Hamersley Gorge along the Nanutarra Munjina Road Pilbara, photograph by Claire Martin, 2014
Foreword Lorraine Injie, Chairperson IBN Corporation
Marlbatharndu Wanggagu Once Upon a Time in the West: Sharmila Wood, FORM Curator
Our Station Life
Pastoral Paternalism in the Pilbara Dr Maryanne Jebb, AIATSIS Research Fellow
Black Eureka! Jolly Read
Collaborators: Claire Martin, Photographerâ€™s Note
Jetsonorama, Evolution of the Painted Desert Project
Seeing the Desert Julia Fournier
Interview Reko Rennie
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are warned that this book may contain images of people who are now deceased. This image contains photographs from stations not in the Yinhawangka, Banyjima and Nyiyaparli area, this has been considered and approved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical (including photocopying, recording or any information storage and retrieval system) without permission. It is customary for some Indigenous communities not to mention the names or reproduce images of, or associated with, the recently deceased. All such mentions and images in this book have been reproduced with the express permission of appropriate authorities and family members, wherever it has been possible to locate them. Nonetheless, care and discretion should be exercised in using this book. Where there are variations of spelling for Indigenous words, the most commonly used versions have been included, or, where supplied, the preferred spelling of individuals and communities. Front Cover Artwork by Reko Rennie
Branding Cattle on Nicholson Station, photograph by Percy Spiden, Pictures Collection, State Library of Victoria, 1955
Stockyard workers from Life and Work on Roy Hill Station, 1955, Courtesy State Library of Western Australia
foreword Lorraine Injie, Chairperson, IBN Corporation
The traditional lands of the Yinhawangka, Banyjima and Nyiyaparli people are in the high country of North Western Australia; a region whose modern development was driven by the pastoral industry. Aboriginal people, including our families were closely engaged with this industry; from its very beginnings. Kaye Forrestâ€™s book, The Challenge and the Chance is a historical record of this interaction. She records Aboriginal people welcoming
Supporting the Yinhawangka, Banyjima and Nyiyaparli people
settlers and guiding them to good pasture, dispossession, battles, friendship and cruelty, and an intimate integration into the work and life of the stations. Forrest records an account of a settlerâ€™s wife staying with the Aboriginal camp, where she felt safer than staying with white workers at the homestead, when her husband travelled away. There is no simple story to this history, but dispossession left a legacy, the effect of which continues to this day. Most people would not know that in 1878 Aboriginal people lost the right to hunt on their lands, a right that only returned with Native Title in 1993. They lost the right to hold a miners licence in 1888, the same year the first of Western Australiaâ€™s goldfields were declared in the Pilbara. The pastoral industry is a part of the identity and history of many Aboriginal people. And there is no doubt that the industry could not have been built without Aboriginal labour.
During this project many of those
dust, in the industry that was the
working with Andrew Dowding
interviewed reflected that being
economic backbone of the North
(Anthropologist) Sharmila Wood
on the stations was a happy
(Curator) & artists such as
This is a contribution that has
Jetsonorama. We are grateful to
time, they worked on country, with their family and their tribe. Aboriginal people were good at station work; they had the skills. The Yinhawangka, Banyjima and Nyiyaparli people have many experiences and stories connected with stations around the Central Pilbara. Whilst people have fond memories this was also a period of great hardship and pain. Yet, there is a deep pride in many Aboriginal people for what they did in building the pastoral industry. They were stockmen and domestic workers – intelligent and acute horsemen with an intimate knowledge of the country; they built windmills, fed hundreds,
remained largely unrecognised
them for the passion and skills
in the broader community. This
they’ve brought to this project and
project is important because
the respect that they’ve shown to
it makes Aboriginal pastoral
our Elders and their history.
histories visible. The recording and
IBN has invested in this project
sharing of stories, language and traditions is very important to IBN and, we believe, to Australia.
as we believe it will serve as an important historical record that will show the young people and
It is an essential part of our
future generations something of
the spirit of the Aboriginal men
That’s why our partnerships with
and women who helped to build
FORM, and other organisations
such as Wangka Maya Aboriginal
This project pays respect, in a
Language Centre, who work
highly visual and engaging way, to
tirelessly to preserve over 30
the contribution Aboriginal people
Aboriginal languages found only in
made. This is something that has
the Pilbara region, are so vital.
not been well recognised, despite
sheared sheep and repaired fences.
FORM has captured these stories
the pastoral industry being so
They worked for rations in hard
in film, photography, audio and
closely linked to the Australian
conditions, in the heat and the
large scale art installations,
The Milky Way seen from Cowra Outcamp, photograph by Claire Martin, 2014
Marlbatharndu Wanggagu Sharmila Wood, FORM Curator
Quartpot, photograph by Claire Martin, 2014
Marlbatharndu Wanggagu - Once Upon a Time in the West explores the untold history of pastoral industry from an Aboriginal perspective. In June 2015 pastoral leases are due to be renewed, which is a poignant time to reflect upon the pastoral history. Aboriginal people played a vital role in developing the industry, yet their role as an essential workforce is often unacknowledged. This is not the first project to recount the pastoral era, and is not intended to be comprehensive; rather it is an opportunity
Once Upon a Time in the West
to present a range of the histories experienced by Yinhawangka, Banyjima and Nyiyaparli (IBN) people on stations.
Once Upon a Time in the West is about the interconnectedness between the past and present, about history and place, itâ€™s about heritage, but itâ€™s also about the future, and more than anything itâ€™s about resilience, courage and hope.
This project emerged from a series of informal and formal consultations with elders and board members from the IBN Aboriginal Corporation. Station Life, which has a strong resonance with people across generations, and family groups emerged as a priority focus for the project. Painting is not a common form of creative expression for IBN people. In a community where intangible cultural heritage remains important, yet, often neglected, as both a system of knowledge and form of creative expression people embraced the opportunity to tell their stories and have these recorded for a cultural project. IBN has developed into an Aboriginal institution with a strong commitment to self determination, embodied in their relevance and significance to their membership of Yinhawangka, Banyjima and Nyiyaparli people around the Pilbara.
It was important that the approach
which include images of rodeo
culminated in a series of paste
we embarked upon together was
riders and cowboys, that related
ups around South Hedland, and
inclusive, broad and participatory.
directly back to the pastoral
Indee Station utilizing historic
Storytelling emerged as the most
industry. Jetsonorama seemed the
and archival images of Aboriginal
suitable and open platform, one
ideal artist to assist in visualizing
people at work on the station.
that does not exclude people
the station experience in
They evoke nostalgia, yet clearly
because they do not identify
collaboration with IBN participants.
illustrate the working life of people
as artists As the conduit for expression, the oral tradition has a
In March 2014, Andrew Dowding,
during this time.
an Aboriginal anthropologist and
Whilst the rolling out of paste-ups
I were invited to the IBN Annual
was delayed, the AGM endorsed
General Meeting to talk about
the project, with elders nominating
the project, and receive feedback.
their participation, so Andrew
Jetsonorama, who had just arrived
and I embarked on a series of
from the USA accompanied us.
trips to speak with Yinhawangka,
When he began to show images
Banyjima and Nyiyaparli people
in a slideshow of the majestic
who are scattered like stars across
Arizona landscape, the room was
the towns of Tom Price, Wakathuni,
silent- intrigued by this African-
Bellary, Parabardoo, Port Hedland,
As FORM had begun to deliver
American artist with his paste ups
its PUBLIC program, which
on the sides of buildings, water
Community, and Karratha. Whilst
explores creativity as a catalyst
tanks and caravans in a landscape
I had some understanding of
for generating public good with a
that resembled some of the
what people had experienced on
focus on artists working beyond
Pilbara’s magnificent vistas.
the station, it was, at times, an
unique place in Aboriginal culture, which in this project allowed for broad engagement with a range of community members. Yet, this also posed some challenges for visualization as we wanted to ensure that IBN people were at the forefront of shaping their representation.
the gallery walls, Jetsonorama’s practice came to our attention. Born in North Carolina and trained as a doctor, Jetsonorama has lived on the Navajo Nation reservation in Arizona for the last 26 years. In recent years, he has initiated The Painted Desert Project, which takes his experiences on the reservation and uses the platform of art to build community, esteem and a sense of identity. A number of IBN members had expressed an interest in connecting with Navajo communities, and had identified with Jetsonorama’s paste-ups,
The initial enthusiasm for the
emotional and difficult journey.
paste-ups from the elders who
During this project many of
congregated to meet with us
those interviewed reflected on
after the presentation, was
the station days fondly, as a time
diminished as some fears and
when they worked on country
anxieties emerged about the
with their family, developing into
public presentation. Ultimately,
champion horse breakers, rodeo
Jetsonorama’s Pilbara trip in
riders and kings of the gymkhana.
April did not result in large
Energy, action, risk and adventure
-scale portraits embedded
were part of this life. Despite not
in the landscape, as the idea
being financially rewarded for
needed longer to be considered.
their knowledge, skills or hard
However, the trip presented an
work, respect and status was
opportunity for exchange and
bestowed from the community on
creative development, which has
exceptional horsemen and women,
many of whom are remembered as
family, provided strength and a
This is clear in the way people
heroes in these stories.
sense of shared belonging. Story,
adopted cowboy culture, illustrated
corroborees, songs, and family trips
by a love for, Country and Western
to the bush helped to replenish and
music and fashion. Whilst the
nurture people, sustaining them
stars of Cowboy films were white,
through difficult times.
people recognized the lives and
Women were just as accomplished as men in the saddle, and, whilst employment in roles on the station was gendered, when it was required
landscapes represented, they
women also did fencing, horse
There were many times, where
breaking, well sinking, mustering,
silences and gaps amplified
and ‘gun slinging.’ However,
unspoken tragedy and sadness.
women’s primary role appears to
In many stories, the absences of
be domestic and they worked as
experience suggested deep chasms
cooks, cleaners, and nannies. I
of grief, and unspeakable things.
found it ironic that station owners
Some people recounted violence,
often entrusted their children to
exploitation, control, and slavery.
women who worked in their homes,
The impact of legislation such
When the photographer, Claire
yet many nannies were subject to
as the Aborigines 1905 Act (WA)
Martin travelled to photograph
government policies, which forced
ensured a framework of control,
those who had nominated to have
the removal of their own children.
segregation and surveillance
a portrait, many of the men put on
Similarly, Aboriginal women
governed peoples’ lives, and the
their cowboy hats, boots and belts.
prepared food, but they were not
impact of these policies is evident
There was pride and connection
allowed to eat inside, having to
in the lived experience of IBN
with this culture that people were
take their meals to the wood heap,
keen to portray, reflecting how
illustrating the apartheid that in fact, existed across the entire state.
In spite of trauma and hardship, the attachment and rootedness of
Yet, rather than a narrative of
people to the station is commonly
victimization and struggle, I heard
expressed. They are places to
voices which were courageous
which IBN people connected
and heroic. IBN people created
spiritually and psychically; they
intentional communities of refuge
worked, suffered, and loved there,
in the tin shanties and humpies
they raised their children across
they inhabited; culture, family
the generations in the face of
bonds, laughter and love were alive,
hardship and uncertainty. In many
whilst strict discipline maintained
ways, Aboriginal people absorbed
kinship and tradition. Material
elements of station life and made
poverty did not necessarily equate
them their own; the pastoral
with spiritual poverty, instead,
culture was not positioned in
cultural abundance and being in
opposition to Aboriginal cultural
Country, connected to place and
existence, but integrated into it.
identified with the heroism, horsemanship and athleticism of the movie stars. Gymkhana, rodeo, and cowboy oriented activities were adopted into Aboriginal culture with confidence, yet traditions were also retained.
the IBN participants were part of the photo making process, both present and curious. It was not always possible to travel to stations where people had worked, due to displacement and distance from traditional Country. Whilst people are living far away they often wish to return home, expressing feelings of wellness and peace in the bush. Due to distance and time a solution was for people to nominate where they would like to be photographed, whether it was a spring close to their community or a stock yard outside of town.
