DATJOIN ROCK

Near Beacon

Datjoin Rock

GPS 30 27 44 S 118 04 08 E

 

 

 

Caravan access possible Pets allowed on leash Sight seeing area Walk trails Phone access nearby

 

 

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Datjoin Rock is located 20 kilometres east of Beacon in the northern wheatbelt of Western Australia. The name is supposed to be pronounced Dah-joing. Makes me wonder why they just don't spell it that way and save people the trouble of getting it wrong.

Camping is allowed in the reserve but care should be taken when venturing beyond the first camsite with large caravans and other large vehicles.

The trail winds through trees and some are very close to the road making access difficult or perhaps impossible for bigger vehicles.

The track ascends a hill to an area with a number of rocky outcrops and boulders.

It is possible to camp near the rock and but there are only a couple of suitable sites.

The track continues to an oval turn-around that could be difficult to negotiate for some.

There is another possible campsite near the turning area.

The reserve is most popular with travellers in the late winter and early spring when the wildflowers are at their best.

There is a story attached to the rocks that you can read below.

The Brockman Affair

In 1971 Aboriginal prisoner, Lionel Arthur Brockman, escaped from Wooroloo prison and evaded the authorities by heading out into the bush.

Initially Lionel made his way into the bush around Northam and then went north to Paynes Find. After some time Lionel and his family made their way 150 kilometres to the small farming area of Wialki.

One of Lionel's hide-outs was reputed to be Datjoin Rock where he stayed with his wife and 11 of his 12 children.

Lionel was only in prison for petty theft and had escaped only 20 days before his 3 month sentence was due to expire.

Lionel had only taken to petty theft when he ran out of money and wanted to buy Christmas presents and food for his children. Like his father before him, Lionel had refused to go on welfare for most of his life.

A similar situation caused him to escape from prison when his wife Jean visited and told him the family had no money and there was no food for their children.

After six weeks on the run, Lionel's status with the authorities suddenly changed to 'dangerous' because it became known that he was carrying a .22 rifle. Being a bushman, the rifle was simply a means of providing food for his family but according to the authorities he was now 'armed and dangerous'.

The press - as is their usual habit - made a great deal of the 'dangerous' nature of this 'half-caste' who had the 'bush cunning' of an Aborigine and the 'planning skill' of a white man. Total racist hogwash but they never let that get in the way of whipping up public fear and anxiety.

Thankfully the press frenzy did not have a major effect on many of the bush people and some realised that a man travelling with his family was hardly likely to be dangerous. There was some concern about what would happen if Lionel was confronted when helping himself to chicken eggs and such on farms so not everyone was overjoyed at the prospect of him being in their area. There were some in the community who actually supported Lionel's attempts to remain free but this was largely concealed in the close-knit community.

Some local farmers took pity on him and turned a blind-eye to the occasional missing chicken as they knew Lionel was feeding his family.

The police kept watch over the only waterhole in the area but Brockman came and went undetected.

On September 24th 1971 Lionel's wife Jean gave herself and her children up to the police. The papers reported that they had been surprised and captured but that was a complete lie.

On October 7th Lionel and his eldest son were apprehended near Morawa in a bush camp.

Brockman was charged with 52 offences. 29 charges were dropped and there was a public outcry about this supposed leniency but the truth eventually came out.

It finally emerged that Lionel's original offence had come about when a relative stole Lionel's share of payment for work he had done and when Lionel applied for assistance from the government, he was refused. This led to the initial petty-theft. When Lionel was in prison his family were staying with relatives but when a government officer visited the home they were in, they were told to get out due to over-crowding. That is what led to Lionel's escape.

One has to wonder how Lionel managed to provide for his large family during his time on the run but provide for them he did.

The police had engaged in a major manhunt for a petty thief that wound up costing $31,146 - quite an amount in those days only to find that many charges were eventually dismissed. They had obviously conducted such an intensive search due to Lionel's success in evading the law. He was on the run with a large family of children for five and a half months and had made the authorities look rather foolish.

Lionel was sentenced to three and a half years for 10 charges and 9 months for the remaining 13. This was despite the fact that the government, through its negligence, had brought about the whole situation.

This story is told in detail in the book 'The Brockman affair 1971' by Tresna Shorter.

 


 

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