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Traumatised Aboriginal children living in the squalor of a 1940s government native settlement in Western Australia create beautiful landscape drawings that gain international acclaim and challenge a government’s racist policies.

About the Project

'Welcome to The Carrolup Story. In developing this unique resource, we aim that many more Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people will walk alongside each other on equal terms to help create a society where people have an improved wellness, are more respectful, caring and empathic towards their fellows, and more protective of our planet.' David Clark, Emeritus Professor of Psychology, and John Stanton, Adjunct Professor and former Director of the Berndt Museum of Anthropology.

‘There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way it treats its children.’

Nelson Mandela

Children at Carrolup, early 1940s

Latest Blogs

02/06/2020
Mr and Mrs White with some of the Carrolup boys and the Peet family. Back row: Barry Loo, Mr. Peet, Noel White, Adrian Allen and Mrs. Peet. Middle row: Lily White and the three Peet girls. Front row: Parnell Dempster, unidentified boy and Reynold Hart. Photograph taken in 1949. Noel & Lily White Collection.

Why is the Story of Carrolup Important?

‘The first step in re-establishing healthy communities is to acknowledge and understand the impact of the colonial legacy on the lives of Aboriginal people today and the various pathways necessary for healing from historical trauma, using both cultural and contemporary understandings and processes.’ Pat Dudgeon, Helen Milroy and Roz […]
01/06/2020

Forthcoming Carrolup Book

I just wanted to remind you that the book I have been writing, in association with John Stanton, Connection: Aboriginal Child Artists Captivate Europe, will be released as a digital book that can be downloaded from Amazon, iBooks (Apple0 and Kobo on the 23rd of June, just 22 days […]
21/05/2020
Some of the Carrolup young artists. Front row: Reynold Hart (Far Left), Parnell Dempster (Middle) and Revel Cooper (Far Right). Back row, 2nd Left: Barry Loo. Do you know who the other boys are?

The Carrolup Story: 18 Months On

I can’t believe that John and I missed the 18 month anniversary of our website, The Carrolup Story. Yes, we launched The Carrolup Story as a Storytelling, Education and Healing resource on 10th November 2018, the 85th birthday of Noelene White, daughter of Carrolup teacher Noel White. Since that […]
Parnell Dempster with his pastel drawing book. Photographer: Vera Hack, January 1950. Noel & Lily White Collection.

‘Stories help us develop empathy. They allow us to understand another person’s world from their perspective.’

Lewis Mehl-Madrona

Story

09/11/2018
Aboriginal prisoners in neck chains at Wyndham, Northern Western Australia. State Library of Victoria.

Colonisation

The colonisation of Australia by Europeans had a massive negative impact on a peoples and culture that has existed for over 50,000 years. The first settlers brought diseases that wiped out large numbers of Aboriginal people, as they had no immunity to European diseases. Many of the survivors existed […]
09/11/2018
Aboriginal children of Carrolup in the early 1940s. J. S. Battye Library of West Australian History.

Trauma

Revel Cooper, a Noongar boy, is made a Ward of the State by the Department of Native Affairs and sent to Carrolup at the age of six in 1940. In a letter written in 1960 about life on Carrolup Native Settlement, Revel presents a vivid picture of Aboriginal […]
09/11/2018
The creek by Simpson Kelly, pastel on paper, 18.5 x 24 cm, c.1948. Noel & Lily White Collection, Berndt Museum of Anthropology. [WU7563]

Connection

When teacher Noel White arrives at Carrolup in May 1946, he is unable to communicate with the Aboriginal children. They sit sullenly and silently at their schoolroom desks. ‘The first week at school with our new teacher we were all scared stiff. I think if it wasn’t for […]
09/11/2018
Exhibition of Carrolup art at Boans department store, The West Australian , 23rd October 1947. The boys from left to right are Claude Kelly, Barry Loo, Reynold Hart and Parnell Dempster. Noel & Lily White Collection.

Acclaim

In 1947, the children’s drawings attract public attention locally at the Katanning Show, and further afield in Perth. ​Three children (Reynold Hart, Dulcie Penny and Vera Wallam) have their articles accepted in the Lord Forrest Centenary Booklet – in competition with other children from all over the state – whilst Parnell Dempster […]
09/11/2018
The 1948 Carrolup School football team with their teacher, Noel White.

Football

The success of the children, along with the trusting and loving relationship that has developed between the children and their teachers, lead to increased jealousy and conflicts amongst Settlement staff, as well as to violence and government inquiries. Staff turnover at Carrolup is high, and several superintendents are […]
09/11/2018
Mrs Rutter with Prince Rudy Dinah and a group of Carrolup girls. The girl second from the left is Mildred Jones. Photographer: Noel White, 31st July 1949. Noel & Lily White Collection.

Florence

In July 1949, a 71-year old Englishwoman Mrs Florence Rutter briefly visits Carrolup and purchases five pounds worth of drawings and designs. She exhibits the drawings and designs in eight cities around Australia and New Zealand, and receives many orders for the children’s artworks. The Department of Native Affairs agrees […]
09/11/2018
Part of a letter from Reynold Hart to Mrs Rutter which appeared in the Daily Graphic article ‘Can Your Child Draw Like This?’ in the UK on the 29th July 1950. Noel & Lily White Collection.