Claire’s practice was well suited to
Through conversations and
Aboriginality and the pastoral
this project as she actively seeks
discussion, Claire suggested that
industry. A stockman’s hat
to co-create work with the people
the few objects people owned were
is a symbol of masculinity,
she photographs, combining her
also photographed, these objects
independence, and reliability,
personal vision with the alchemy
function to delineate time, place
whilst the yandi dish, originally
of feeling, content and aesthetic
and people from when station work
traditional cot for babies and a
sensibility that occurs in the
was a way of life. Whilst people had
domestic implement for gathering
moment. I witnessed how Claire
few resources available, they often
fruits and vegetables which,
made people feel valued and
showed a willingness to explore
ultimately came to represent
special, able to build a rapport and
and exploit aspects of the non-
independence and played an
sensitivity in her engagement as
Aboriginal world, such as the new
important role in the 1946 Pilbara
a photographer. The road trip we
experiences offered by cars, which
undertook through the Pilbara was
were seen as prized objects and a
a fast paced and intense journey.
symbol of independence.
However, Claire was in a rhythm of
The juxtaposition with traditional Aboriginal boomerangs illustrates
Reko Rennie’s installation created
how station life was absorbed
for the exhibition in Perth, features
into Aboriginal life. More than
a 1954 international AR 110 Truck
this, boomerangs express culture,
which he converts into a symbol
used in music and law they were
of Aboriginality. Reko, who is one
symbols of invention- it is with
Claire was a co-founder of this
of Australia’s most significant
these simple instruments that the
multidimensional project which
contemporary Indigenous artists,
world is sung into existence. The
combined development and
produced the car, extending his
spears represent the strictness, and
presentation along the length of
practice to using ‘one shot’ enamel
discipline of traditional culture,
the Danube River. The project took
sign writing techniques, playing
which was implemented on the
photographs outside of a traditional
with nostalgic graphics from a
gallery context, showcasing
bygone era. Reko also undertook a
the work of renowned Magnum
trip to the Pilbara from Melbourne
photographer Inge Morath, inside a
so he could visit Roy Hill Station
converted 7.5T truck. The poignant
with an elder, and over three days
and elegant images that Claire
heard his stories of being on the
produced reveal her talent and
station. Ultimately, Reko also has
it’s no surprise she received a Prix
a personal connection with this
Pictet nomination (2012), and the
history through his Kamiliroi
Inge Morath Magnum Award. This
family in Victoria, demonstrating
project also demonstrated her
that the pastoral experience is not
alignment with Marlbatharndu
limited to Western Australia.
responding to new environments, having recently returned from undertaking the Danube Revisited – the Inge Morath Truck Project.
Wanggagu’s desire to reach beyond a typical gallery audience.
These divergent symbols are not seen in opposition, rather, as the title of the show references, Aboriginal people appropriated symbols of cowboy culture, to make it their own. Once Upon a Time in the West hints at the storytelling component of the project, yet, is also a reference to the Sergio Leone Western film that dramatizes a violent struggle over
Reko developed insignia featuring
natural resources in Sweetwater,
four symbols that connect with
a piece of land in the fictional
town of Flagstone, those familiar
in Port Hedland where many IBN
of backgrounds to congregate and
with land rights will recognize the
people live. The population that
through showing the work in a non-
composes Pilbara towns also
traditional context, we are hoping
reflects the station history; given
to engage and communicate with
that many people were forced
new audiences. Located across
off the land and into reserves,
multiple installations and sites,
then towns. Today, Aboriginal
the project will also be exhibited
people have been implicated in
in city galleries. Online platforms
supposedly nonviolent housing
will connect these varied sites,
policies, and developments,
and illuminate the histories that
which systematically dispossess
might otherwise be invisible
them through unaffordable
within the current local landscape.
housing, buyouts, and unjust
By looking to the web of past
evictions, creating crises and
interactions, histories, individuals
often homelessness. This is
and circumstances, perhaps the
fundamental to the problem of
present and the future can be
the Pilbaraâ€™s, and South Hedlandâ€™s
Exploring ideas of sovereignty, Reko picked up the reference people in the Pilbara made to pastoralists as squatters, and chose to use the didactic statement, Pastoralists = Squatters as a key message in his work. An unfair system of land ownership, which dispossessed Aboriginal people from their Country and ignored their occupation of the continent for thousands of years, also enabled land to be parceled and distributed for pastoralism. It was the Crown which allowed pastoralists to pay rent for the usage of land upon which they could build houses, businesses and generate wealth, which continues
future as an Aboriginal place: where government policy has driven people into homes that are away from home, with limited opportunity to own land.
The Pilbara with its intense history is a reflection of the contested landscapes where Aboriginal people have built their lives, created legacies and institutions,
through the current 99 year lease
South Hedland is where many
while struggling for their freedom.
agreements. Again, highlighting
Aboriginal people live, and is
This does not diminish the
issues connected with land
a place of protracted struggle.
significance of the Station, but
ownership, the neon Reko created,
There has been a collective
helps us properly examine the
Always was, always will be, reflects
erasure of the past in this town;
conditions under which Aboriginal
the intersection of land rights in
therefore the desire to re-assert
people existed. Family and country
Aboriginal history created the
provided freedom in a system
desire to find a location where
fundamentally unfree. It was
we could showcase the project
in these spaces that Aboriginal
and the general community
people have huddled together, to
could engage. With support from
protect and comfort each other.
management, the South Hedland
The qualities of storytelling,
Shopping Centre became a site for
humour, kinship, and institutions
the installation of paste ups and
have provided a way of expanding
photographs developed during
the possibilities of Aboriginal
the project. The site is a central
freedomâ€”and they continue to do
hub for community from a range
In the beginnings of pastoralism, the threat of, and real acts of violence were used to procure land. Property was violently claimed from indigenous people, who were effectively forced into a system of indentured labour to stay in their own home. This struggle for a place to reside appears to continue
Panorama of the Hamersley Ranges, photograph by Claire Martin, 2014
Aborigines Act 1905, Courtesy State Law Publisher, Government of Western Australia, Department of Premier and Cabinet
House girls, 1955, Life and Work on Roy Hill Station, State Library of Western Australia
Our Station Life
Stirrups, photograph by Claire Martin, 2014
Horses, 1955, Life and Work on Roy Hill Station, State Library of Western Australia
Yandicoogina David Stock, photograph by Claire Martin, 2014
David Stock My name is Yandycoogina David Stock. I was born first in July, 1934.
I was born in the bush on Roy
to go finish up in the other end of
Hill Station. My father comes
the paddock or other area, we have
from that side- Banyjima and my
to go, and get ‘em back. Mustering.
mother come from Newman way,
We used to go to Ethel Creek or
Nyiyaparli, work all their life in
Punda Station, see the brand and
Roy Hill Station and wherever
the ear mark, say, ‘this is Roy Hill
they went. All my life I’ve been
cattle’ and take ‘em back.
a stockman in Roy Hill and on Marillana, that’s one firm, one boss with two stations.
Two or three hundred men used to work on Roy Hill, with sheep and cattle. Ohhh a very big station.
If you got a good name on the
Sheep. Cattle. Separate. We used to
station, working for the squatters,
come back in March, put a shoe on
they tell ‘im, he’s a good stockman
horses and everything. Get ‘em all
or good worker in the station,
ready for mustering, and, right, we
everybody likes ‘im. If you not,
used to go out, cattle mustering.
well, they give you a bad name. If
Two or three months out in the
you had a fella who talks for his
bush. Same in the sheep camp.
right, he’d tell them what’s wrong and all this, in those days white people didn’t like that. They don’t want to be told off by a blackfella. If you talk out of place to the white people in the station they’ll sack you, just for no reason. All these white people are all in one, policeman, or welfare.
Maybe when we go back camp, we can do a little bit of corroboreeing. Corroboree good - we’d have a dance, old people have a dance, you know? Corroboree, just like you going to the disco - well that’s a white fella way, black fella: corroboreeing. Happy in the station. When we in the holiday
We’re not allowed to get into the
camp, we gotta stop twelve
kitchen. We put our plate in the
months, then we go Christmas
window, and a quartpot or mug,
time. Dump us anywhere down
whatever you got for your tea. They
the creek, we right. Two or three
gotta serve me and I go back to the
months we stop down there.
woodheap, have a feed, then I go to
Money part cuts out and we get
the stock yard, start workin’.
a ration. They feed us from the
I was breaking in horses and all these sorta things. We used to ear
station, make sure we not starving down there. It’s all right.
mark them and, put the brand on.
Sometime we used to do the
Of course, some of the cattle used
droving - mustering cattle to
Meekatharra from Roy Hill. Six
With sheep, they’d gather up all
I was with the people who used to
weeks on the road watching cattle.
the woolly sheep put ‘em all in
come to Roy Hill from the desert
Those days, you know, people
the paddock close to the shearing
working, get ‘em going. Some of
weren’t hurried to get there, no
sheds, when the shearing team
them couldn’t put a bridle on a
hurry and no time. You just go
comes along, they ready to start.
horse or a saddle, we gotta learn
along. Whenever you get there,
Yeah a busy time, you gotta get up
them properly, some of them was
you get there. A lot of people
in the morning, and let the shorn
good riders too. Really good riders!
used to drove their cattle from
sheep out, and bring the woolly
These people who come from the
other stations, all one way from
sheep in. And keep going like that,
desert they had to get learned for
Meekatharra on the stock roads.
tail ‘em and put an ear mark on
this money. “What’s this?” Those
We put ‘em in the yard and feed
‘em and all this.
desert people would ask. “That’s
‘em and wait for the train. We truck ‘em all up, send them to Midland Junction. Done, we gotta come back now. Straight home.
Money been put in the station by the government. Money was there, like what we getting now from our country – we get a roy-hill-
money” We tell them. “I dunno money!”They’s day. And they get a handful of notes, you know, and they nearly gonna chuck it away, “no that’s yours, you gotta
Terrible though, danger. You wheel
alty. But this one was different to
‘em cattle around now, bring ‘em
that one. You just put the money
back and quieten them down, they
there to pay all the workers. And
start ringing again and you start
the squatters they didn’t, they
talkin’ to them, or all these sorts of
just said, “Oh, just give them two
things. They settle down then. So
pound a week, that’s good enough
I got a motor car. T model Ford.
that’s in the cattle camp. And then
for black fellas.” And man that
Solid motor car, you hit a kangaroo
after that, cattle train took over
made this 1946 strike, Old Don
with that one, you kill ‘em. You
then. Sometimes they give you
McLeod, he was working at a
can’t dent the motor car though.
trouble, they rush. But it’s good
windmill man on Roy Hill. He was
We used to drive down to Roy Hill.
fun, long as you know what you
working things out, that’s what
Open picture in the flat, before
doing, you gotta be very careful
these blackfellas get, just a little bit
the TV come. Movies. Camp down
at night, don’t make a noise. One
of money – he’s trying to fight for
and have a weekend and come
man jump, that’s it. And you gotta
the blackfella now.
back next morning. Oooh, cowboy
give ‘em room, and before you go, they gotta ring around. Make a lot of dust. Yeah and the horse will be excited too, you gotta hang on or they leave you behind, ohhh. The horses they know what they doing, gotta hang on! Ohhh! But that was nothing to us, only a bit of fun.
Those days, people wasn’t worried about big money, ‘cause you don’t know the big money, we never
buy this one”, we explain to ‘em. Fair enough we didn’t rob them you know, we wasn’t that sort of people.
pictures, all those sort of things. The boss used to get ‘em, every two weeks.
thought, oh, when I get my big
I’m a gymkhana man myself.
money I’m going to get a motor
Every station used to bring their
car. That’s not in us! We’re not
horse. Minderoo and somewhere
worrying about motor car or big
else, and, everywhere. We used to
money. As long as we got a little bit
run it on Minderoo station. They
of money we were satisfied.
put six riders. Line ups, soon as
a flag goes down, we gone. The
these things. Jump on a horse, very
can’t do anything, cause we’ll go
first man finish his six posts, all
quick, whoever is down there first
with him too, we’ll get the sack for
in the drum, he’s the winner. He
is a winner.
