I still remember the day a large vehicle pulled up outside my home on the outskirts of the town of Mitchell. I lived on a small plot of land that I believe was part of an Aboriginal Reserve or Land reserved for Aboriginal people (Aborigines). Soon after, there was a loud knocking on our front door.

At the door was a pallid white man, dressed in a pressed white shirt and dark (possibly blue) tie accompanied by grey shorts and knee-high whitish socks. His wide brimmed hat did nothing to hide this man’s arrogance and air of superiority to which I took an instant dislike.

He was the Booringa Shire Council Health Inspector. He started talking to my mother just as another heavy vehicle began to approach our place. He asked if we had received a notice to leave. She answered that we didn't have running water, electricity or sewerage, let alone a letterbox with a home delivery postal service (forgetting to mention the school bus that drove right past our reserve without picking us up). Nevertheless, Mr Health Inspector ordered us to pack our belongings so he could proceed to demolish our home. We were stunned to say the least.

We knew there weren’t any places to move to in Mitchell because the Booringa Shire Council had already demolished twenty or more homes from the Mitchell Yumba, the main Aboriginal Reserve. The Sergeant of Police asked my mother if we had anywhere to move to and she replied that we hadn’t. He turned to the Health Inspector and instructed him to stop the proceedings because we didn’t have anywhere else to go.

I could see that he was very disappointed, which cheered up my brother Marshall and I, if only momentarily. He stormed over to his car and sped off into town. Sometime later, he reappeared to recommence his dirty work.

We found out later that there were no vacant properties in Mitchell at that time. However, there were two condemned houses. Mr Health Inspector apparently arranged for one of those houses to be uncondemned where we didn’t live happily ever after.

Uncondemned. Is that a word?

Richard Bell, 7 October 2022