Many people have treasured memories of Australian missionary Margaret Somerville, none more so than the Aboriginal children she guided across the continent to safety during World War 2.
Connie Cole, one of the last survivors of this epic journey, said of Margaret:
‘She was the most wonderful woman that I ever come across.’
Margaret died last week aged 101 at a nursing home on the Central Coast.
A Memorial Service for her will be held at Rockdale Uniting Church on Friday, August 8 at 2pm.
My memories of Margaret go back to the early 1980s when I was a journalism student at the Institute of Technolgy (now UTS ) and we both attended Newtown Mission.
She seemed old to me then but in a sprightly, energetic way. Then again I was still in my teens so most people seemed old.
In preparing a radio documentary on the history of Christian mission among Aboriginal people, I interviewed Margaret at her home about her experiences. Her remarkable journey with a group of young Aboriginal children clear across the continent was, it seemed, just a small part of a long life of caring for others.
She understood that missionary endeavour among first Australians was criticised by many at the time but I remember, even in those early days of land rights protests, she was a compelling defender of Christian mission.
To see why, watch this trailer for Croaker Island Exodus:
Read more about Margaret Somerville’s life and legacy here