Daisy Bates

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Daisy Bates



Born:  Daisy May O'Dwyer, on 16 October 1863 at Ashberry House, Caraig Hill, County Tipperary, Ireland.


At the age of twenty-one she travelled on the Almora to Australia for health reasons, not to South Australia but Townsville in Queensland.

She found employment as a governess on Fanning Downs Station and on 13 March 1884 married Edwin Henry Murrant, better known as Breaker Morant. However after stealing a few pigs and paying with unsecured cheques, or not at all, Daisy told him to get lost. Daisy then remarried John Bates, an Australian born man of action, breaker of wild horses, bushman and drover, on 17 February 1885. Daisy Bates had become a Drover's wife. From 1894 to 1899, she worked in London as a journalist while her family remained in Australia. Subsequently, she was commissioned by The Times to return to Australia and investigate the alleged cruelty to the Aboriginal population.

Thus began her life living amongst the Aborigines, for 26 years from 1919 to 1945, all up some 35 years. In this time she studied customs, languages, rites and legends going back to the Dreamtime. To passengers on the Trans-Continental train she was a familiar sight, an anachronistic figure in her Edwardian ankle-length skirts, high starched collar and voluminous fly-veil.

In 1933 she was created a Commander of the Order of the British Empire by King George V.

A Western Australian tribe gave her the name of 'Kabbarli', the Grandmother. Her book, The Passing of the Aborigines, published in London in 1938 eared her an international reputation.

When she was more than 80 years of age she went back to live with tribal aborigines at Wynbring, 177 klms east of Ooldea but illness compelled her to return to Adelaide where she died in 1951.

  • Archives - Daisy Bates - From 1913, Daisy Bates lived among the Aboriginal people of north-western South Australia for thirty years. 

  • Bates, Daisy May (1863 - 1951) - A chronological outline of her life - Bright Sparcs

  • Daisy Bates - Daisy Bates was fascinated with wild nature of west Australia, and deeply enjoyed the company of its flora and fauna. To bring the empire to the desert.

  • Daisy Bates' maps - Daisy Bates Special Collection Maps. See especially pp.23-25 of Isobel White (ed.) 1985. Daisy Bates. The Native Tribes of Western Australia.

  • ECCENTRICITY - Daisy Bates - ECCENTRICITY Daisy Bates, orn ... mind. Daisy Bates died in 1951. 

  • Papers of Daisy Bates - Daisy Bates Papers. These listings have been derived from descriptions and folder titles provided by Daisy Bates, with some additional explanatory notes. 

  • Papers of Daisy Bates - MS 365 PAPERS OF DAISY BATES. ... Summary. Creator: Bates, Daisy, 1859-1951.

  • UTS film maker reveals the real Daisy Bates - UTS film maker reveals the real Daisy Bates.

Last Modified: Thursday May 20, 2010

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