Well, working in the station was
I go back to Roy Hill. I used to work
alright, course we never used to go
for them in Millstream before they
anywhere. At holiday time we go
come. And I work for ‘em there,
and see our families, or they come
on Millstream Station. And after
up. And if the family come up
a while they bought Roy Hill then,
while we working in the station the
they all come there. I feel good
boss bloke would hunt ‘em away.
when I go back to Roy Hill. You
“Who is that bloke come? Last
know? Make you feel good. Well,
night” They’d question us. “That’s
that’s my own country, that’s
my uncle”, we’d tell ‘im. ‘Well tell
where I come from. Feel so much
‘im to keep goin, he’s eating our
better, you know? In the bush. Oh,
worker’s feed,” boss would say. We
made us feel good.
gets his blue ribbon, on the horse. “What this for?” I ask. “Oh, you a winner. First class,” they would say. “Ohhh, very good, sounds good …” They have a flag race, every man rider’s gonna pick up a stick and put it back in the drum. First man standing in a drum is the winner. Then another game was the pig melon race and all these sort of things. You pick up a pig melon, six of them again. All
Ethel Creek Homestead, 1922, Courtesy State Library of Western Australia
David Cox on his porch at Bellary, photograph by Claire Martin, 2014
I’m David Cox; I was born in
that been doing it. There’s a
Rocklea station. My mother and
welfare office in Tom Price,
father was there, they belong
but I wouldn’t go there!
there. My mother and father they had their own wagon, they had their own horses - you know those days was very tough, but some Aboriginal people got around to make money.
My mother and father had their own horses, own cart, own big wagon - they were independent people. They were selling horses too, making us money, that’s the blackfella’s, they was cunning too.
We got up to late 50’s, still a little bit of money. Back in the 60’s, everything went backwards, no more jobs for the blackfellas. All finish up in the Onslow reserve. Sometime, we used to go cattle mustering, but when that finish we back in town, we had a very
People then, been doing that, or going out dogging or fencing. My father used to get around ten pound for five or six scalps, but that was lot of money then. I been dogging too. Shooting dingoes or I can set a trap to catch them. In those days two hundred pounds
hard time. I was a slave in the country. I was working for shirt, trousers, boots and hat, that’s all we used to get. No money.
was a lot of money you can buy a motorcar and you still had money in your pocket. Now, got two hundred dollars that money’s gone, that money never lasts.
We never been to school, some welfare people used to come there, taking all the kids but we were too cunning for them, we used to hide away, out in the bush. They took two kids from Rocklea never ever see them come back, never. But all the family used to sit down, waiting, might come back, but nothing, they both finished now. It left us crying, I cried for them, everybody cried for them; never ever see them come back. That’s the terrible thing was happening those days, the welfare the ones
Old Stan Dellaporte he trained my brother and the whitefella reckons that’s the smartest horseman they’ve ever seen. He raced in Onslow, and we had a country race in Boolaloo. He used to race all those horses in the cup and he used to win ‘em too. Win the cup. I had a couple of rides in the races, but I wasn’t good as him. My brother, was riding, Pine Prince, Warm Cloud, Old Bluebird from Minderoo, he used to ride all them horses in the cup.
Seed Star from Minderoo, two grey
do thirty or sixty posts, not me, I
moved me from the sheep camp
horse, they was station horses, he
did hundreds. It was all Aboriginal
to cattle camp. I see a motorcar
wasn’t getting paid, just ride all the
people you were working with, no
pull up, “what you looking at me
horses for fun, never get money,
money. When you go and ask for
for?” I asked. “We come to pick
just a little bit of dollars, that’s all,
money, they tell you go see the
you up?” They tell me. “Why?” I
give us a little bit of food.
wife. That was good enough, never
say. “They want you in the cattle
asked for any more.
camp? You’re the one who can
We used to go to town sometimes.
handle bulls,” they explain. Well, I
We’d tell the boss that we go
The Mulga tree, that’s good for
to town now, in two weeks,
fencing, but for training posts you
the policeman bring you back.
gotta get a black eyed tree. It would
Policeman come and ask, “how
take about three or four months
long you boys here?” “We here for
to build a stock yard, months after
In the cattle camp you got to
a couple of weeks,” we’d tell him.
months we been there, till it’s
handle all the bulls. Bulls are not
“Alright, After that, you gotta
to play around with, I used to pull
go,” he’d warn us. Just had a little bit of holiday, go out fishing. The policeman, he come and check that all them boys gone. If you got no job, he’s going to tell you, you’re going to jail, that happens to
We did have plenty of fun. I was King of the Gymkhana, so were all the Cox brothers. I used to win the hurdle, I had a good horse jumping over the hurdle, and the flank race.
wanted to stop in the sheep camp for a change, they said, no you’re wanted down there.
em down all the time, the bull was nothing to me, nothing to me, when I was young. But, now I look at the bull and think, oh, you can stop there.
We’ve only got the rodeo now. I
That was a good fun, I used to love
went to the rodeo in Marble Bar,
cattle mustering, but I wanted a
On the station I was riding a horse,
riding a big black horse, that horse
little bit of change, you know, I had
doing the windmill, going down
never shook me, he never chuck
no chance. We had to drive all the
the well, oh jeez, that’s a terrible
me off. My head spun right round,
job that, when you go down the
I was dizzy, but he had a job to
well, you look up, see all the heads
get me off. I used to watch them
of the snake, sticking out. Oh,
mob riding in Derby- good riders
that’s terrible! One man got to stop
been there. I went to Marble Bar,
on top, when you down the well
and thought I’m going to have a go
there, nobody’s allowed to have a
here, that horse never shifted me.
spanner or anything, that spanner drop on your head, and you’re a dead man.
I been learnt by the experts, old Dellaporte and old Mick Condon, they was my brother in laws, married to my sister. They were experienced man, champion horse breakers. I been to Roebourne I
At the station when you work,
went and saw the old Ngarluma
you go right up into the night,
mob breaking horses, by jeez.
ten o’clock, you might get caught
I used to like riding the horse, but
out there with a mob of sheep
not now. I used to chop posts, two
and lambs, it could be very slow,
hundred everyday, I was working
you know. But we used to like
five or six other men- they used to
riding. I remember when they
Oh Jeez, old Condon, they all been learn from each other, the experienced men. You gotta be careful to ride this horse, gotta be man, otherwise that horse
will kill you. We used to ride his
Some of them whitefellas good,
Owner was white man, they get all
horse, when you get off, don’t drop
some drunken whitefellas, some of
the blackfellas, slaves. By the way,
the reins otherwise you’re going
them slack, you gotta get up when
you get a whitefella you gotta pay
to walk. If that horse chuck you
they tell you to get up, otherwise
them, cunning, they know how
off when he buck, you’re walking
you get a boot, we went through
to make money. All the squatters
home. Dellaporte, old Condon,
all that, some of them good fellas
got rich from the Aborigines. They
and that old Ngarluma man, with
to work for, some of them bad. Flog
make millions of dollars from us.
their horses, they just drop the rein
you with a stock whip and all. I got
and the horse used to wait there.
flogged with a stock whip and all.
Blindfold the horse, ride it with
It was bad. When they tell you to
blindfold, when you sing out, look
do it, you’ve gotta do it. If you don’t
out, that horse going to buck, or it’s
you’ll get a hiding.
going to bolt.
I seen one very strong whitefella,
Bull is very dangerous, you gotta
very powerful for a white man,
know how to handle a bull. Mob of
Jack Harvey, I used to work for
bulls got out of the yard. One bull
him, I seen him lifting up a big
come up from the bush, come into
post, he used to lift it up put it
the yard, and he’s fighting the other
in, used to tell me sit down mate.
bulls inside, other bull took the
Black eyed tree very heavy you
gate, break one old cow in the hip,
know, nothing to him. Old Jack,
got out of the yard, where this bloke
lucky he wasn’t bad tempered,
he was a cool headed man. His
If you sing out to a bull, you send them mad, they going to chase you. A lot of people got killed with the bull, one blackfella, one whitefella, the horse slipped on the rock in the river, slippery rock with the shoes, with the bull behind him, when he got up the bull picked him up, put the horn straight through him. Year after, same place, whitefella got killed. Bull was behind him. Finished. Very dangerous, especially the big ones, when you see the bull shaking his head, go, don’t wait for
daughter there now, Wendy. Old Dellaporte, the boss just used to fly around in a plane. One time, back in the early days you gotta throw the bulls, cut the balls. You can’t get money for that bull. You gotta have two powerful man to pull him down, you gotta chase him along way though. You cut his balls, let him go then. Back in the 40’s and 50’s you gotta thrown them down in the yard, do him there in the yard. Some bulls good, some bulls bad.
him. Even in the motorcar! I’m not going to wait for them.
Boomerang by David Cox, Boomerang photograph by Claire Martin, 2014
Boolaloo, Reports on the station, 1893, Courtesy State Records of Western Australia 40
Stockman working from Life and work on Roy Hill Station, 1955, Courtesy of State Library of Western Australia
Jumbo Jumbo is a 97 year old Banjiuma elder
Jumbo, that’s my full name.
Jumbo: Tall boy, Digger, all them
Hamersley Station, born there,
and I went to Rocklea and, been reared up in Rocklea Station. Good station, sheep and cattle, two bosses there, Alder Smith, Len
Andrew Dowding: And what about your mum and dad, which stations did they grow up on?
Smith. Kooline, mustering sheep,
Jumbo: They grew up in the
bring the sheep into the shed, good
station, and bad, gotta work early
Andrew Dowding: Did you have
in the morning, little bit, get late,
brothers and sisters?
Jumbo: Yeah, but they are all
Riding a horse, mustering sheep, put it in the shed, pickin’ up sheep wool, class the wool, shearblade to shear the sheep, before the
finished. Andrew Dowding: And where were they born?
machine come. Bit hard work,
Jumbo: Born Hamersley Station,
pickin’ up the wool.
I been reared up Rocklea, very
Andrew Dowding: Any singing,
hard - hard station, have tucker
you guys used to sit around the fire
in the wood heap. You have your
tucker in the wood heap, not in the table at all.
Jumbo: Yeah, we used to do lots, yeah, singing the song. Old people
Andrew Dowding: And how did people feel about that? Jumbo: No good, isn’t it? Got to be treated good one working in-it. Andrew Dowding: How do you get to the station? How do you travel there? Jumbo: Ride a horse, horse and cart, no motorcar that time. Andrew Dowding: Do you remember the name of any horses?
Jackaroos mustering sheep on Nanutarra Station, Photo Courtesy State Library of Western Australia 45
used to sing, we used to dance.
Eileen James in her kitchen at Wakathuni, photograph by Claire Martin, 2014
Eileen James I was born in Rocklea Station, 1/1/1945.
My mum and dad was working- he
We went back to Boolaloo Station
was droving sheep by foot; they
after, worked there, Mum and
had a bush yard and things like
Dad, thatâ€™s the welfare nearly took
that. After there we went to Kooline
me away from my family, but my
Station and stayed there, thats
stepfather fight for me.
where I was reared up. At Kooline, been all around the river side, in a horse and cart and only come back to station when shearing start. Most of the life we done out in the bush, never been to school, trapping kangaroo, used to make a little trap by a wire where the kangaroos pad coming in to the water, catch it with wire. Sometime
Move another camp, go to another place, stay there, travel with a horse and cart. When we move, we pack and we go along. Sometime, walk along behind, picking up gums off the tree, putting them in the billycan. When it got hot, we got no shoes, we climb back in the cart.
my stepfather used to go out. We
When the shearing starting we all
had three kangaroo dogs. Skin all
go back to the station then, Step
the kangaroos and sell the skins,
Dad be working, Mum working,
go over to Kooline lead mine to
when the shearing finish, back
sell skins, just for some flour, tea
to the bush again. Thatâ€™s why we
and sugar. We lived out in the bush
never been to school.
most of the time.
They never used to get paid, all
We had to wire up under the tree
we used to sell is kangaroo skin to
for the pad coming down when the
that lead mine and we used to get
kangaroo come down, its got a loop
some tea, sugar and flour, jam and
in it, when the kangaroo goes in,
he jumps the wire, tighten up, go in the morning, kill the kangaroo or we got a dead kangaroo in there, carry him home, skin him then. Sometime we used to get kangaroos with three roo dogs. They used to skin it and take it out in the sun, let it dry out, sometime used to get 20 kangaroo skins, then take them all to the lead mine, sell them there, get a tea and sugar, big mob of stores and go back bush again.
When shearing finish, pick up and go out bush again. Sometimes stay in the station if the boss want to do some fencing, stay around, when the fencings finish we off back bush again.
We used to stop Mortimer Crossing.
The welfare were talking to my
Police camp, other one, sometimes
Mum and Dad and the bosses wife,
we made a camp in Mulung Pool,
they all said no.
not far from the lead mine, used to stay around there, live on fish and kangaroo.
