But Moree pool has another, more emblematic place in Australian history.
In February 1965, a group of young Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal supporters, led by one of the first Aboriginal students to enrol at Sydney University, Charles Perkins, set off in a bus to tour NSW country towns, protesting about discrimination against Aborigines. They travelled 3,200 kilometres through northern NSW, inspired by the Civil Rights movement in the US and its Freedom Rides.
At the time Aborigines were banned from many clubs, pubs and other public venues, as well as attending segregated "mission schools" or subject to exclusion from public schools on flimsy pretexts.
In the town of Moree, 650 km nothwest of Sydney the Freedom Riders decided to protest against the exclusion of Aborigines from the local swimming pool. I've written a lot on my blogs about the place of swimming in Australian culture. This protest was emblematic of segregation from one aspect of Australian identity culture. After the protest in Moree, the Freedom Riders had international media coverage.
With the press coverage came pressure from both outside and within Australia for reform, culminating in the 1967 referendum which granted the Commonwealth government the power to make laws for Aborigines, effectively granting Australia's Indigenous people citizenship for the first time.
The bus left from the University of Sydney on Saturday 12th February then travelled through Lithgow, Wellington, Dubbo (12th-13th), Gulargambone (14th), Walgett (14th-16th), Moree (16th-18th), Boggabilla, Toomelah and Goondawindi (18th), Inverell, Tingha and the Myall Creek Memorial (18th-20th), Lismore (20th-22nd), Yamba, Grafton, Bowraville (22nd), Kempsey (22nd-24th), Taree and Purfleet (24th-25th) and Newcastle (25th). The bus returned to Redfern on Saturday 26th February.
|When I taught in Moree, the baths looked like this|
|They were subsequently upgraded|