The Horror That Was Bindoon (Or: The Orphans’ Fiend)


Image source:

Bindoon Boys’ Town was a Christian Brothers’ facility in Western Australia. It was run by Br. Kearney, known in his circles as “The Orphans’ Friend” but as a “Christian Bugger” monster by the boys who passed through the facility. It was the first of the old “Homes” to come to public attention, in the late 1980’s. A recent U.K. House of Commons report describes events at Bindoon as “quite exceptional depravity, so that terms like ‘sexual abuse’ are too weak to convey it.”

The purpose of this article is not to detail the events at Bindoon so much as to provide a concise source of references to that awful place. There have been several books, press articles, television documentaries and even a film based on Bindoon. Former Bindoon boy, Lionel P. Welsh, and co-editor and founder of the Bindoon activist group VOICES, Bruce Byth, published “The Bindoon File”. Lionel also published “Geordie: Orphan of the Empire” and “Geordie: An Incredible Story of the Human Spirit”.

“Who Am I?” by Robert Taylor, also a former Bindoon boy, was published by Chargan of Perth and, according to the Nothern Territory Times, is available for $35 from Mr. Taylor (see reference below).

As many of the Bindoon boys were child migrants from the U.K. (see previous posts), the facility caught the eye of Margaret Humphreys, who founded the Child Migrant Trust to fight for the rights of former child migrants and did much to publicize the plight of former residents of the place. Her non-fiction book, “Empty Cradles” became the basis for the film, “Oranges and Sunshine”.

Alan Gill, a former religion writer, is the author of “Orphans of the Empire.”

A particularly good, complete yet concise account, presented to the British Parliament by VOICES is available at

The site (listed below) gives an excellent set of photographs of Bindoon Boys’ Town.

Bindoon represents the epitome of a scheme gone wrong. From the middle of the 19th Century until as recently as 1970, 130,000 British children – some aged just three – were rounded up, with the knowledge and support of organisations such as the Dreadnought Trust, Barnardo’s, Fairbridge and the Big Brother Movement.  They were shipped off to the Empire and ended up in places like Bindoon, as “Child Migrants”.

In 1998 a House of Commons select committee described the migration scheme as “Britain’s shameful secret”. An inquiry by the Australian Senate in 2001 heard stories of rape, abuse and cruelty, including children scrambling for breadcrumbs on the floor and a boy being forced to shoot and skin a horse he considered his only friend. Almost as shocking was the deceit that had been practised on children who had been robbed of their country, roots and identity. “We were told we were orphans, that we had no one,” says Mick Snell, but this was not true. Many were just illegitimate or from impoverished families.

Although children were also shipped to Canada, Rhodesia and New Zealand, Australia became the favoured destination after the war. The young immigrants were cheap to house and a good source of labour. And, importantly, they were white. As the Archbishop of Perth declared in 1938, at a time when Australia was desperate to boost its population: “If we do not supply from our own stock, we are leaving ourselves all the more exposed to the menace of the teeming millions of our neighbouring Asian races.”

One former child migrant recalls his welcome to Australia by the Bishop who said “We welcome you to Australia. We need you for white stock. The reason why we do is because we are terrified of the Asian hordes!” This was when Australia had the infamous “White Australia Policy”, introduced by a Labor Government, which banned non- whites from entering, or living in, the country. It was only abolished in the late 1950s.

Child migration to Canada had been a regular, but small-scale feature of Catholic ‘rescue’ for deprived British children from 1872. The emigration to Canada continued until the Depression in 1930. When the Canadian government finally refused entry to unaccompanied children, Catholic organisations saw Australia as a possible destination for the youngsters.

One of the major destinations was Bindoon, an isolated institution 60 miles north of Perth, run by the Christian Brothers. The first shock for new arrivals was the desolate landscape; the second was the place itself, an abandoned farm property. It was the boys who were to build Bindoon, and children as young as 10 (some accounts indicate children as young as 8) were set to work, constructing schools, dormitories and kitchens. They hacked at the ground with picks and shovels, and mixed concrete by hand in the blazing heat. Those unable to cope with the back-breaking labour were flogged, sometimes until their bones were fractured. Then there was the third shock of rampant sexual abuse.

The Christian Brothers member, who headed the place for many years, will be the subject of the next posting, particularly from the viewpoint of the extreme differences of accounts of the man from the boys and from church and state authorities.

Read more here:

  • Authors: Welsh, Lionel P and Byth, Bruce and Welsh, LP (eds); Title: The Bindoon file; Imprint:  P&B Press, Perth, 1990; ISBN/ISSN0959660666; Description: ‘The Bindoon File’ is available in Western Australian libraries. Call No. Q362.732 WEL Abstract’
  • Welsh, Lionel P, Geordie: orphan of the empire, P&B Press, Perth, 1990. Details: Welsh, Lionel P, Geordie: an incredible story of the human spirit, ELJAE Press, Victoria Park East, 2004

TOMORROW: Brother Francis Paul Keaney, the abuser

That’s all I can say

Lewis Blayse (né Lewin Blazevich)


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3 Responses to The Horror That Was Bindoon (Or: The Orphans’ Fiend)

  1. simon says:

    You should realize that , if you didn’t ask to be treated so badly, then it is nothing to do with you, but everything to do with that person,

  2. simon says:

    A memory is only as remembered, and when it is no longer known who shall then say the sorrow dread and such beyond belief, Many things are media driven, thus where none was the experience said or known, the newspaper computer and words shouts where once it was only whispers and how could it happen, you must be mistaken, only to be the stain that can not be removed.
    people die many cry, No one wants to research this subject for it to a normal person is very upsetting, but to understand you need to, Today nursing homes may be speculative and linked to corporations and drug companies overseas, just how is the wave that dumps you, to leave you to
    Hotel – Oskar -Par Par – Echo.

  3. Pingback: UK Institutional Child Sex Abuse – It Just Gets Worse | cultocracy

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