Doris Pilkington Garimara

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Doris Pilkington Garimara
Born Nugi Garimara[1]
c. 1 July 1937[1]
Balfour Downs Station, Western Australia
Died 10 April 2014(2014-04-10) (aged 76)
Perth, Western Australia
Cause of death Ovarian cancer
Other names Doris Pilkington
Occupation Indigenous Australian writer and nurse

Doris Pilkington Garimara AM (born Nugi Garimara; c. 1 July 1937 – 10 April 2014), also known as Doris Pilkington, was an Australian author. She was best known for her 1996 book Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence, a story of three Aboriginal girls, among them Pilkington's mother, Molly Craig, who escaped from the Moore River Native Settlement in Western Australia and travelled 2,414 km (1,500 miles) for nine weeks to return to their family.


Pilkington was born at Balfour Downs Station, near the north Western Australian settlement of Jigalong.[2] Her mother, Molly, named her Nugi Garimara, but she was called Doris after Molly's employer at the station, Mary Dunnet, who thought Nugi was "a stupid name". As her birth was unregistered, her birth date was recorded as 1 July 1937 by the Department of Native Affairs.[3] She was taken from her mother to be raised at the Moore River mission when she was three and a half years old.[2] Her sister, Annabelle, was also taken when she was three years old, but has not acknowledged Craig or Pilkington since she was abducted.[4]


Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence is considered a powerful example of the mistreatments endured by the Stolen Generations. The book was made into an internationally successful film in 2002, directed by Phillip Noyce.[5] Her follow-up book, Under the Wintamarra Tree, details her own life at Moore River and at the Roelands Native Mission and how she managed to escape by enrolling in a nursing school. Home to Mother is her children's edition of Follow the Rabbit Proof Fence. In the four books, Caprice, a Stockman's Daughter, Follow the Rabbit-proof Fence, Home to Mother, and Under the Wintamarra Tree, Pilkington documented three generations of women in her family.[6]

In 1990 Pilkington's book Caprice: A Stockman's Daughter the first of the trilogy, won the Queensland Premier's Literary Awards, Unpublished Indigenous Writer – The David Unaipon Award. She was appointed co-patron of Australia's State and Federal Sorry Day committee’s Journey of Healing in 2002. In May 2008 she was awarded the $50,000 Red Ochre Award which is made to an indigenous artist for their outstanding, lifelong contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts at home and abroad.[7]


Doris Pilkington Garimara died of ovarian cancer at age 76 on 10 April 2014 in Perth, Western Australia.[8]


  • Caprice, A Stockman's Daughter, (UQP, 1991) ISBN 0702224006
  • Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence, (UQP, 1996) ISBN 0702227099
  • Under the Wintamarra Tree, (UQP, 2002) ISBN 0702233080
  • Home to Mother, (UQP, 2006)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Doris Pilkington Garimara - obituary". The Telegraph. 1 May 2014. Retrieved 2 May 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Doris Pilkington profile at". The Australian Women's Register. 4 September 2015. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
  3. ^ Stephens, Tony: All tracks lead to Jigalong, The Sydney Morning Herald, 7 December 2002.
  4. ^ "Daughter dies with her story still incomplete". The Sydney Morning Herald. 15 January 2004. Retrieved 15 July 2007.
  5. ^ Review of Rabbit-proof Fence (film); accessed 15 July 2007
  6. ^ "Profile: Doris Pilkington". Arts in Australia. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 15 July 2007.
  7. ^ "Pot of gold at the end of the Rabbit-Proof Fence for Doris Pilkington Garimara AM". Australia Council. Archived from the original on 3 June 2008. Retrieved 29 May 2008.
  8. ^ Dumas, Daisy (11 April 2014). "Doris Pilkington Garimara, author of Follow The Rabbit Proof Fence, dead at 76". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 13 April 2014.

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