What about the people?
Why did the law fail Dhakiyarr Wirrpanda? Why did the events of Dhakiyarr's case unfold the way they did? The records of government are made by people and they are about people. Through them – if we can find the right questions – we can ask for explanations. Here we look at some of the people prominent in the events leading up to the trial and, through the records, unravel why the appeal for justice was heard.
The records on Dhakiyarr's case end in the mystery of his disappearance in Darwin in November 1934. But was that the end? In June 2003, 70 years after Dhakiyarr Wirrpanda speared policeman Albert McColl, the families gathered at the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory for a Wukidi ceremony that would free Dhakiyarr's spirit and enable reconciliation between the Wirrpanda and McColl families.
Wukidi ceremony, Darwin, June 2003.
The official records held in the National Archives are not the only sources on the events in Caledon Bay. Since his disappearance, Dhakiyarr's family has continued to seek answers about his disappearance and tell the story of the 'olman' [old man]. Dhakiyarr's descendants, Dhukal and Wuyal Wirrpanda, have now given their story to the National Archives to be added to this website.