Rations pulls at the threads of hand-me-downs. Lured from their homelands, clothed in cast offs and fed an alien diet of flour and sugar, the people find themselves trapped in a cycle of dependency.



"Researching Rations has been an intense experience for me-it's great because I'm learning all this history but I also feel bad because I'm finding out all these things I feel I should have known.

Aboriginal people would come in from the bush and be given the rations and then the settlers would say "You have to stay here now, you can't go beyond those boundaries, you can't go back out bush, you have to leave that and live in town and be like us." These people had ceremonies and rituals they had to perform and as soon as they were prevented from doing so, it caused conflict.

The whole ration system had an addictive quality, the addiction suffocated everyone and kept them there as well. And the diet, it was a big difference in what they were used to eating -the heaviness and the weighing down, the addictiveness of sugar. But also the flour was poisoned with strychnine and arsenic, the blankets were laced with smallpox. There was that other sinister level which always exists in Australian history."

Frances Rings, 2002

This production features the First Nations' language Walmajarri (The Great Sandy Desert - to the south of the Kimberley).

Sections of Rations

  • Mourning
  • Flour (Father Abraham and Domestics)
  • Ceremony
  • Blankets
  • Tobacco (Ash and Smoko)
  • Humpy

Duration: 37 Minutes

Rations premiered in 2002 as part of the double bill Walkabout, which included Rations and Rush.

Rations was remounted in 2006 as part of the double bill Clan, which included Rations and Unaipon





Premiere Season: National Tour | 2002
Walkabout: Rations | Program | 2002