Sam Lovell rides again through precious archive

The extraordinary life of Sam Lovell and the history of Western Australia’s Kimberley region is documented in a personal archive of photos and memorabilia that has been donated to the State Library of WA.

Mr Lovell, a Kimberley identity and tourism pioneer, was taken by authorities as a child from his family in 1936 and sent to the infamous Moola Bulla station and Aboriginal settlement west of Halls Creek.

He later worked as a boundary rider and stockman for years and took thousands of photographs and slides with a camera he kept rolled up in his swag.

During his travels, Mr Lovell took iconic photos of the region’s cattle industry, meatworks, mustering camps, the bush and the area’s people and landscape.

In the 1980s, he and wife Rosita helped pioneer Indigenous tourism with tours of the Kimberley and other outback destinations.

As well as his personal archive, a video recording of stories from Mr Lovell’s early life will be filmed in the coming months at Moola Bulla station.

The video documentation will be made with the help of a $35,000 grant awarded by the WA Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries to filmmaker Sian Darling.

Mr Lovell’s achievements have already been recognised locally and nationally.

He is the patron of the Western Australian Indigenous Tourism Operators Council; and the Kimberley Tourism Association has named an industry award after Mr Lovell and his wife – the Sam and Rosita Lovell Tourism Award.

In 2003, Mr Lovell was recognised in the Australia Day Honours List with a Member of the Order of Australia medal for his services as a mentor to Indigenous groups and communities in the Kimberley region in developing tourism ventures.

“Sam Lovell’s story is an important story to tell, one of national significance. There wouldn’t be many people who know our great Kimberley region and the land, as well as Sam,” WA Parliamentary secretary to the Premier John Carey said.

“On top of that, he has contributed greatly to establishing the Indigenous tourism industry which helps create jobs and boosts the regional economy.

“He’s now in his mid-80s and his is a personal story that encompasses the history of the Kimberley in the 20th century.

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