I got married then, and went to work in Mount Stuart Station. For 13 years, me and my husband,
We used to run around, playing,
moved to Wyloo, worked there,
helping Dad and Mum making
moved to Ashburton, we worked
bough sheds up, go down fishing,
there, went back to Mount Stuart,
catch some fish for feed. Catfish,
we stayed there, went back to
big mob of catfish.
Nanutarra Station, last.
I still remember, every time
On the station we feel happy, stay
memories come back, we sit down
and working, I used to work in the
and talk about it. Me, Tadjee and KJ.
house, he used to go out mustering.
We used to go slide in the mud and
It was good, at Mount Stuart, when
all, chuck a water in the bank of
the boss and missus go away I look
the river, get up that side and slide
after the house, keep the garden.
down, used to be funny.
Well we used to plaster trough and
We moved around, went and
tanks, me and the missus, when
work in Boolaloo Station welfare
the trough got a hole in it, two
come along, tried to take me away.
ladies used to do it, me and the
That day I took off in to the bush,
the bosses missues said to me
Go back and cook, wash clothes,
stepfather “come back here, you’re not going anywhere”.
had to wash most of the missus clothes at the homestead and go
The missus argued with welfare,
back do my own after.
they fight for me that time, that’s
I had my kids, one out bush, rest
why I never went to school.
of them in hospital. My three girls
You know, these stolen kids, used
to be taken away, thats what they
We used to live in a little rough
wanted to do to me, my nephew
old house, a tin house. Just an old
got taken from Ashburton station,
wooden stove, that’s it. Got to cart
my other nephew got taken from
your wood, or you chop it yourself,
Kooline station they was going to
no boys around, they all out
take me away in Boolaloo station,
mustering, cook damper in a
but they never.
In those days you canâ€™t get air conditioner or anything, you had to make a spinifex bough shed. Spray the spinifex and its nice and cool inside. You put a netting around it first, you push all the spinifex between it, sometimes we used to run a little hose around it, drip it into the tap, keep it cool. We wear any sort of clothes, old clothes, you donâ€™t have to be dressed up, my Mum used to make they used to cut it up and make it, sew it by hand. Bosses used to order material, keep it in the store anytime if they want it, they get it given to them, they are workers, get it for free. I never got my pay, only husband used to get paid those days, not ladies, nothing, but we was working.
Camp Oven, photograph by Claire Martin , 2014
David Moses on Pipingarra Station, photograph by Claire Martin, 2014
David Moses “I had to pick up myself and say, “I have to do the right thing for myself. Nobody’s going to help me.”
My name is David Moses Martin, I come from Marble Bar. I was born on and grew up on a little station that they call Limestone. My Mother turned to drink at that time, and we were left with the grandmother and the grandfather, and we grew up with them. I was under the care of an old bloke named Lenny Stream. He was a quiet old fella, he wasn’t a bloke that growled or pushed you into things, “it’s there, you do it, you learn, you hear.” We went to Mount Brockman at the time, that’s alongside Hamersley Range, there was this stockman, Andrew Stewart, he wasn’t a learning man; he had a stand-over technique that he used. I used to be rough handled, in a hard way, it hurt a lot too. If I didn’t do the right thing he’d get behind me with the stock whip, and I’d get punched in the jaw, sometimes, when he could reach me. Some time I had three of four shirts on, and trousers. Most of the scars that I have on my forehead are from dirt when I fell on the rocks. He was never teaching properly. I don’t know what was his idea, it was strange to me, I thought when you get taught, you get taught proper way. One time he had a partner that went to sleep in the camp, and the horses ate all the flour, and I was watching what they call the coaches near the camp, waiting for smoke to flare up in the 51
distance and I got blamed for the horses eating the flour, he chased me with a motorcar, and I got on top of the hill and he shot over the top of me with a .22. It wasn’t my fault that I couldn’t be in two places at the same time. But it’s sad that he had to carry on the way he did, because a lot of us young fellas had been chased by him with a stock whip, and other boys had to run into a tree to avoid it all, so we made a little cubby house, and yeah, it’s a sad thing. I might have been eleven, twelve. Back a few years ago I went to see him, to tell him I forgive him for everything he’d done. It’s very hard, but when you look at the good things that happened, there were fun times. When they let me go with them and try to grab a young bull by the tail; that was fun and I was fit, you know, I could get away from all the cattle that would turn around on you. You’d number out all the trees that you could run to before that young bull would get you, or, one time we had, I think it was a young heifer, who was stirred up that much he had us all baled up, we didn’t even make it to the tree. If I could see I’d like to take you to the yard we built. When you’re out in a place like that you got to learn to work out how to get big posts, you had to work out yourself, because if you didn’t do it you’re gonna get a hiding anyway. We
found easy ways to get it on board with the trailer, using crowbars and ropes, just to get them onto the trailer that we had, and you’ve got to dig into the rocky hard ground, it’s a clay pan really, but we had to build a yard there. I come back to Hillside Station, and I was able to do things in my own way. I was kind of boss on me own there. I was allowed to drive tractor and trailer to pick up cattles. At the station, I was sixteen, seventeen, I done three years there. It’s on the side of a river, it was lovely place. I used to live in the quarters, near the garage. I would go shopping with the boss to get what I needed clothes and blankets, that was just sort of given to you as a present, as long as you do your work you get paid that way. It wasn’t much, ten dollars a week. That’s not much hey? But, he was a good old bloke. I got put on a horse out at Wadjanginya and I broke my left leg. I think the horse got wire tied up on his leg, I just found myself being booted by the horse, and I just wanted to save my head, I doubled up, and I could hear ‘click’, and my leg went, just smashed - a double kick too. They had no bitumen from there to the camp and they had to take me shortcut through the roughest road I ever went on, and this old bloke, he was hanging on to my leg trying to keep it still, but he was drunk, the more he was hanging onto my leg, he was hurting it. I’d scream, when we got
to the camp site, I thought the best thing to settle it was two bottle of whiskey, but it didn’t. I was still in pain. I worked Mount Brockman, that was my first one, and then Hillside was my second one. I went to Munda Station. It’s the bush life I think people like. You’d get different people there, and a lot of fun. But the worst thing was everybody had to leave the station to go into town, to drink their money. I did it too, you know, but that was the worst part of it in our life. But, we used to have fun on the gymkhana show, in what they call Coongan Station, you’d go and mix with people, and everybody would come from all areas of stations, with their good horses that they had. I used to listen to people putting requests on ABC radio, who’s singing who a love song. But, don’t ask me the name of those songs, I wouldn’t remember now. So many of them! But there were a lot of people, like Slim Dusty, Charlie Pride, and Dolly Parton, and, old Hank Williams. Not in the station but when I was at Marble Bar, they had a big dance hall, where everybody used to meet every races, and yeah they had a ball in the shearing shed, had some boys from Marble Bar play their instruments, a lot of them was good, but they’re too old to play now I suppose. It’s sad that, most of the stations are 52
closed and haven’t got places to go and work for the younger generation to teach them. Nothing out there for them. I learned a lot, in a way, even though I got no certificate for it, it’s all in the mind, it’s in your heart, what you learn, and you can learn to do all these things, and you can explain it to other people, but they wouldn’t even know what you’re talking about. It’s sad that, you have to put the pen and paper to show them what that means. When I turned thirty-five, I realized that I was going blind, but it was too late then. I thought to myself, “Well this is it. Can’t go back”. I thought about going back drinking and just waste away. “Nah, I’ve got a daughter”, I said, “I don’t want to show her that track.” She being eight years old when I did go blind, I had to pick up myself and say, “I have to do the right thing for myself. Nobody’s going to help me.” I started to memorise everything and that’s how I learned to live on my own. I got burnt a lot with my fingers, trying to cook. I learned to use the washing machine, but I can’t do gardening. I learned to live like I am now. I just praise the Lord too, because if I didn’t come to him, I wouldn’t be where I am now. Probably would have been back there still drinking, or probably dead. I reckon if I didn’t have the Lord I wouldn’t have stopped smoking and drinking, I wouldn’t have that willpower, only through God, Jesus Christ.
David Moses, near Pipingarra Station Water Tank, photograph by Claire Martin, 2014 53
Cowra Outcamp, Shearing Shed, Photograph by Claire Martin, 2014
Edward and Charlie Dhu at Cowra Outcamp, Mulga Downs Station, photograph by Claire Martin, 2014
Dhu Brothers You’d be battling to live off the land there now, with bush tucker- because it’s not there. The cattle, they ruin the Country, they destroy all the bush tucker.
Charlie Dhu: I’m Charlie Dhu, born
family, never met one, and they
and bred on Mulga Downs Station,
never ever came up to him, and he
never ever went back.
Edward Dhu: I’m the younger
Charlie Dhu: Most of the time
brother, Edward Dhu, born in
we weren’t allowed to go down
Port Hedland in 1947 at the Lock
and talk to the Aboriginal people
Hospital which used to be the
because Dad wouldn’t let us.
Aboriginal Hospital, we were never allowed to go the white people’s hospital. I spent the first six years of my life on Mulga Downs, at Cowra out camp before my father passed away and we had to move off there into Marble Bar.
Edward Dhu: That was a big thing to do with Native Affairs Department. They enforced that. They wanted to take our eldest sister Alice who was living in the Aboriginal camp with Mum at Mulga Downs before Dad came
Charlie Dhu: We grew up at
along, because the three eldest
Mulga Downs, we didn’t have any
didn’t belong to dad. Dad took
schooling. When we were school
Alice and Ned and Jack and put
age we were doing men’s work,
them in the name ‘Dhu’ and said
working like men, mustering, and
he’d grow them up as his own
children, and they would not be
Edward Dhu: Mum was born on Mulga Downs, and I believe our grandmother Daisy was born there also. Dad was born in Toodyay, and was a stockman on Mulga Downs. He had to tell the Native Welfare
associated. The police and the Native Affairs went out to Dad’s camp, wherever he was, out from Mulga Downs, and checked on the children a few times. My older brother remembers it all.
Department that all us children
Charle Dhu: Most of the time
would not be associated with the
we weren’t allowed to go down
and talk to the Aboriginal people
Andrew Dowding: So that sounds pretty hard for your mum. Edward Dhu: She lost her life and culture. That’s the bad part about it.
because dad wouldn’t let us. I remember that welfare used to come ‘round and we used to be hiding in the room. Edward Dhu: I think the thing dad
Charlie Dhu: I think Dad was a
did do wrong was promise he’d
black sheep in his family because
educate all the boys and the girls
we’ve never ever met any of his
in the English schooling language,
to read and write and everything,
windmills, fencing, mixing cement
but he failed to do that, he put
with a shovel.
them to work. But all the sisters could skin a sheep, no problem.
last too long. Edward Dhu: But she nearly
Edward Dhu: If I remember rightly
cooked everything in a camp oven,
we had one or two draft horses
in a mustering camp it used to be
Charlie Dhu: That’s what I say,
who used to pull the cart out to the
best under a tree anyway.
when we were school age we was
mustering camp, Clydesdales.
working like men. Cutting Mulga posts with axes, and next day we’d go out with a truck and load them on the truck and then space them
light the fire in that, when it all
of camels they had out at the
burned down, pull the coals out
and put the camp oven in with the
out on the fence line, then dig all
Edward Dhu: Flour, tea, and sugar,
the holes with a crowbar, clean the
and salt meat, and you’d have to
dirt out with a meat tin.
salt the meat because there were
Edward Dhu: Drill the holes with a brace and bit. Charlie Dhu: used the old brace and bit, boring holes in the fence post, running the wire through, the girls had to do that as well, our sisters too had to work like men. And well, we used to just work for tucker until we were old enough to claim wages, and then we were only getting a dollar a week for working from eight till dark. Edward Dhu: Ten bob, there was no dollars then! Charlie Dhu: We were out working, seven days a week, from daylight to dark, we’d leave the house at dark and come home dark, whatever we were doing. Chasing horses round the horse paddocks three o’clock in the morning, in the dark. The mustering and shearing time was in the cool weather, in the hot weather we did fixing
Charlie Dhu: She’d dig holes, and
Charlie Dhu: Yeah, a couple
bread. We still eat kangaroo now - well you’ve got to for the price of meat here! You’d be battling to live off the land there now, with bush tucker- because it’s not there. The
Charlie Dhu: We had an old meat
cattle, they ruin the Country, they
safe with a hessian bag around it.
destroy all the bush tucker.
