Croker Island Exodus is powerful, moving stuff…

If you’re watching Croker Island Exodus tomorrow night on ABC1, make sure you have the tissue box nearby. You’ll probably need it by the end.

This is a moving documentary on a compelling story about 95 children and 3 missionary women who were forced to flee their mission outpost on Croker Island, north of Darwin, when the Japanese invaded the capital. But they couldn’t proceed through Darwin and instead made their way to Arnhem Land.

But they had to walk for days to reach shelter only to find government trucks could not get through to reach them. It would be another 60 mile walk to reach a train line. Over 44 days they travelled 5,000 miles on foot, boat, canoe, truck and train before reaching the safety of Sydney.

This is the kind of yarn that makes for big screen feature films and the doco has three of the aboriginal women (all ripped from their families years before) plus one surviving missionary to tell the story. They are all wonderful characters, who all feel like they have never received recognition for what they achieved.

This includes archival footage, interviews and re-enactments and it’s hard to turn away from the saga.

8:30pm Tuesday on ABC1.


  1. Sorry David, I meant the line, “when the Japanese invaded the capital”, which didn’t happen. But reading it again, I can see how one could interpret that line differently.

  2. Hmmmm, while there were some alleged landings of small Japanese naval groups for reconnaissance reasons I don’t think there was any attempt to invade and occupy any part of the Australian mainland- just air attacks at Darwin and Broome.

    • And with all their supplies depleted for an entire community I think you will find they had no choice but to move. The Japanese planes were circling so low over them they could wave to the pilots. It must have been terrifying not knowing what might happen.

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