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Rabbit-Proof Fence: The True Story of One of the Greatest Escapes of All Time

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  5,997 ratings  ·  676 reviews
The remarkable true story of three young girls who cross the harsh Australian desert on foot to return to their home.

Following an Australian government edict in 1931, black aboriginal children and children of mixed marriages were gathered up by whites and taken to settlements to be assimilated. In Rabbit-Proof Fence, award-winning author Doris Pilkington traces the captiv
Paperback, 135 pages
Published November 20th 2002 by Hyperion Books (first published 1996)
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Petra-X Off having adventures
Sep 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Petra-X Off having adventures by: diane librarian
I am enjoying the book a lot for it's intellectual honesty as well as it's writing, rather than manipulation of emotions. It's looking like it's going to be a 5 star book, but was only a 2 star movie.

I watched the film the other night. I felt totally manipulated the whole time. It made me wonder if the director's other job wasn't making Middle East propaganda documentaries. 10% facts, and 90% lots of tear-jerk ahhh those poor people, oooh those evil bastards moments. Plus atmospheric lighting an
Richard Derus
Sep 10, 2013 rated it liked it
Rating: 3.5* of five

The Publisher Says: This extraordinary story of courage and faith is based on the actual experiences of three girls who fled from the repressive life of Moore River Native Settlement, following along the rabbit-proof fence back to their homelands. Assimilationist policy dictated that these girls be taken from their kin and their homes in order to be made white. Settlement life was unbearable with its chains and padlocks, barred windows, hard cold beds, and horrible food. Soli
April (Aprilius Maximus)
First book completed for the #AroundTheWorldAThon: Oceania Edition!

Western Australia, 1930. Not 1830. . . 1930. This is recent history. 2400km, barefoot, through rivers and harsh bush, always hiding. Three “half-caste” Aboriginal girls, 8, 11, and 15, ran away from the Moore River Native Settlement, where they’d been sent in the south of the state, and trekked all the way back north on their own, following the rabbit-proof fence.

It’s an important story, simply told.

For those who are interested, I’m including web links I found. I hope they co
Jun 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Years ago I saw the excellent movie Rabbit-Proof Fence, and GR friend Brendon reminded me that it was based on this remarkable book.

Doris Pilkington wrote this memoir after hearing the stories of her mother, Molly, and her aunts, Gracie and Daisy. Pilkington begins the book by sharing some history of the Aboriginal people in Australia, and over the generations we see how the British colonialists stole their land, killed them, starved them, and forced the natives to move into government-approved
First things first: there are a lot of reviews on Goodreads complaining that this book isn't adventure-y enough for an adventure novel.

That's because IT'S NOT AN ADVENTURE NOVEL. This book is narrative non-fiction. It tells the story of cross-cultural contact in Western Australia from the military outpost at Albany to the settlement at Swan River to the construction of the Canning Stock Route.

All of this merely serves to set the scene for Pilkington telling her mother's story. In 1931, the aut
Whitney Atkinson
Nov 09, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: unhauled
Not my favorite. I'd like to read more about Aboriginals, but this wasn't done very well in my opinion and since the author is the daughter of this woman, it was hard to suspend my disbelief in order to read this and all of the little details she inserted. ...more
Mar 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
This story is set in Western Australia during the 1930's. It's the story about three young girls Molly, Daisy, and Gracie who are forcibly removed from their families in Jigalong, North West of the Moore River Settlement. Along with these girls there are many other half cast children who are also removed from their families where they are taken to state run facilities. The children are locked into schools with bars on the windows and locks on the doors.

Not long after arriving, Molly knows she mu
Sep 14, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chrissie by: Anne
As a description of the persecution of Aborigines in Australia, this is an important book to have read. An interesting and clear presentation of the facts.