Put the meat, and whatever, butter, and had a square like a little tank on top with little holes in it, water dripping down the side to keep
Andrew Dowding: And how did you get those stores? How did you go and get the flour and all that?
cool when the wind blows. And
Charlie Dhu: From Mulga Downs
most of the time we didn’t have
Station. Came in on the truck from
butter, we used to spread mutton
Roebourne, we’d go into the station
fat on our bread and tomato sauce
which was about forty or fifty
miles from Cowra. Jimmy Tsaklos
Edward Dhu: That was it, put salt and pepper...
used to be there from Roebourne, he had to cart all the wool and that from Mulga Downs.
Charlie Dhu: And Mum, she would cook lovely bread, in a big camp oven, she had two camp ovens, one big one and one smaller one, and the bread used to come out
Charlie Dhu: You know the Country looks totally different, the Country changes after all those years. Doesn’t look like it used to.
with a brown crust right around
Andrew Dowding: What else has
it, you know? Oh, beautiful, you
spread butter on the hot bread and get into it. Tell you what those two camp oven loaves of bread didn’t
Edward Dhu: Well, there used to be a big crab hole where mum used to do the washing...
Charle Dhu: with the old washing
used to work at Wittenoom. And
board, all the kids, get a mob of
he’d come out sometimes on a
kids to wash, plus the old man
weekend. Town was in full swing.
and herself … You couldn’t drink
We’d go and watch the pictures,
it, the water was salty. And we
now and then. I went to the
had to cart water from about a
pictures and I was walking home
mile and a half, where the good
to their place and I got chased by a
water was. And the old fellow had
big dog, I tell you what I got home
a big beautiful garden. He had
before the dog caught me. Yeah, we
all sorts of veggies, oh, a lovely
had an old pet dog there. Old sheep
garden, rockmelon, watermelon,
dog. It was good to see a sheep
big tomato, big cabbages, we used
dog working. Like, you’d only have
to eat everything raw, because we
to whistle if a sheep broke out of
had to cart water from that mill, to
the mob, that dog would round it
the homestead for drinking water.
up and bring it back into the mob.
And we had to do it the same when
And also herd them in when you’re
Charlie Dhu: Used to love cattle
the shearing team were there for
putting them in the yard. Saves a
mustering, yeah, nothing better.
lot of work when you’ve got a good
Like now they use helicopters and
motorcars and motorbikes, but we
Sharmila Wood: What kind of work were your sisters doing
Andrew Dowding: And what about
breaking horses, have you guys
Charlie Dhu: They used to do the
had to any of that work?
same as us, you know, fencing.
Charlie Dhu: Yeah, we broke in
If all the boys were out fixing
some horses there, yeah. Me and
windmills or doing fencing out in
me brother Don. He was a good
the bush and the girls were home,
rider. A good buck jumper.
they’d go out and get a killer, or kill a sheep. The whole family was hard workers; there was no
out Warragine there was two Aboriginal boys there, Bull Runner, and Max Gardner, they were good to watch. They’d get them big scrub bulls, some of those bulls at Warragine there was fifteen or sixteen bulls in one mob. And these two blokes they used to throw them, grab them by the head. Just go right up to that bull, jump off the horse, grab the bull by the head and twist him.
used to horses in them days. It’s a lot of fun. Get a mob of boys, you know? Edward Dhu: Yeah, I had a couple of real good Aboriginal boys on De Grey. Number Two they call him and Tommy Clark, Captain Williams, Bully Williams, Charlie Coppin, and Felix Stewart. I was
good buck jumper?
only about seventeen, when you’re
Charlie Dhu: Well when a horse
Because you know we were made
bucks, you know? You get on a
young horse and he’ll buck. But
Edward Dhu: When I was
Andrew Dowding: So what is a
freeloading amongst our mob.
Andrew Dowding: Did you ever go
boss. Oh, it was a good life, hard but.
one thing you got to do as soon as he chuck you off you got to get on straight away, otherwise he know
Charlie Dhu: We’d go into
he got your bluff. If you don’t get
Wittenoom now and then, because
on, keep getting on when you get
we had a brother Jack and he
chucked off, he knows you’re the
with them and in the camp it’s all just laughter and jokes, they’re all fun and, if you do the wrong thing they don’t give you a clip under the ears, they’ll tell you how to do it properly and, I learned a lot off those people. Steven Stewart is a real gentleman and so was old Left Hand Jimmy. Always laughing and smiling they were.
Charlie Dhu: Yeah, he’d show you
Warralong, Coongan, which
the racecourse. We used to bring
the ropes. If you’re a good learner
was okay, old Peter Miller was a
three horses in and we did alright.
you learn quick, if you’re slow,well
manager at Coongan and he’s still
First Marble Bar Cup I was in I
it could be dangerous.
alive in Port Hedland, him and
came second, and in 1967 I think
his wife Glynnis, they were nice
I won it on a horse called Saint
people. On the other stations, all
Christopher. For Warralong. But
us people, Aboriginals, we ate
them were the days, and Marble
aside from the manager and the
Bar used to be a two-day meeting,
white stockmen, but with Peter
a Saturday and a Monday, and I
Miller, no, we all ate as one, with
think the week after used to be the
him and his wife, it was good,
Port Hedland races, cup. And the
gymkhana, so you’d look forward
Edward Dhu: Oh, I suppose it could be. I used to hate the horsetailing part of it, when we’re in the mustering camp because when it was your turn to horse-tail, you’d have to listen half the night where that horse is with the bell on, so you knew which direction to go in the morning. All you’d have is a
Andrew Dowding: What do you
bridle, you’d walk out and they’d
miss most about those days, the
all be hobbled up, so you’d track
the horse down and about four o’clock in the morning he’d stop, the bell would stop, and you had to go and find the direction. Charlie Dhu: Some of those bush birds, they call them bell birds? You could get fooled by them, they sound like a horse bell!
CD: Well, you know, it was so free in them days. You could do
to all them, and Coongan used to have a gymkhana. They were just really good times. Andrew Dowding: Yeah what were those like?
anything, go anywhere. Yeah, a
Edward Dhu: Oh they were
brilliant, you have to train your
Edward Dhu: Yeah, I really enjoyed the station life, the fun and I don’t know, maybe just the riding of the horses and things like that, I
horse of course, the bending race going throughout these flags and all that. There was all sorts of things we had, we had bloody apple and spoon, where you’d have
Edward Dhu: Then you got a horse,
don’t really know. We used to look
you put a bridle on one, and hobble
forward to the Marble Bar Cup. I
the rest and rode one back there
was fortunate enough to be light
Charle Dhu: Apple in a bucket of
back, brought all the horses back
enough to ride the race horses.
to the rest of the musterers. And
They were station horses, everyone
that was pitch black when you
used to bring horses in from the
used to have to walk out there.
station then, in them days…
Well it was freezing cold, you’re walking out through the scrub, the spinifex.
Charlie Dhu: He never won a race but.
to get the.....
Edward Dhu: Apple in a bucket of water, and you’d have to get that apple out, with your mouth … Charlie Dhu: And a coin in a plate of flour. You’d have to jump off
Edward Dhu: I won the Marble
your horse, and you’re not allowed
Bar cup, thank you, in 1967!
to use your hand, and you had to
Edward Dhu: I worked on
Yeah, so we’d bring our horses
try to get that apple floating in the
Warralong, I had four years on
in and put them down there by
water. And then of course, your
Charlie Dhu: Yeah, you take turns.
mouth, first was all wet with water
Charlie Dhu: Poor old Aboriginal
Edward Dhu: The boys weren’t
and then you’d have to blow the
fellas like us, you’d just get a tin
allowed to go, but mum, myself,
flour down and find the coin and
of meat, but the whitefellas would
Florrie and May I think flew in the
then you’d have the flour all over
win a bridle or a saddle.
plane from Wittenoom came to
your face, dough all over your face. Edward Dhu: Then you’d have a race called a rescue race, you’d have this bloke standing over up there about two hundred metres
Sharmila Wood: So when did you move off Cowra? Edward Dhu: Just before Christmas
Port Hedland for the funeral. Charlie Dhu: Yeah, the manager on the station wouldn’t let us go out. Andrew Dowding: Do you know
why? Did he say why?
away so you’d gallop up to him
Charlie Dhu: Old dad got sick, he
and he’d jump up behind you, and
had a crook heart, and we drove
Charlie Dhu: No. Well he was hard.
half the horses didn’t like anyone
him into Mulga Downs one night,
When we moved back to Marble
behind, and they’d buck. It was
of course, they had the Flying
Bar, me and me brother got a job
all great fun. Everybody enjoyed
Doctors and he went to Hedland on
at Limestone Station, worked there
it. And the other, you had no boot
the plane, and he was there for a
for a while, he stayed and I left and
or saddle, so you’d gallop on the
couple of weeks. They said he was
got a job on the Comet Mine, gold
horse bareback and you’d have to
going to come home, and then the
mine. Working underground and
pull up, put your boots and saddle
next day they said he was gone,
that. Bogging, doing shovel work
on him and gallop to the winning
he passed away. And when the
all day. I worked at the Comet for
post. You’d have colours. That
old fella passed away, mum didn’t
about six, seven months, and then
belonged to the station not me, I
want to stay there any more, you
I got sick of that I went back to the
couldn’t afford it. But they bought
know? Packed up all this gear, and
station- Hillside Station, Bamboo
silks and boots and colours, and a
the kids, we moved to Marble Bar
Springs and Bonney Downs, and
skull cap. It felt really good when
in late 1952.
had four years on Muccan. The
you won the Cup. Just got out on
Andrew Dowding: So did you
the racetrack with the horse and
get to go and put him to rest
had your photo taken and that.
Cowra Outcamp, Shearing Shed, Photograph by Claire Martin, 2014
Map of station boundaries, Warralong and Coongan, Courtesy State Records of Western Australia
I was born in Bonney Downs,
my daughter, you learn to do
and after when I get grow up my
something,” she tell me.
parents took me to Marillana Station. My dad worked on Roy Hill, where that red top is... after that we moved to Bamboo Spring. We stayed in Bamboo, long, long time.
We never used to get a lot of money I tell you, might be ten shilling, two bob, stingy with the money, all them governments, you know. Boss call out, “You fellas want a money?” “Yeah!” We’d be
We were treated very rough, no anything, sometimes my mum used to sew the clothes, and mend the clothes. My father was a stockman,breaking in horse, and mum used to work in the kitchen. I never see any old lady work here now, finish.
singin’ out. We were working in the Marillana for about two and a half years. And when the holiday comes, we go to Punda Station. All the family was in Punda, all the Nyiyaparli mob, my uncle, my cousin brothers, my mali (Grandfather). We stayed
My parents used to be really good,
in that place until anot her work
my mum would work for the mithy
come up. Sometime the boss come
(white woman) ironing, mixin’
from Roy Hill- Barrumbanha, oh
bread, makin’ the bread for the
nice place, water everywhere. All
whitefellas, ‘cause the white fellas
that flood come down you know?
don’t want damper or something, they want a bread.
We just stop in Marlba’s camp... very rough. We used to have a
She used to go riding too on the
little tin house, go there inside,
horse, taught me to ride. “Don’t
make a fire outside and cook a
take our daughter in a horse,
feed there. We used to have old
he might buck jump show or
beds. Sometimes we get up at six
something, you know?”Dad used to
o’clock work right up to night-time
tell ‘im. “No, he right, he’ll learn,”
and we go back to the camp, wash
my mum would say. I would put
the clothes, we had no washing
the saddle on the horse’s back,
machine, only hand wash.
shake the saddlecloth, jump in the horse. But mum don’t like riding you know, she like to stop at home- very nice lady, my old mum. I used to help her sometime with her work. “Don’t be a lazy mongrel, Bonney Downs Station woolshed, 1922, Courtesy State Library of Western Australia 67
I remember one Chinaman, he come from Nullagine, he kill an Aboriginal woman, he kill it and he run away from when he been kill it, and everybody track him where he went. He used to go breeding all
the kids, every place. Come there, they put him in jail then, in with all those big bull ants. They put a chain over him and he got bitey everywhere, everything went full up. Another story I tell you, we had a Father Brian, who was on that road going to Hedland, you know, White Spring? That’s where the Father used to be, getting all the girls taking them into that school place, he took me there, only for one week. “Oh come on, don’t want him to go to Moore River,” Mum and dad used to say. And you know what happened? My Mum and Dad said we’ve gotta go and ask the boss from Bamboo Spring, we gotta go and ask him for three horse. Then, they took me away, gold hunting, oh, they like the gold hunting and we get some gold. They used to chop it up with a little tommy hawk, and sell a little bit in Nullagine. Old people they liked travelling around in the bush didn’t like to just stop on the station at holiday time.
