Karalundi, at Crystal Brook near Meekatharra, was established by the Western Conference of the Seventh Day Adventist Church as a 'native institution' in March 1954, for up to 50 Aboriginal children and, from 1955, children aged over 8 who were transferred from Wiluna mission. By 1971, there were 61 school-aged children. Karalundi closed in 1974 and in 1986 it became Karalundi Aboriginal Education Centre (KAEC) with links to the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. In 2007 a museum was established on the KAEC site, in one of the old mission buildings.
Karalundi was established as a Seventh Day Adventist mission in March 1954. Its name was taken from its location north of Meekatharra. Newspapers reported at the time that Karalundi meant 'clear waters' in the local dialect, a translation of Crystal Brook.
The Department of Native Affairs granted £9,700 towards the mission in addition to an earlier amount given to establish a school on the site. By August 1954, a girls' dormitory and shower room, kitchen and dining room and the school buildings had been erected.
In an article written for British Seventh-Day Adventists in 1957, the education program at Karalundi was described:
the education provided meets with the state requirements, and also includes Bible lessons and general instruction in Christian education. The industrial supervisor gives practical instruction to the boys in farming, saddlery, plumbing, and building. The girls receive training in cooking, sewing, and general domestic science. The Review and Herald 21 March 1957, p.17
The school was due to open on 13 September 1954. It provided primary school classes, Grades 3 to 7. By 1960, Karalundi was operating as a 'training school', with 90 children aged 9 to 16 years and a few older youth. According to a publicity article in July 1960, staff hoped that those students who were able to 'carry a full scholastic programme' would go on to the West Australian Missionary College. Most students learned practical skills in the afternoons. For senior boys, this included 'rough carpentry', 'farming, growing vegetables, caring for stock, and the irrigation and water supply equipment' and the girls studied 'mothercraft' and home management.
In 1962, Karalundi children were taught to recite a poem, based on Banjo Paterson's 'Man from Snowy River', to welcome their parents and others to a religious celebration at the mission:
There was movement at the Mission, for the word had passed around,
That the Karalundi camp would soon be on.
And with it bring fine stories, too, of the Christ who died for all.
And that includes the outback people, too.
So all the coloured workers from the stations near and far
Had gathered at the Mission overnight
For they all love to be together
Where the gospel is made known,
And sing about the love of their own God. Australasian Record and Advent World Survey 8 October 1962, p.5
In 1968 there were 62 children enrolled. The manual training at Karalundi, which aimed to be self-supporting through vegetable gardening and poultry farming, continued.
By 1971, 61 school age children were living at Karalundi.
On 12 May 1974 the Executive Committee of the church decided to close Karalundi and Wiluna missions. In an article in the church newsletter in July 1974, the church gave two reasons for the closure: their action in banning alcohol at the missions had caused populations to drop; and the Commonwealth government's policy of discouraging missions was at odds with the church's philosophy:
The policy is to encourage these people in their tribal customs (which we discourage), and not to take children from their homes for school purposes. We have always housed the children from an early age in dormitories, in order to run a controlled school system. In this area we have found that chasing kangaroos, emus or bungaras has much more attraction than school, and parents take no responsibility in having children attend school regularly, as most of them have never done so themselves. Australasian Record 15 July 1974, p.1
Karalundi mission later became Karalundi Aboriginal Education Centre (KAEC) with links to the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. In 2007 a museum was established on the KAEC site, in one of the old mission buildings.
Sources used to compile this entry: 'Mission Started', Sunday Times, 22 August 1954, p. 7, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59693936; 'New Native Mission', Sunday Times, 13 June 1954, p. 15, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59690743; 'Among the Australian Aborigines', Review and Herald, Vol 134 No.12, 21 March 1957, p. 17, http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Periodicals/RH/RH19570321-V134-12.pdf; 'The Flowering of Grace and Work in the Desert', Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, Vol 64 No. 29, 18 July 1960, p. 1, http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Periodicals/AAR/AAR19600718-V64-29.pdf; 'Karalundi Oasis Camp-meeting', Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, Vol 66 No. 41, 8 October 1962, p. 5, http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Periodicals/AAR/AAR19621008-V66-41.pdf; 'Miracle at Karalundi', Signs of the Times, Vol 92 No.2, February 1965, pp. 12-13, 30, http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Periodicals/ST/ST19650201-V92-02.pdf; 'Breakthrough among the Australian Aborigines', Our Times, Vol 82 No.6, June 1966, p. 26, http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Periodicals/BOT/BOT19660601-V82-06.pdf; 'New Karalundi celebrates 20 years', Record, January, p. 1,3, https://web.archive.org/web/20150701195556/http://link.adventistconnect.org/record/2007/rec01-07_01_20.pdf; Adams, CS, 'An explanation', Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, Vol 78 No. 28, 15 July 1974, p. 1, http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Periodicals/AAR/AAR19740715-V78-28.pdf; Information Services, Department for Community Development, 'pp.259-260, 574', Signposts: A Guide for Children and Young People in Care in WA from 1920, Government of Western Australia, 2004, https://signposts.communities.wa.gov.au//pdf/pdf.aspx; Scragg, WRL, 'Wandering and Witnessing in the West', Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, Vol 65 No. 29, 17 July 1961, pp. 1-3, http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Periodicals/AAR/AAR19610717-V65-29.pdf; State Solicitor's Office of Western Australia, 'p.69', Guide to Institutions Attended by Aboriginal People in Western Australia, Government of Western Australia, 2005, http://web.archive.org/web/20140126131607/http://www.dpc.wa.gov.au/lantu/MediaPublications/Documents/Guide-to-Institutions-attended-by-Aboriginal-people-in-WA-2005.pdf; 'Western Australia Protectors Reports 1899-1959', in To Remove and Protect: Aboriginal Lives Under Control [website], Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, National Library of Australia, http://aiatsis.gov.au/collections/collections-online/digitised-collections/remove-and-protect/western-australia. Annual Report of the Commissioner of Native Welfare 1959 p.8..
Prepared by: Debra Rosser
Created: 15 March 2011, Last modified: 23 July 2015