The book is about three half-caste aboriginal girls placed in the Moore River Native Settlement outside Perth. They were taken against both the wishes of the girls themselves and their families. This was a common practice, not at all a onetime exception. Half castes, children of aboriginal mothers and white fathers, that being most usually th
Sep 21, 2011 rated it did not like it
At the risk of sounding like one of "those people," the movie was better. I saw it when it came out years ago and liked it enough to get excited when I found the book it was based on at my local library. It seemed to me that Doris Pilkington couldn't decide if she wanted to write a history of her mother's walk or if she wanted to write a fictionalized version of the true events that would allow her to, as she puts it, "call on [her] skills as writer" to fill in details probably forgotten by her ...more
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
This is the sad yet beautiful, poignant true story of three Aboriginal girls who were taken from their families and tribe during the Australian government's policy of removing children, educating them to be servants and working towards a goal of assimilation by wiping out their genes – the entire race, eventually – through inter-racial marriage. They had found that within three generations of breeding with whites, the children are blond and blue-eyed. Today these children are known as the Stolen ...more
Beautiful, beautiful story, I understand the hype around this book, and would highly recommend people read this book.

The "Rabbit-Proof Fence" tells the incredibly real and true story of 3 young aboriginal girls, who as part of the stolen generation are removed from their families and taken to a "boarding school" across the country. The girls make the decision to escape after witnessing the horrors of the "school" and embark on the epic journey back to their families and home, by following the ra
Apr 02, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
I saw the movie based on this book when it came out in 2002 and really enjoyed it but the book turned out to be very-poorly written and a big disappointment. It starts out with a few very confusing and odd chapters about the history of the arrival of white men to Australia and then it moves on to the story of three half white/half Aboriginal girls who are taken over 1600 miles from their homes to an institution to be assimilated into white culture and then they escape and walk back to their home ...more
Missy J
Earlier this year I read the memoir A Fortunate Life by Albert B. Facey (1894-1982). As a young boy he moved with his siblings and grandmother to Western Australia in search of his mother. Life was tough for him because his mother had already started a new family and he was immediately put to heavy labor work to support the family. Now this memoir by Doris Pilkington aka Nugi Garimara (1937-2014) is based on the life of her mother Molly in Western Australia and how she ran away in 1931 from the ...more
Kelly (Diva Booknerd)
Australia has a turbulent and atrocious history of the treatment of our traditional land owners, the Indigenous communities that have endured at the mercy of white European settlement. The late Doris Pilkington has created a narration of her mother's story, born to an Indigenous mother and white English father, deprived of her community when removed from her land to be placed into government custody along with her younger sister and cousin. Throughout the introduction, the author discusses the h ...more
This is the story of three Aboriginal half caste girls removed from their families in Western Australia by government officials who sent them 1000 miles away to a 'residential school', more like a prison than a boarding school, where they were incarcerated and expected to learn to read and write and speak English before being sent off to be servants. The author, Doris Pilkington (Aboriginal name Nugi Garimara)is the daughter of the eldest girl, Molly and she retells their story in simple, straig ...more
Mar 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
A memoir about three Aboriginal girls who are taken out of their home in Northern Australia (during 1930s) and put in a ‘school’ to train them to become servants. This is all with government approval because the girls are part white and part native. The oldest girl is determined not to stay and to get back to her home. They run away from the school-prison and find the rabbit proof fence that runs the length of Australia and walk home, eating rabbits, beetles, what ever they could find. Pilkingto ...more
Aug 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This has blown my mind and broken my heart at once.
The true story of these three girls lives and incredible journey will stay with me.
Unfortunately so will the history it covered with regards to Australia, America and Britain.
How the aborigines were treated was truly shocking.

The fight for life these children had and bonds to their family that thousands of kms could not break is incredible.

There was parts where the text didn't flow too well but it didn't take away from the overall book.

Jun 20, 2013 rated it it was ok
The premise of the book is good; but the actuality the book was poorly written, at times grammar incorrect, and thus very disappointing. Their very Lil insight from the girl perspective and the 1st fifty pages were disorganized telling of European colonization. The 1st half of book jumped around all over the place with little to no transition btw completely new subjects. Quick read but was hard to read quickly.
This book is a true story. It tells of the British invading Western Australia in the early 1800's. People took land that didn't belong to them. They built homes and created a government on land that belonged to the aboriginal people.