Shearing Shed, from Life and Work on Roy Hill Station, 1955, Courtesy, State Library of Western Australia
Tommie with horse named The Brewer, Minderoo Station, around 1914, Forrest Family and Minderoo Station, Courtesy State Library of Western Australia
Donkeys towing Georgeâ€™s car, Chalba Chalba crossing on the way to Carnarvon, around 1914, Forrest Family and Minderoo Station, Courtesy State Library of Western Australia
Gladys Tucker “My Aboriginal name is Waru and I’m a Banyjima.”
I was born in the country where that
speared on his thigh. I would walk
big hill is, near Auski. It’s actually
lot in Banjiyma country, even right
a longer name, Warrugardtha, but
up to the top, Juna Downs, that’s
they cut it short to Waru. I was
where my great, great grandfather,
born 1948, down in the out camp.
Willyamara, Bob Tucker, been
My dad was working in the station,
born, around eighteen-something.
mum was a cook helping with the
I grew up in Mulga Downs
musterers; she’d be working on the
Station, used to run around when
house too at Mulga Downs Station.
I was little. My Dad, he tell us
My grandmother used to look after
to stop with our Aunty, Elsie,
me when mum and dad worked.
Gumbangudda who bake bread
When I was little, I used to talk in
for the squatters in the station.
the Yinhawangka language, but I
One part of it we was staying at
never grab it. My grandfather was
Wundumurra, on the road going to
Jacob Tucker, my dad’s father.
Witteoom, where the tank is, we
I remember someone telling me a story about my grandparents, how they used to walk from Mulga Downs right up to Juna Downs on foot, they go across the Karijini path, this is where my grandparents used to walk.
used to stay there with the sheep and all that. We had a little bit of a holiday there, near the creek. Old people used to build their own bough sheds, and kids we used to build our own, little playhouse. It’s still standing there.
They used to walk a country mile.
Old people used to dance at Mulga
Along the way they lost a son, a
Downs, sit down there, listen to
baby, I don’t know what happened,
the singing, I wish I could learn,
something might have bit him,
but I could never pick it up. It was
I don’t know, when they was
exciting, they even dress up as a
chopping the honey, Jandaru.
bugada (devil). They would wear a
They used to go droving a sulky going to White Spring, go visit
mask- used to frighten us! We’d be hiding under the blanket.
the family there too- used to
When I got married, me and my
tell me lots of stories about my
husband used to go on all the
grandparents, my grandfathers
stations. When they wanted a
brother, Tommy Tucker, he been
hand, you know, we used to go.
spear my cousin-sister, she might
I met my husband when he was
have tried to run away. They call
staying in Coolawanya Station, my
him Marnbu-na- that means he got
Dad was boss for him.
Windmill at Minderoo Station Homestead, 1914 or 1915 Courtesy State Library of Western Australia 75
He was a handsome man, too. I was still going to school then. My Dad give me away to him because
a lot of things, look for some fruit,
Jack Smith, Bullawalu they used
white one, collect those ones, fill
to call him, Marshall’s Dad, they
the tin up.
was little then. My husband was helping the old fella. He was the
he was a Banjiyma man, keep it in
When I was staying in Coolawanya
the Banjiyma. That’s how the lore
I was running around with my
and culture was, give me a way to
husband to be, I had to go to High
School then, to Perth, Apple Cross.
I used to work in the house,
It was good, but we only stayed
watering the garden and the
for a little while because they
lawns, work in the kitchen. It was
found out I was waiting for my
a sheep station then, he used to
first baby, sent me back, I had to
work for Richardson, he’s still
stay in Roebourne. I went to work
I was happy, full of laughter, me and my sister used to go to Coolawanya shed looking for the ashes to make a burlgu. One part of it we seen a kangaroo eating away, me and my sister, Marnmu tried to sneak on him but when we come close he was blind, that kangaroo. We got to leave him alone, poor thing. Coolawanya was a lovely place, peace and quiet, no fighting. It was a stone house, with showers, bathroom, toilet was out of tin and we used to boil the water and put it in the bucket, because there was only cold water. Dad took us to Roebourne to put us in school. Dad was working for Tsaklos
at Cooya Pooya Station, washing clothes, maybe doing the ironing. I was self, then, I wasn’t with my husband to be, he was somewhere else.
offsider for him, mustering cattle, you know.
When we used to go mustering, I used to be the cook, I had to get up early, 4’oclock, make a fire, get things ready, make the lunch, bake bread in the camp oven. I only
I get up in the morning, might
had one child, that first born one.
be set the table for breakfast,
We used to stop self when all the
wash the dishes in the kitchen,
boys gone, I didn’t get frightened or
do the kitchen work. Sweep the
anything like that.
verandahs. In my free time, went down, did a bit of fishing, down the river. I didn’t know my grandmother was born, around there, only knew after.
I used to live alone when we went to work in Mindaroo, that’s the scariest place going. Bugarda’s (devils) travel down the river because of the juna-nulli, they
driving the truck up and down to
I only stayed for a little while,
travel down that road, maybe
Wittenoom. We used to travel in
went back and stayed in the camp
looking for somebody. I used to
the truck, the trailer was empty,
with my baby. I was staying in the
stop their self, I used to get up
go to Mulga Downs for a holiday,
hostel, then, with my little one.
in the tank, sit up there, wait till
come back on top of the asbestos.
I got married there, they had to
dark. My old husband knock off
We didn’t know it was dangerous.
ring up to him, find out where he
in the dark- me and my little one
is, have to look after me and my
When it was holidays we’d go back to the station with our aunties and uncle, I used to have my
son. I had a photo back there, my daughter’s got it.
They got the biggest yard going, I had to rake up the leaves. I used
best friend, Mavis Pat at Mount
We got married, went out bush,
to help the ladies washing their
Florence, Yidayena. We used to do
he used to work for that old fella,
clothes, watering the gardens.
We went to Onslow then, stay at
I used to love working on the
the reserve, but we used to live
stations, and I been working in
out in the open, we had no houses,
Uralla station for the Pattersons.
lived in the sand hill but it was
Ironing, set the table for them,
lovely, anyway, sometimes we used
wash their clothes. We get a ration
to live in the tent. We used to work
at Uralla station; you have to cross that Ashburton River.
Marshall Smithâ€™s Saddle, photograph by Claire Martin, 2014
I’m Kathleen Hubert. I was born
Traveled to Marillana Station,
on Rocklea Station. I worked as a
stayed there with my stepfather
kitchen girl, washing dishes.
(Scotty Black) who was a windmill
My mum and dad was working
man, he used to do everything.
there, they used to work for Jack
I didn’t have a husband back then,
Edney, with cattle, breaking horses.
I was a young girl. My sister had
I was a young girl then, I used to stay round there, working. All the young girls, washing up dishes, me and my sisters… sister Lena and sister Charlotte, but they finished now. All the families were around there, Maggie Bimba, David Cox
a husband, my brother in law, old Dudley, he was a Nyiyaparli man. He used to be a cattle man, mustering cattle. They used to be breaking horse and breaking calf, branding the calf, they used to do a lot of jobs.
mother - old Daisy Cox, a lot of old
I used to help them breaking in
people been working there.
horses and branding the cow and
For fun we went fishing, in Ashburton Downs too. Kangarooing with a kangaroo dogs, he chase em, till he catch the kangaroo. I used to use kangaroo
calf, it was very easy, my brother in law learn me. He tell me a lot of things. Used to get chased by the bull, but used to get away, the horses used to pull up too fast.
dogs. Once I was learning my
I got married to the truck driver,
brother’s dog, he would run, chase
my old husband, Stanley Hubert. I
the kangaroo half way, then let
was living in Onslow then. I went
him go, so I grabbed a big stick, hit
back to work in the station, Mulga
him with the stick and he learned
Downs, Mount Florence, Mount
to chase the kangaroo then.
Stuart, Nanutarra. I used to like all
We used to live in the house with
the places, Marillana, Roy Hill.
old Delaporte, live in his house.
On Marillana Station policeman
He used to tell my mum and
took my little brother, my mum
dad to live in his house, nice and
and me were pulling him by one
quiet. We moved around to other
arm, policeman pulling the other
stations. We went to Murrimamba
arm, my mum went mad crying
near Hamersley Station, Jack
and us sisters were sitting crying
Edney’s station. I’ve been helping
my mother do washing for Jack Edney, wash his clothes, lot of things. Marlba’s was there, big mob.
It was good mustering bullock – my kids know too, because they went mustering.
I had to stop night watch, on the
something. We used to watch the
Iâ€™m old now, when I was young
back of the horse. The horses used
cattle properly, go around, riding
I used to like doing these things.
to be good, not running away or
the horse, right around them.
Good life, station.
Off to Maroo. Bill, May, Unknown, and Tommie around 1914, Forrest Family and Minderoo Station, Courtesy State Library of Western Australia
I don’t really know where I was
The old people that’s resting in
born. I think 1992 I first applied
peace now… They taught me
for my birth certificate, and I only
things, how to live off the bush.
got it this year. My mum said it’s in
How to dig a soak. How you can
the Jullaru country on Ashburton
walk around and track a goanna.
Downs Station, she always told me
How you can tell when it’s a fresh
that, every time we were there…
track. What birds are related to
she showed me, she said that’s
you and what birds you’re not
where the plane come and pick
allowed to touch. They’d tell me,
her up. She was taken to the old
come here nurdun (little girl). And
Onslow Hospital. But when I asked
they tell you ‘dig there’. And you
for it there’s no registration of me,
get a stick to dig with first, and
whatsoever. I did not exist, ‘till
then you dig it with your hand.
1992. Then I registered as Nancy
And we call that jirdinba – soak,
they know this is a good place to
It was a good life in the station – on Ashburton Downs. I really hated going back to school! When I got sent to Derby I was always homesick. And I was always bitter about this native welfare…I was
dig a soak. When you get all that knowledge and old people been teach you, it stays in your head. I just learned faster, when they taught me in language, than I did learning to read and write.
always feeling sorry for myself,
Well, my mum was a cook on
I was one kid that always was
Ashburton Downs Station. Old
homesick wherever I went…
wooden stove. She used to cook
so homesick that I used to try
for Billy Hughes and the two
and play up. Never do anything
daughters, Tessa and Diana and
in the classroom, muck around
Les hills, I can remember that.
in the classroom. Talk language
We used to have supper there in
so I can get kicked out. And of
the house, in the homestead with
course they were strict that year. I
Billy Hughes and the managers. I
wasn’t allowed to speak one word
used to go down there, big table
of language, but I used to do it
outside where we’d sit, and they’d
anyway. I hated old Don Turner’s
sit in the dining room. They were
truck coming to pick me up, to take
separated from us but Diana and
me back ‘cause my mum and dad
Tessa used to still look after me
didn’t have a car. Mum would jump
too. They were a long way older
on the mail truck, come to pick us
than me, Diana and Tessa.
up, and go back out on the station. Spinifex, Photograph by Claire Martin, 2014
My old uncle, my dad’s cousin, old
song. That’s from my dad, Juju, he
Where my Mum’s buried now,
Frank, he was a blind old man but
provided for me, gave me food, he
by a nice river spot, we used to
he was the wood chopper, and he
fed me, and he healed me because
walk there on a Sunday. That’s a
used to chop all the wood, pile ‘em
he was a good Mabarngarda
long walk! But it was nothing, it’s
up neatly, and drag ‘em, put ‘em in
coming home, was the hard one!
the bag, drag ‘em, with his guiding stick, put ‘em all there, pile ‘em up there for Mum, just outside of the kitchen, and Mum would get up
He done a lot in the station. Bring in sheeps. Muster the sheeps, branding horses, feed the horses
We just wanted to stay out in the bush and never wanted to walk back.
and all of that. When we’d go to
Coroborree, we used to have a
Ashburton Downs on the riverbed,
dance…we put paint on, white
mum used to show me where my
ochre and red ochre. We used to
Actually I had two old people that
dad had dug a soak to make a
have it at night. We never used
I spent a lot of time learning with.
