'Felicity ain't moving'


PICTURED: Back row, from left – Harry Hayes, Christiana Hayes, Angelina Hayes & babe, Janessa Ryder, Shirleen Hayes, Ursula Nicoloff, Shawn Johnson, Tyrell Impu-Hayes, Julie Hayes (in shadow), Felicity Hayes and (walking into frame), Kaileen Webb.
“She is not moving. She is fighting mad.”
She is Felicity Hayes, and the place she’s not moving from is Whitegate where her extended family has lived for generations although by white law it is still no more than a squat.
Whitegate is at the eastern edge of Alice Springs, straight ahead from Undoolya Road and through some low hills.
The government has cut off the water to the handful of sheds and humpies, there is no power, someone has stolen the solar panels and the pit toilets are overflowing.
Rod Moss is carting water to Whitegate. Noted painter and author, his book about the Whitegate people, The Hard Light of Day, won the 2011 Prime Minister’s award for non-fiction.
It is named after the gate put there by senior man Mort Conway who raised his family there. The gate was to keep in horses he was agisting to supplement his taxi driver income half a century ago.
Mr Moss says there are stories going back much longer, trees, rocks and crests with mythological meaning.
The Hayses are Aboriginal royalty: the Alice Springs Native Title case in the Federal Court is named after Felicity’s aunt Myra, Hayes v Northern Territory of Australia.
Mr Moss says contrary to an assurance by government front bencher Bess Price, the government is determined to force the “Whitegate mob” out and resettle them in Hidden Valley. It is a town camp notorious for its violence and inhabited by people with whom the Hayses have a traditional animosity.
Mr Moss says the population of Whitegate fluctuates from a handful to 30 or 35 when bush relatives from Titjikala or Harts Range come to visit – and have nowhere else to stay.


  1. Why should bush relatives want to stay anywhere else. It is normal to stay with family when you visit so that should be accepted and catered for.
    Thanks for telling the story, Erwin.

  2. Adam Giles will find it even more difficult to force Felicity Hayes to leave her preferred spot than it was for him to despatch his bully buddy Dave from his high office.

  3. Given that this issue has gone on and on and on for years now, and given that the same families are still camping there as they have been from the beginning, and given that others are often cut slack up and down the track, why not just re-connect the power and water and give the “Whitegate mob” their piece of dirt? What is the problem?

  4. Us white fellas still haven’t fully conquered this country. And it ain’t terra nullius out at Whitegate.

  5. Leave the Hayes family alone. They have been there for years, they are not harming anyone. Put the water back on for them.

  6. I am an Aussie whitefella living in San Francisco. From what I gather Felicity and her mob under adverse possession are owners of the land and should be entitled to keep it.

  7. If Bess Price is so concerned about the living conditions of women and children why doesn’t she turn the water back on?

  8. To the Australian Government: Leave these people alone, haven’t you hurt them and taken enough from them?
    I suppose turning their water supply off is nothing compared to what you have done to them throughout history. Bastard Government.

  9. So now Australia is known as a country that turns off water supply to humans?
    I am so sick of trying to defend Australias lack of humanitarism overseas, stories like this demonstrate we have no humanity in government.
    No point saying sorry and denying a family water. This is their land too. Turn the water back on and stop harrassing them.

  10. I would, with enthusiasm, add to a petition for YOU: SURVIVORS OF A CONTINUING MOVE TO genocide. By successive state and Federal Governments. YOUR LAND YOUR CHOICE. SERVICES ARE EVERY GOVERNMENT’S IMPERATIVE. THANK YOU FOR YOUR PATIENCE.

  11. Put the water back on for these beautiful Aboriginal people. They are fighting for their lives here. It is their land, not the NT government’s and thanks to Pat Cash for bringing this out in the open,.
    The NT government has a lot to answer for in the human rights area regarding Aboriginal people who have lived and nurtured their country Australia for 60,000 years. Kitty Coombes.


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