The area known as ‘The Flats’, became home to many after the Walk Off from Cummeragunja at Barmah on four February 1939. The first ever mass strike of Aboriginal people, the Walk Off, was due to the increasingly restrictive controls upon the movement and activities of the people, the poor rations and cruel treatment they received and the increasing removal of children.
Jack Patten, with the help of William Cooper, encouraged the people of the mission to leave, therefore resulting in the walk off to ‘The Flats’. Jack Patten received a gaol sentence for his part in enticing the Aboriginal families to leave the Cummeragunja reserve. Both Jack Patten and William Cooper were spokesmen for the dispersed Aboriginal communities of central Victoria and western New South Wales.
The particular site at ‘The Flats’ was chosen as the Yorta Yorta had an extended traditional association with the environments in close proximity to rivers such as the Kaiela (Goulburn River). ‘The Flats’ was also home to some Aboriginal families prior to the Walk Off.