trench for more than fifty head of
to have it in the day. Moonlight
My grandmother, my Yindjibarndi
horses. He come to the riverbed,
dancing. Mum was a good
grandmother, Alec Tucker’s
it was so dry. But him being so
dancer herself. My old dad, well,
Gunthai, my Garbali, I call her
clever, he got the water and the
he was giving me that name
Garbali and she was blind. The
Bimbaluranha along with that
in the morning, go and do all that cooking.
twenty-eight parrot, was forbidden for me to touch so she used to make mum ging it in the pool, pluck it, and then she used to cook it in the ashes. She know exactly how many there of the parrots are there, because I used to sit next to her as a little girl, trying to steal one and looking at her. But, she used to know, straight away. Soon as she feels that bird move, I used to get that walking stick of hers right on my hand…or I used to get pinched on the ears! My dad was a head stockman, my old dad. I got two fathers. One, my old juju father, he give me his name. He give me Bimpalura and my name Nancy Tommy, that’s a whitefella’s name. But my name is
Every Sunday, mum get a day off, we’d go walkabout, all day long. We’d go looking for wild onion. I call it bardingnya, wild potato,
song, my mum had to dance while I sat on his knee when he was singing, and they told me that story, and I used to love it so much.
wirra, berries…or sometime when
Mum was a good dancer and a
it’s yam season, with the palms
good singer for our songs, whereas
of the yam. Dig all that up. Oh, I
me, I couldn’t sing at all, couldn’t
lived on that! I was taught how
even sing Twinkle, Twinkle Little
to cook that too, in the ground…
Star! I got no tune. And oh she
everything in the ground anyway!
sang, my nana! My nana composed
We’d go to the riverbed, just sit in
her songs too, like when the twins
the sand and make a fire there, if
was born, she was in Minderoo…
we are fishing for catfish, onto the
or Glenflorrie station and in her
coal it goes, straight away.
dream she heard that mum was
My Nana used to have a white flour bag with that Dingo brand and sometimes she used to make herself a skirt with it. Sew the skirt with it.
getting picked up by the Royal Flying Doctor plane to go to Roebourne… she knew she was going to be a grandmother for twins, just through the dream, through that song.
Bimpalura; that name come with a
I worked on a mustering camp,
The rest of the afternoon I’m gone
to accept my family tree, how
gotta get up around five. I still get
- hunting for goanna. We clean up
to follow that line. But I became
up at that time in the morning
very quick in mustering camp, you
an alcoholic. I think I drank
now…gotta start boiling the billy.
don’t have to worry about mopping
too much because I was always
Out on the ground in the tents…
up, you just do the dishes!
homesick and I found I lost a lot…
you gotta get up, make a fire, and then put all the billycans on. Put the camp oven on, clean up quickly and make the damper for the supper or even make the bread in the camp oven, get all that done.
I will always call Ashburton Downs Station my home. I think getting taught by my old people made me strong in my wiribda, my heart, that knowledge of how
the knowledge them old people gave me, that’s gone, and you can’t bring it back…I mean, we got nothing now. We don’t have that freedom.
George Derschow at Pretty Pool, photograph by Claire Martin, 2014
George Derschow So what’s the secret to not getting chucked off a horse? Just hang on there!
My name’s George Derschow and I
We moved with old Jimmy Todd.
was born in Mulga Downs Station,
That’s what I can remember. He
Wittenoom, on twenty fifth of the
had an old motor car, moved
tenth, 1935. And this year I’ll be
us down to Meekatharra. And
seventy nine years old. My mother
somewhere from Marble Bar going
and grandmother, all the rest of
across there, a creek was running.
me brothers were born there, in
We was all packed on the motor
Mulga Downs. Mum doing station
car. So we all got off, and chucked
work, housekeeper, whatever. Mum
all these rocks in the back of the
and dad met at the station.
motor car to put more weight on
We left there in 1943 because mum being native and then dad German, he had to get out of the Pilbara, see? The other side of the twenty sixth parallel - the Japs and the Germans. So they shifted them down there, see? When we moved, mum was very quiet. She
so it can get across the creek. We travelled for two or three days I think, yeah. We arrived at Minara Station, this side of Meekatharra. And at that station it had apples and oranges and everything growing there, but I don’t know how long we stayed there, see?
didn’t smoke but she chewed the
We finished up down in Cue. Dad
Burlga they call it. At the stations
was with that labour party mob I
she wanted us to get it, so we used
think, and they used to work on
to go and burn a tree or something
that ochre mine out from there.
and then get all the white stuff
Because I was lighter skinned,
off and bring it back in those little
the welfare would come to Mulga
tobacco tins and give it to her.
Downs, they were being taking
Dad came out to Australia in 1902,I think he was walking around the world with a mate for two thousand pound. And when they
away left right, and centre, see? But down around Cue they didn’t worry, but we still weren’t allowed in town, up to six o’clock.
got to Sydney, they’d done four
I started work when I was say
thousand miles. And I don’t know
nine, ten years old, and then I was
what happened after that but he
working at that Wanarie Station
came this way because he was
near Cue, just opening gates, ten
working on luggers, he had a steam
shillings a week or something. I
ticket - he used to go out from
was there, might be until I was
Roebourne out to those islands and
thirteen, getting the brumbies out
at Cossack, see?
of the bush and that and breaking them in. We had to go and muster
horses. Took us a couple of days.
I had to ride one horse in the races
back to Magnet, for the week or
I was twelve years old, and
in Northhampton, because the
whatever it is, and go back again.
there was a bloke named Hardy
jockey couldn’t ride it, this horse
Moocher. Horse breaker. And we
keep going into the post rail all the
used to bring ‘em in, and some of
time. So I got on this horse and I
those horses used to gallop that
rode it around the station, got it
much, by the time we got ‘em to
going and racing and they raced
the yard, the older ones, we’d have
with it and it went alright, see?
to shoot ‘em because they couldn’t
There was one horse I loved, they
stand up. Then, he’d break ‘em in
call ‘im Duke, he was brumby, but
and I’d ride ‘em.
a small horse, and I used to ride
I remember all the boys were too frightened to get on this grey mare, and he said “George, you get on that horse”. I got on the horse there and rode it around. “Righto” he
him in the gymkhanas and down Geraldton, Northhampton, and you’d just sit on him and go ‘round the poles like this and everything.
We had this little Shetland pony
“we’re gonna meet in the middle of
there, they can buck those little
the paddock for lunch,” the normal
buggers. And anyway me brother
thing to do. We waited and waited
wanted it. ‘”Alright, if you can
there for him. And he was still
ride that horse you can have it”
leadin’ the bloody horse when he
the boss said. My brother got him
comes across the Windmill! Yeah!
outside and he didn’t know what to
He’s too frightened to get on the
do, horse chucked him off! He was
like a dog, he’d just sit there and
horses I have never been thrown off a horse. I got thrown off once,
a bastard of a job you know? The station life, because you never got very much and that and you weren’t allowed to eat with the white people. They had a little bit of a thing outside the window, even though your wife or whatever worked in the kitchen, you would not eat with the whites, you’d have to eat alone on or with the other natives. It wasn’t so bad on the station,
I liked that.
said “I’ll catch youse up”, and said
And in my lifetime of riding
When I was a teenager I thought it
if the sheep went out he’d just go around the sheep and bring them back in again.
you stayed with the natives, that’s all, you know. And you ate with them, all that kind of stuff, but, you wasn’t called a nigger or black, or all that. But the school was the worst one, “nigger nigger, pull the trigger, bang, bang, bang”. Call us niggers! And in Cue, because Saturday was rubbish day, we’d be down the rubbish dump eating old, the black lemons when they turned black and whatever scraps we could get. During those years,
but it was saddle and all, out in
I managed Linton Station, you’ve
we weren’t allowed to do this and
the bloody paddock. You’ve gotta
gotta look after the windmills and
that, but I appreciate everything,
make sure the saddle is tight and
all that kind of stuff. On top of the
all that. And some of them get a
hill, you can see the whales out
monkey strap to hang on, I never
there diving up. I just had me wife
had a monkey strap. I just get in
and two kids. The boss was one of
the saddle and that’s it, I hold on
the best bosses I come across and
when it was holidays or Christmas time, I’d take one of the motor cars Photograph of George with sheep on the station, Courtesy of George Derschow 86
June Injie in her garden at Bellary, photograph by Claire Martin, 2014
My full name’s June Injie. Mother
the only time we’d be near the
of six and grandmother of twelve. I
grandfather and fathers because
was born down the road, at a place
in those days the cattle was still a
called Boolaloo on the Nanutarra
bit wild. And they caused a lot of
Road, nearby to Boolaloo, is Duck
stampedes and a funny thing, my
Creek and Mount Stuart. My
two cousins, a brother and sister
brother’s born Mount Stuart and
were playing away from the camp,
we got our names from the hills on
and when we yelled to them “run!”
the stations. Our grandad gave us
When they saw the cattle coming
our names, we’re named after two
towards them, they just wrapped
hills, a brother and a sister they
themselves in this calico and
say, you know?
they’re layin’ down in the cattle
Dad was working before the time we came about, fixing windmills
stampede and I don’t know how it never trampled them.
and things like that, troughs
I was with my uncle and we saw
and sheep, everything that was
this big kangaroo, and they are
bad. And mum was doing the
saying, “if you haven’t got any
housework. We wasn’t long in one
bullets, don’t get off truck”, but he
place because of the jobs- we had
had one. Anyway, he thought “oh
to move a lot, you know? Mum and
it’ll go”, but the kangaroo grabbed
dad and nana they’d pack that
him, and struck him. And my
old truck up and my grandfather
uncle is a big, strong-built person
would bring his horse, you know?
you know? To see him get, grabbed
Horse, food, beds, old tent. Dad
by the kangaroo like that, well, it
used to tell us not to sit at the back
was funny. And he never tried that
of the truck because of the beds
again. This kangaroo was a big
and drums.When we’d get to the
young boomer or something.
station they give us an area where we could live. We’d have to stay about half a kilometre away from the station. We’d stay there for a couple of months, depends on the job, you know?
We went down with grandad to the river at Ashburton Downs while he was doing the windmill run. He goes around checking the windmills, and cleaning out the trough. And he said to us, “wait
In those three stations where we
here, I’m going down this way,
were born, they did the shearing,
don’t go to the other side of the
they’d let us visit the shed because
crossing.” ‘Cause the water was
one of us was mustering and they
flooding, you know? We call it
are bringing in the cattle, that’s
magarndu. When he was gone, my
sister said, “oh you two, you wait
Island Atomic testing. That came
nothin’ about that. And we thought
here, and you look after June, I’ll
out to where we was, atomic
it looked like a cyclone coming, you
go for a quick swim”. She jumped
testing. That was orders from the
know? But the cloud was thick and
on a tube that grandfather had
queen, eh? The queen’s mother.
black. And mum said, “no, don’t go
blown up, thought she’d go for a
And the French. And that’s where
outside and look”, but because we
swim and try the tube out. We was
I got my chronic illness from- it
had the old windows you know, we
standing on the bank screaming
was those bombs. They did two
can feel and see the smoke coming
and thinking that it was the last
atomic testings over in Onslow
through. Smoke around the house.
time we’d see her, but she’s a good
and we was told to block off any
And we got those big red sores on
swimmer so it was okay. Later
areas with blankets, wetting the
our legs, and that’s why people
on, she saved some boys from
blankets, we were still using those
like me, you know…well, we had a
drowning in Onslow.
blankets, you know? We’d wash
good life but no government people
‘em and thinking that, well mum
came out to the station to tell us
and dad, and nana thought they
and, those things we didn’t know
wouldn’t affect us. We wasn’t told,
In Mount Stuart, we saw the mushroom cloud, you know? The black smoke from the Montebello
Mulla, mulla, Pilbara, photograph by Claire Martin, 2014 90
Gathering of station hands and their families at Boolaloo Station, 1959, Courtesy State Library of Western Australia
Kathleen Johnny in Tom Price, photograph by Claire Martin, 2014
Where you was born Aunty?
there and I worked there, from
This interview takes place between Marianne Tucker and Kathleen Johnny.
My mother and father, my two
there I went to Mount Stuart,
brothers, look after the chooks- he
used to go look after the chooks. I
Started off in Wyloo, I been born
Where you been meet Uncle na?