By 1900 a well established white government was in place.
This government made a decision to build the rabbit proof fence because of the overwhelming number of rabbits. Stations were set up by white people along the fence line to maintain it. Station masters would emp
Diane Law
I found the book to be a great narrative of the situation in Australia in those times and I learned a lot.
It would be good if we could have learned more about the characters if the girls- their personalities, what they were feeling, etc.
Sep 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
Okay the whole history and premise of this book is very intriguing. It should get a 5 for that! I am usually one who doesn't like flowery, fluffy prose. I don't need pages and pages of detail to enjoy a story. This book is quick, to the point and almost too short. It is almost written as a direct translation of a related oral story. There is no embellishment. At times I found it a bit rushed. It took 3 girls 9 weeks to travel 1200 + miles alone. The girls were ages 8-14. Nine weeks! I've read no ...more
(Just Follow the) Rabbit Proof Fence is a moving story I had a hard time getting into.

I'm not sure why it was. The book was only 130 pages, and it wasn't a particularly challenging read.

I feel like I'm betraying the author - especially given that she died less than a year ago. (The link there, is worth clicking. It's an article about Doris Pilkington from the LA Times.)

The story fits into my curriculum well, and I don't spend enough time teaching about Australia. It deals with colonialism, indig
May 29, 2013 rated it did not like it
Very disappointed in this book.... The struggle of the girls was sad, and that was the only chapter I enjoyed.. "The escape"! So glad that's over.... :) ...more
Apr 24, 2020 rated it liked it
I read this short book after watching the Philip Noyce movie adaptation. As is so often the case, the book was better than the movie.

As in many places colonized by the English (Ireland, Canada, US and in this story Australia), land was stolen from the native people and the native families and culture was systematically and brutally attacked.

Unlike the movie, Pilkington's book provides background to the story. Further, the movie ends on a more optimistic note than the reality of the book.

For furt
I have finally read this story in book form. A friend gave me a copy ages ago and it has been in my To Read pile since, with no sense of urgency as I am very familiar with the general story as I have watched the movie many times.
But oh my, the book gives you so much more depth and context and history.

It is an amazing story, it gives every Australian the ability to look at a more balanced view of settlement history than is generally taught in this land.

I will recommend everyone reads this, wat
Jan 17, 2019 rated it liked it
This is a powerful collection of the stories of how the west was lost, and how the girls made the trek to come home to family.
Antonia Ballauf
Why do they think the half-caste children will be “happier” if you separate them brutally from their families and put them in a settlement, where they are constantly punished and treated inferior?!
Dec 26, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: film, world
Excellent retelling of an extraordinary true event. Starts with potted history of the "progress" of colonial contact with aboriginals, which helps to set the scene/establish context; then the "escape" itself told, giving a wonderful feeling of the girls' matter-of-fact attitude and connection with the landscape. Very flat style, so feels more like a documentary record than a literary dramatisation, but valuable/rewarding nonetheless. 3.5 stars rounding down. ...more
Sep 14, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
I was torn about this rating. At first I thought it wasn't fair to rate a book that kids read in school by my adult reading standards, but then as we were discussing at book club, where some did not even finish it, it occurred to me that as an adult I have read and enjoyed a number of YA books. So maybe it reads better in Australia than the US? I can say that the writing was flat and rather inexpert in my opinion. So it dropped from three to two stars.

On the other side of the coin, this is an im
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Books2Movies Club: Rabbit-Proof Fence 2 17 Aug 10, 2019 02:33PM  
Reading Between C...: Rabbit Proof Fence - Thoughts 20 14 Jun 20, 2013 05:01PM  
Children's Books: Rabbit-Proof Fence: Has Anyone Read This or Seen the Movie? 6 42 Jan 19, 2013 08:41AM  

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July 1 birth date is approximate.

Doris Pilkington is also known as Nugi Garimara and Doris Pilkington Garimara.

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4 likes · 3 comments
“From when she was young, Molly had learned that the fence was an important landmark for the Mardudjara people of the Western Desert who migrated south from the remote regions. They knew that once they reached Billanooka Station, it was simply a matter of following the rabbit-proof fence to their final destination, the Jigalong government depot; the desert outpost of the white man. The fence cut through the country from south to north. It was a typical response by the white people to a problem of their own making. Building a fence to keep the rabbits out proved to be a futile attempt by the government of the day.

For the three runaways, the fence was a symbol of love, home and security.”
“Numbers, dates, in fact mathematics of any kind, have little or no relevance in our traditional Aboriginal society. Nature was their social calendar, everything was measured by events and incidents affected by seasonal changes. For example, summer is pink-eye” 2 likes
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