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4.3 out of 5 stars
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It's an insult to Doris Pilkington and to the children's endeavour alike to race through this book. Still, circumstances dictated [the film was waiting] and the deed was done. Which merely led to a re-read. This real-life story of three young girls escaping from the looming slavery of a Christian mission to return home is another entry on the balance sheet of imperialism. With immense forces arrayed against them, the three evaded all pursuit, even expert Aborigine trackers, to cross half a continent to rejoin their families. The distance covered was likely the longest walk in Australian history.
The roots of this story lie in the opening chapters which recount the actions of European visitors and settlers against the indigenous Australian population. Women were raped, murdered or abandoned. Men were killed, imprisoned, led into slavery as they watched their traditional lands overrun by cattle, sheep or grain. The ease with which firearms overcame spears added to the European's attitude of "superiority". By the time of Molly Craig's capture, killing had been mostly abandoned in favour of "assimilation" - a mild word for indentured servitude. Molly, recognised the fallacy of being forced into an unwanted life. She took steps to avoid this fate - many steps, as it turned out. Enough to hide from pursuers, do some elusive backtracking and arrive at home. At least 1800 km of mostly barefoot walking.
There were adventures enough along the way, and some ironies. Although alerted to their escape, the wives of white selectors fed, clothed and sheltered them briefly. Then dobbed them in to the police after the trio had again gone bush. The girls lived on donated food, captured rabbits, birds' eggs or whatever else the bush provided. Each contributed as best they could. It was enough. Seven weeks after their escape, two of the three were reunited with family. Yet, nine years later, Molly Craig, this time carrying her infant daughter, had to repeat her incredible performance.
This is an Aborigine tale told in an Aborigine manner. It doesn't examine the lives and motivations of such people as A. O. Neville or Const. Rigg. It doesn't delve into the psychological foundations of Molly or Gracie or even Mrs Flanagan. The book presents the tale as it occurred without ostentation or enhancement. There are numerous works on the conquest of Australia and its "White Only" policy and its implications. This story, stark and simple, stands on its own merits. Don't read it too quickly. There is too much to learn. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
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on 21 June 2003
a compelling and emotional book this will make you appreciate the vast distances these girls travelled to return to their homeland and the way they were treated to make them decide to walk the long way home.Racism and aboriginal rights do not even come into this,just pure determination to return to their family.
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'Rabbit-Proof Fence' is the short, but completely captivating story of three girls escape from a half-caste aboriginal centre and their epic, long walk home back to their families. This book is simply written, but extremely evocative and can easily be read in a couple of hours. But, for those hours, you will live and breathe the lives of these tenacious and brave girls completely. Written by the daughter of one of the girls (Molly) and pieced together from recollections and telegram records, this book charts what the human spirit is capable of and what bravery was shown by the girls to get back to their homes. A simple story, beautifully told and one to leave you awe inspired and full of respect. A solid four stars.

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I first saw the Miramax movie starring Kenneth Branagh, which was based upon this book. I was intrigued enough by the film to read this book. I was not disappointed. This book is certainly a testament to the human spirit. It also reveals the harsh, paternalistic and racist policies that the Australian government imposed upon its Aboriginal population.

In 1931, the Australian government issued an edict that mandated that all Aboriginal and part Aboriginal children were to be forcibly removed from their homes and taken to special settlements where they were to be assimilated. There, while living in inhumane and degrading conditions, they would be taught to be culturally white, would be mandated to speak English only, and would be trained to be domestic help or laborers in white households.

The author tells the reader the story of three young girls, Mollie, Gracie, and Daisy, who had Aboriginal mothers and White fathers. Ranging in age from nine to fifteen years old, the three girls were forcibly removed from their loving families and taken to a special settlement. The girls rebelled against this system, and, homesick, escaped from such a settlement. They left with iterally just the clothes on their back. Their only guide home would be a rabbit-proof fence that stretched for over a thousand miles across Australia.

The girls Aboriginal heritage and survival skills would come in handy throughout their nearly nine week long trek across Australia, as they were forced to subsist on the land and the occasional kindness from strangers. They had to endure thirst, hunger, and danger, while avoiding being caught along the way by professional trackers, police on the lookout for them, and white settlers that were unsympathetic to their situation.

This story is a most personal one for the author, as one of the girls, Molly, is the author's mother. Told in a straightforward, factual manner, it is an incredible story that is an indictment of the Australian government's racist policies against its Aboriginal people and its imperialistic self-proclaimed superiority over them.
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on 9 April 2013
I have read this story twice. It is a fascinating story and quite an acheived on the distance they cover in hostle conditions. And leaves you shaking your head at some of the dump decisions goverments can come up with. I highly recommend this book
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on 1 September 2014
Seen the film, absolutely GREAT!

It took me less time to read the book, than the film is to watch.

OK if you're learning English, as it's got questions about the English language at the end of the book.

Overpriced for the substance of the story.

Best to buy the DVD and watch it
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on 28 January 2014
This is such a needed eye opening film as to what happened to the indigioneous aboriginals in Australia - how they were treated and an absolutley amazing tru story to one brave girls escape to freedom. Will never get bored of watching this film, although it is upsetting.
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on 20 January 2014
I have seen the movie and was delighted with this book as it told the story of how white man came to Australia and took what they wanted the little girls walk all the way back to their families and being taken away by white men because they were half caste AMAZING
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on 25 May 2015
A simple story which leaves the reader indignant about institutional racism and sympathetic to the real characters involved. Straightforward efficient reportage yes, but a curious text for an English Literature course. There could be accusations of 'dumbing down'!
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on 22 April 2014
Used to plans literacy lessons for my class. An amazing true story that is so incredible it is hard to comprehend. A true instance when human spirit and endurance overcome such huge odds it is barely believable.
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