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image icon Crossing the Negri River, 1926

Crossing the Negri River, 1926
John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library


This is a black-and-white photograph of a car being pulled by a group of about 15 men and women across the Negri River in the Kimberley region of Western Australia in July 1926.

Educational value

This resource is useful because it:

  • This asset shows a group of people pulling a motor car across the Negri River, a tributary of the Ord River in the Kimberley region of Western Australia - even using sand belts, the help of local Aborigines was often needed to push and pull cars across the rivers and creeks of the north-west of Western Australia; the diarist for this group of travellers, W L Andrew (secretary to the WA Minister for Works, who led the party), wrote that the helpers were 'rewarded with tobacco and boiled lollies, both of which are keenly sought by the black fellows'.
  • This asset suggests that travel by car in the Kimberley was not an easy or common event in 1926 - the travellers were members of a WA Government ministerial party, led by Minister for Works Alex McCallum (1877-1935), that toured the north-west and Kimberley on a fact-finding mission in June and July 1926; the tour was prompted by a Federal Government offer to take over the development and administration of the north and north-west of the State, a suggestion vehemently rejected by the WA Government, which responded by dissolving the Department of the North-West, established about five years previously, and handing administration of the region to appropriate departments based in Perth.
  • This asset reveals something of the isolation and the transport and communication difficulties confronting remote regions of WA at the time - travel was slow and arduous, and distances to be covered were great; after leaving Perth, the ministerial party travelled 900 miles (1,448 kilometres) by rail, 2,900 (4,667 kilometres) by motor car, and 1,300 (2,092 kilometres) by boat, travelling to Meekatharra, Nullagine, Port Hedland, Broome, Derby, Fitzroy, Halls Creek, Wyndham, Ord River Station and points in between.
  • This asset reveals a glimpse of the Kimberley landscape, showing the wide river and thick stands of trees along its banks - rivers in the Kimberley flood seasonally, washing away roads and making crossings difficult if not impossible, especially for the motorised vehicles such as the two Dodges and the Rugby that transported the ministerial party in 1926.