For your enlightenment we present the Reverend Hellfire’s 2014 Invasion Day sermon. You may also enjoy
 gibson desert4

The Last Tribe


I remember when they brought them in

the Last Tribe, free-wandering the Western Desert’s

wilderness of sand and stone.


It must have been sometime in the Eighties,

in Sydney they were preparing to celebrate

Australia’s “founding” 200 years ago,

the day when Governor Phillip

and his soldiers and convicts arrived

to establish a Penal Colony.

It was thus Civilisation came

to these forgotten shores at last,

along with Syphilis and Small-pox.

The natives of the time,

watching curiously from the dunes,

sitting beside 12,000 year old

midden heaps of shells,

had no idea their time was nearly done.


So now it seemed a sad but fitting irony

that it was at this time that

the last free Tribe should be tracked down

in the Western Desert

as we celebrated the Anniversary of their Dispossession.


Terra Nullius indeed! They were still there!


Australians habitually tend to think of the Aborigines

as being a desert people, the truth is,

we took everything else

but the bits of desert

we didn’t want.

But now the mining companies wanted that too,

So it was time

to finally round up the last few wandering tribes

minding their own business,

and settle them down in the missions.


Rounded them up one by one,

till only this last little mob remained

out in the furtherest depths of the deserts.

They’d never seen a white man.


Some of their relatives who’d already

been brought in,

said they’d seen them last

sometime in the Seventies,

but they seemed unconcerned, like,

Ten years? That is nothing in the Dreamtime.


Helicopters scanned the deserts,

local trackers were loaded

onto four-wheel drives and sent

to search the dunes for signs.

It seemed to me that

quite an effort was being made

to tidy up this last loose end,

(can’t have people wandering around

like they own the place,

not knowing that this is “Australia”).


Finally they found them

in time for the Centenary

and talked them in to coming in

and living on the mission where they’d

herded the other tribes.

Poor bastards.

There were only about fifteen of them,

as I recall, looking timid

and unsure.

gibson ndesert jipg3 

I remember reading the newspaper report,

shaking with rage and grief, thinking,

Why couldn’t we just leave them alone?

Why did we have to end the Dreamtime?

Why did we have to go and bother them,

clearly they didn’t need us.

Couldn’t we have just left one, single,

solitary group of humans

out of the whole complicated

mess we’ve created.

Couldn’t we have left them one piece of Land?

Think of it as an Insurance Policy.

Just in case “the whole shit-house

goes up in flames” (as Jim Morrison used to say)

it might be good to have someone

wandering in the desert uninvolved.


A couple of months later

there was a small news item: Nine

of the Last Tribe had broken out

and fled into the Desert again.

They hadn’t been happy at the Mission, all

those strangers and different tribes, there’d

been trouble, fights, they started to get sick,

they wanted to wander their Land again,

they missed it, it was part of them

after all.

So they disappeared again

back into the endless dunes.


Perhaps you’d say I’m just

afflicted with Primitive Romantic Nostalgia

for the Stone -Age,

some sort of deluded Malcontent, a Hypocrite

content to reap the benefits of Civilisation

as I condemn It.


Maybe, but I didn’t care.

Run,” I whispered to them,

a desperate, heart felt prayer,


gibson desert Jpig


  • Authors note; Subsequent research after writing this poem revealed that Wikipedia has a somewhat different recollection of these events. Who cares what they think. I am a Poet and deal with the Larger Truths! (citation needed) 

  • ***

  • ShapeshifterRED



The Reverend Hellfire is a practising Performance Poet, an ordained Minister of the Church of Spiritual Humanists AND the Church of the Universe and President of the Kurilpa Poets,

Safe when used as directed.



~ by reverendhellfire on January 26, 2014.

One Response to “THE LAST TRIBE”

  1. The Larger Truths, indeed, Hellfire! What poets are here for….

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