montana. The panorama of the city below was fabulous.

When a police patrol vehicle pulled up we expected to be moved on. A lone policeman emerged and it was noticeable that in contrast to other US police we’d seen he was unarmed.

Instead of telling us camping was forbidden he told us he’d stopped by to see if we were OK.

He told us that where we were camped, the bodies of several murdered prostitutes had been dumped by a crime syndicate, but not to worry as this had nothing to do with us.

He also told us why he’d joined the police. He’d been in Vietnam where he’d done some seriously bad things which he didn’t elaborate on.

That is why he didn’t wear a gun, he said.

He joined the police to do good such as defusing domestic violence situations. We have never forgotten this fellow. I hope he found redemption.

Half a century later in Yuendumu a young man was killed. Three bullets were pumped into him by a policeman.

If you can’t sleep, I suggest you access the daily transcripts and other evidence at the Coronial inquest being held in Alice Springs into the death of the young man.

There is no hint that NT police might stop carrying guns, nor that they will stop moving people on.

The fellow who pulled the trigger is currently a witness at the inquest.

Maybe I’m not very good at reading body language, but I detect no sign of contrition whatsoever, all I read is cocky arrogance.

Salt into the wound.

And make no mistake, Yuendumu has been wounded, not least by the injustice of it all.



PS: How justice was our battle, and how Justice was denied.

You can read Frank’s earlier posts here, herehere and here.