Letters

Once Mrs. Rutter returns to the U.K., she continues to update the School on her progress. She receives many welcome letters from the Carrolup boys during 1950. ‘Every letters [sic] you write Mr White reads it out to the school children. We are very proud of you and […]
09/11/2018
Parnell Dempster's Down to Drink adorns a wall at the 45th Annual Exhibition of the Pastel Society in London, 1951. Mrs Rutter proudly discusses the drawing with Mr and Mrs Richter. Mary Durack Miller Collection, J. S. Battye Library of West Australian History, 1951.

Europe

Initially, Native Affairs Commissioner Mr S G Middleton writes enthusiastic letters to Mrs Rutter. She organises an exhibition in Appeldoorn, the Netherlands, where the art is acclaimed. People’s perceptions of ‘Stone-Age’ Aboriginal people are changed. However, an open conflict breaks out between the new supervisor at Carrolup, Mr […]
09/11/2018
Article by school headmaster John Stokes, The West Australian , 24th February 1951. Noel & Lily White Collection.

Outcry

Mr Middleton tries to justify the school’s closure in a letter to The West Australian newspaper. He talks about sending the boys to missions and says: ‘… they will at last begin to receive some spiritual education and training which may not yet be too late to stabilise sufficiently their characters to a point where they may […]
09/11/2018
Untitled [Landscape with Fallen Tree] by Parnell Dempster, pastel and graphite on paper, 23 x 29.1cm, 1953. The Herbert Mayer Collection of Carrolup Artwork, John Curtin Gallery, Curtin University.

Shattered

The boys’ dreams of a better future are shattered by the school closure and their later experiences in a white dominated society which considers them ‘inferior’. Revel Cooper says the decision to close the school: ‘… closed the pathway to a better way of life for coloured people.’ […]
09/11/2018

Search

Social Anthropologist John Stanton first learns about the Carrolup children’s art in 1976 when he sees two Revel Cooper landscapes framing Ronald and Catherine Berndt’s study door at the University of Western Australia. He reads Child Artists of the Australian Bush by Mary Durack Miller and Florence Rutter, […]
09/11/2018
Ezzard Flowers, John Stanton and Athol Farmer inspecting the ‘lost’ Carrolup Collection at the Picker Art Gallery at Colgate University, 12th April 2005. Berndt Museum of Anthropology. [WU/P32228]

Discovery

In 2004, John Stanton’s close Australian friend Professor Howard Morphy is invited to visit Colgate University in Upper New York State by the Director of Colgate’s Picker Gallery. The Gallery set aside some Aboriginal artefacts for him to look at. When Howard arrives, the Gallery Curator, Diane Butler, mentions that […]

‘Land is a story place. Land holds the stories of human survival across the generations. Land shapes people, just as people shape their countries.’

Judy Atkinson

Leaning tree by Milton Jackson, pastel on paper, 41 x 33cm, c.1949. Noel & Lily White Collection, Berndt Museum of Anthropology. [WU7568]
Hunters by Revel Cooper, pastel on paper, 29 x 38cm, c.1948. Stan, Melvie and Gael Phillips Collection, 1947 – 65, Berndt Museum of Anthropology. [WU7304]

‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.’

Margaret Mead

‘Healing is not just about recovering what we have lost or repairing what has been broken. It is about embracing our life force to create a new and vibrant fabric that keeps us grounded and connected, wraps us in warmth and love and gives us the joy of seeing what we have created.’

Helen Milroy

The children of Carrolup in their schoolroom with the White family and visitors from Katanning. Photographer: Noelene White, late 1948 or early 1949. Noel & Lily White Collection.

Healing

04/06/2020

The Journey of Health and Wellbeing

I watched an excellent animated video on YouTube last week, The Journey of Health and Wellbeing, which was launched in conjunction with National Sorry Day and Reconciliation Week. The 10-minute animation helps to promote understanding of Aboriginal people’s experience from colonisation to the present day. It shows how […]
26/05/2020
Aboriginal children of Carrolup in the early 1940s. J. S. Battye Library of West Australian History.

National Sorry Day

Today, 26th of May, is National Story Day here in Australia. National Sorry Day remembers and acknowledges the mistreatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who were forcibly removed from their families and communities. We now know these people as ‘The Stolen Generations’. National Sorry Day is […]
21/04/2020

Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu R.I.P.

In these troubled times, I’ve been listening to more music, as I’ve always found my favourite musicians and their songs lift my mood. I’ve been meaning to include more music in this Healing Blog for some time now, but just haven’t got around to it. Time to change […]

About us

The Carrolup Story project brings together kindred spirits who believe strongly in the healing power of Story. The project is based on the core values of authenticity, belonging, connection, courage, creativity, empathy, empowerment, safety and trust.

More about us


John Stanton
David Clark

Please do not hesitate to contact us with any enquiries

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