Celebrating Doris Pilkington Garimara

Celebrating Doris Pilkington Garimara

Celebrating Doris Pilkington Garimara – Today’s Doodle celebrates Doris Pilkington Garimara (born Nugi Garimara) who was an award-winning Martu author. Doris’ work recounts the experiences of the Stolen Generations and their reconnection with Indigenous Australian culture and identity. On this day in 2004, Doris Pilkington Garimara received a Western Australian State Living Treasure award for her writing, which has enriched Australian arts and culture. 

The Doodle artwork was illustrated by Warumungu/Wombaya guest artist Jessica Johnson who lives and works on Gadigal land. 

Doris’s most renowned book, Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence, details her mother Molly’s remarkable escape from Moore River Settlement. Moore River Settlement was a camp for Indigenous people that were forcibly removed from their families as a part of assimilation policies. In 1931, 14-year-old Molly and her two young family members spent nine weeks trekking 1,000 miles of harsh desert to escape. They traveled along a fence that stretched across Western Australia, knowing that their hometown, Jigalong, was on the northern end of the fence. The book concludes with Molly’s return home. But she’d have to make the same journey years later when her family was forcibly taken to the Moore River Settlement once again.

Doris Pilkington was born Nugi Garimara on July 1, 1937, in Western Australia. In her book Under the Wintamarra Tree, she wrote about her experience dealing with cultural erasure when she and her baby sister Annabelle were forced to accompany their mother to the camp. When Molly made the second long trek home with 18-month-old Annabelle, she had to leave four-year-old Doris behind as she couldn’t carry both daughters. At Moore River Settlement, Doris slept in rooms with barred windows, learned to feel ashamed of her culture, and received punishment for speaking her native language, Mardudjara. Those who tried to escape were held in solitary confinement, and Doris wouldn’t get a chance to see her mother again until age 25. 

After years of unlearning the shame around her culture, Doris took ownership of her birth name and began speaking and writing in Mardudjara. Today, her stories inspire Indigenous Australian people to reconnect with their stolen heritage.

Thank you for sharing your people’s story with the world and encouraging a reclamation of culture, Doris Pilkington Garimara. 


Special thanks to Doris’s family for their collaboration on this project. Below her daughter, Bernadine Maria Pilkington, shares her thoughts on today’s Doodle and her mother’s legacy.

Our mother, Doris Pilkington Garimara was the Queen of our family. She instilled in each of us a strong work ethic, the strength to tackle any problem head on, the importance of family, and to never give up. She achieved so much….writer, journalist, mother, grandmother great-grandmother, State Living Treasure, Co-Patron of Sorry Day Committee, mentor, and the list goes on. She left an important and enduring legacy to her family, friends, and the people of Australia.

Our Mum had a very dry and witty sense of humour and a cheeky personality. She would watch an afternoon soap called Bold and the Beautiful, and throw some very choice words at the tv. Mum was born prematurely under a wintamarra, or mulga tree, and fought to stay alive. She believed that her very survival had a purpose.

You can find more about Celebrating Doris Pilkington Garimara on the official Google Doodle Page


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