In December 1942 an American B-24 Liberator Bomber called “Little Eva” crashed near Moonlight Creek north of Doomadgee, Queensland, after getting lost in a huge storm. Four of the crew survived the crash, but were left struggling to stay alive in this remote area near the Gulf of Carpentaria.
After four months only one crew member, Grady Gaston, remained alive. He was staying in a bark hut near Seven Emus station and living off shellfish and any other food he could find. On 24 April a Garrwa man known as “Strike a-light” Yalagu rode along the beach near the hut. He was part of a group of Aboriginal men out looking for the crew. He saw the thin white man, whom he at first took for a ghost. “Strike-a-Light” looked after Gaston and gave him food before taking him to Borroloola, Northern Territory, from where he eventually made his way back to his base in Townsville.
This work by Jacky Green (b. 1953) reveals the legacy this wartime story continues to play in the lives of the Indigenous people from the Borroloola region. To remember this event, Aboriginal people in the Gulf still perform Ka-wayawayama, “the aeroplane dance”.