What else did you get up to on the station?
used to steal the eggs when I was a kid. And, you know what, he
always used to come home then,
In Kooline Station?
he used to see my tracks, and he
Yeah. Mount Stuart, me and him was last, me and the husband, I sacked him there.
tell me, “aya, you know what you done?” And I said, “What dad?” “You been steal the egg, ay?” “No, not me,” I tell him. “Yeah, you
What sort of work you been doing
the one.” As soon as I said not
me- Bang! Kick and all. “You gotta
In the kitchen and all. Washing up, mopping up, putting the sprinkler in the lawn. Make me sick.
catch me.” I used to tell my father. “I’ll tell my mother on you.” “Go tell mum,” he tell him. “Of course I’ll tell him.” We don’t steal the egg,
How early you gotta get up Aunty?
we go steal the watermelon, who
5 o’clock in the morning. You
gonna catch us, down the river.
gotta whether you’re getting cold
I used to be an outlaw when I was
or not. Those days when I was
a kid. Always work, and go back
young. I done the same on all
home, lay back, start the wireless
the stations Mount Stuart, Cane
and go to sleep. All the white-
River, Ashburton, my father was
fellas talking, you know, inside
a gardener then, Ashburton, look
the wireless. Some time I put a
after the garden, my old dad.
cassette on, Slim Dusty, Charlie Pride and all that. I always sit down, and time comes, go to work, always go to work, white man always used to tell me now, “alright, knock off time, you can go back home now.” Always used to go back home, sit around, playing music, wireless. That’s all.
Susie Yuline with her grandchildren in South Hedland, photograph by Claire Martin, 2014 96
Gordon Yuline in his front yard at South Hedland, photograph by Claire Martin, 2014 97
Sandra Cox collecting junba on the Nanutarra Witenoom Road, photograph by Claire Martin, 2014
Sandra Cox My name is Sandra Cox. I’m from the Banyjima tribe.
My mum is Kathleen Johnny, also
the white kids used to find more
a Banyjima Elder. And my dad
eggs than the black kids, well the
was a Yinhawangka Elder, but he’s
black kids used to flog the white
passed on. My early memories
kids! …for their eggs, you know?
growing up, is of myself, my sister
And mum and them would wonder
who passed on, and my brother.
why these little white kids crying
My early childhood is growing up with my grandparents out on stations, moving from station to station, My old stepfather – ‘cause I grew up as a little girl acknowledging him as my dad –
all the time! But, yeah, we used to be friends with them, before that egg business, ‘cause they used to have jellybeans in those days too you know, for lollies?…and we used to play with them, go and hide ‘em.
my dad used to do a lot of cattle
When my parents used to finish
mustering and fencing. Mum
doing sheep mustering, we would
used to be the housemaid and
do fencing then. My uncle, he used
the musterer’s cook. Working in
to drive the ute, my dad in the
Mount Stuart station with one of
passenger seat, and me and mum
my mum’s other brother, we were
and my brothers and sister on the
doing fencing. Fencing, and they
back, we used to go out doing the
also did cattle mustering there as
fencing run and take our dinner
well, and sheep mustering first,
out, you know? Mum used to cook
‘cause that was a sheep station
all the johnny cakes and cook the
as well, and when they moved all
kangaroo meat there.
the sheep out it became a cattle station.
My uncle used to take his work boots off, and one particular day
With mum, she and my aunty, they
he took his boots off, and he laying
used to go up to the boss’s house
down, having a good old rest, and
and clean the main house there,
my little brother…he killed a big
do their washing, feed their little
lizard, well he never killed it, but
ones belonging to the boss. They
he made it go dizzy. He grabbed a
had chooks there, and the chooks
little piece of string, and he tied it
used to wander down to the river,
on my uncle’s toe. He was asleep,
‘cause there’s the river, side of the
he didn’t know this was happening
main station homestead. They
at that time, ‘cause he was so tired
used to tell us, “all you kids gotta
from working, you know? …being
go and looking for eggs now”, and
summer time. My brother tied
we used to have a race to see how
the lizard to his toe, and then my
much eggs we used to find. And if
uncle can feel it ‘cause it started
to come out of that dizziness, this
the camp, where all us blackfellas
One day, she tell me a yarn about
lizard. And, he’s thinkin’ “what’s
used to stop, it was not even an
how this welfare bloke walked into
this on my toe”, you know? And my
hour’s walk, you know? With all
the camp. They wasn’t expecting
dad’s lay down next to him, he’s
the old people were there in the
him,anyway, my mother had
snoring away. And then he opened
yard, branding cattle. We always
charcoal and she painted my aunty
his eye and he find this lizard!
used to say “whoa gee, lucky we
black, so then she couldn’t get
Ohhh! He kicked, didn’t he? But he
not a bullock, you know? To get
recognised. You see if they would
couldn’t get up and kick it off his
a brand on us?!” And all my little
have recognised her, she would
foot quick enough, because that
brothers, they used to sit up on top
have been gone - to a mission.
thing was still tied to his toe! And,
of the rails, and old people used to
he turn and he ask me and my
tell us “don’t sit up on the rails”,
sister “now who the bloody hell did
they used to get frightened those
that”? And we just pointed straight
bloody big bullocks with sharp
at [my brother] you know? ‘Cause
horns might get us.
we wasn’t going to get a hiding for him!
Welfare those days were very strict. And we got chucked into a hostel, started schoolin’, but holiday times was good, because then you’re still going back to
You know how they used to take
country, see? You going back to the
mardamarda (mixed) kids away
station life. When the holidays are
From Mount Stuart we moved to
from their mums? Welfare days?
finished it’s very hard to leave that
Wyloo then, mum and dad used
Well my aunty she’s mardamarda,
behind, you know? And saying,
to do cattle mustering and fix all
see? Her dad was a white fella.
having to say goodbye to my Nana
the windmills. Mum and my aunty
When my nana used to see
was the most hurtful thing.
used to be the housemaids, and we
welfare, the policeman coming
just walk down to the yard from
they used to take off into the river.
Tobacco Tin, Photograph by Claire Martin, 2014
Sheila Sampi in her garden, Port Hedland, photograph by Claire Martin, 2014
My name is Sheila Sampi. I born in
He been mustering around Anna
Marble Bar, Googaligong, that used
Plains, Canning Stock Road, my
to be the tin field, people used to
father, when he was young. Then
work there yandying for tin, that’s
when he had me baby, we took
where my mother come from, my
off this way. Well, that’s the story
father from Lombardina. He had
he was telling us. First, he had
two older brothers brought him
us out bush, he was working as
down here, he came to Marble Bar
a contractor building fences, and
and that’s where I was born in
sheep yards, and horse yards and
1943, during that World War.
we used to be kids.
When it was war time, things were
Then, when I was a baby, we
worse, starving- can’t get a feed.
had that white man who took us
My father took off during war time, he had to go somewhere he could work for money, he left his country to go to work and earn money, make proper money, to buy tucker and clothes, so we took off to Onslow, all of us, with him, through Roebourne, that was during war time. We wouldn’t have gotten through, because those days blackfella wasn’t allowed to go north, blackfella wasn’t allowed to go south, they had to have one white man, Pinky, with them, because that white man, the only one who could get them through. They had a rabbit proof fence up there; no one was allowed to pass
right through to Onslow. That’s where I grew up, all my life, in Onslow. From there we went onto Carnarvon, that’s where my sister was born. My mother used to yandy, she belong around here, Palyku, Nyiarparli. That’s why we’re here. My father learned all that reading and writing, a lot of people in Onslow know that, he used to talk that much politics. Well, my father used to work on station and things, he used to teach people how to read and write because he was well educated. My father opened Bindi Bindi and fight for Bindi Bindi, put up toilets and showers, houses for people to live there.
that; blackfellas from this side.
We used to learn from school of
People coming down from north
the air on the radio, that’s where
mustering cattle, my father used
we get our ABC from and all that.
to go up this side to the boundary
Teacher used to talk in the radio
and put the cattle through so the
from Perth. The boss come out and
people over the other side take
tell us, “The teacher be on the air,
over the cattle.
it’s a good time for you children to 103
get to a radio” and we start picking
Then, after that, when my Dad
sister. Dad told him, “fix that car
up from there. We used to have
opened a school in Onslow he put
up for me,” he used to be a bush
our little pens and pads. Sit down
my sister in a school and shift me
mechanic too my brother.
at the table, listen to the radio,
off to work, me and my brother,
to what she saying, how she’s
because we were old enough to
pronouncing and spelling.
work, that’s when we split up.
Sometimes I just used to leave my sister and go out playing, that used to be funny, she used to sing out, “Don’t you go, you got to come
He went working self, and I went working self on another station. Cleaning up and washing. I worked on nearly all the stations.
My brother can hear those boys laughing, they not far away from that shed. He just threw the spanner down, I told Mum, “look, look, he just chucked the spanner and took off to that yard.” They all start singing out for him, all
back here to listen to this teacher.”
My brother was the first one to
the other young fellas, “Ah! Here
When my sister was born, my
go, because he was nearly about
he come, George Sampi, he’s the
father came back, we went to work,
twenty, I think, when he met this
gamest one to jump on these
Urala station, long time back, in
bloke, Bob Payne on the station
wild horses they bringing up.” He
who asked him, “what about
just went up, “What you fella’s
you come with me I’ll teach you
frightened for this horse?” He just
everything I know.” He did learn
went and jumped on that wild
him everything, using whips,
horse. He was sitting down there
jumping on young horses, my
like a little chicken on the top, like
he’s on a rocking chair. We was
In the stations, we used to work hard, help our father. Still, I never realized my sister was already interested with that ABC, she was learning herself, so, every time she try teach me, I takes off
He got to be a real stockman,
somewhere else- come back again.
You don’t sit down and listen, “I can teach you me-self now.” “No, no, please leave me out, I tell ‘im.”
threw him, and he stayed with that horse, till the horse stopped still.
I remember…… all the other boys,
“Here boys you can have him now,
pushing and laughing each other to
I’m going back to fix the car, before
get on a wild horse, they were not
my father knock my block off.”
On the station, we do our School
game enough to saddle the horse.
of the Air first, about 9 o’clock,
But nobody was able to jump on it,
that lady talk to us, we stay home,
they was too frightened.
our father and mother go out on
laughing for him, that horse never
Anyway, he went out again, station, I used to knock around with my brother and his wife.
I was there with them; I followed
Again, the boys are telling me,
my brother most of the time
‘Hey, you want to see a trick?” I
because he had his wife. I used to
said, “What trick?” “Come here,
follow him cattle mustering and
we’ll show you what your brother
can do.” “Not my brother!” I start
can only see one standard, because
Dad told him to fix the car up
up an argument with them. “If he
they are all there straight.
for us. I was sitting down and
die I’ll shoot you fellas.” See, I got
watching them boys, me and
the gun in the jeep, I’m the driver
my Mum, and Winnie, my little
in the car for the cattle mustering.
the line, making fences, with a hammer and standard. My mother, she size it up keep it, “as straight as a needle”, she says. Every time we get back to look at the line, we
“What he can do?” I said. Then
him, too late, you know - a bull
When the boys go out mustering,
I went along, they got a big mob
shut his eye when he come to stab
all the lambs fall out, well, we
of cattle into this little flat. “Oh
you. My brother was already about
were behind in the car to pick
My God,” I don’t know what to do,
a half mile, this side, standing with
them up. Hold all the sheep in the
you know. I start asking his wife,
back, tie them up, until we get to
When I first started, I was only
the place where the other sheep
“What can we do?” Drive in, he might miss the horse. They tellin me, “you watch him, he’ll leave his horse on the flat and he’ll walk around, we want to get the bull out of the scrub.” With a bull, they run into a scrub, they stubborn, they won’t come out, you can chase them round, anywhere you like- they won’t come out. You got to be a man to get out in the flat for him. I said Oh My God, this is the way he’s going to get killed. I was standing by that motorcar, thinking I might have to pop the bull.
working for a tin of tobacco, clothes and shoes, that’s all. Some
water is. Sometimes mother and
of the station people were good,
father give you orders while you’re
some of them you had to face, they
having breakfast, from there,
would give us orders what to do,
you got to go and do it yourself.
well I didn’t like it. One morning
They give us a hand if they see us
I said, “You go out and do it your
struggling with it.
bloody self, I been working here
We do it all ourselves. It was a bit
two years, you do it yourself, you’re not paying, we get no money from you, I only get tucker, clothes, and hat.” He said, “Oh, yeah I’m sorry about that, it’s true what you’re saying.” And I said, “You can keep it, we’re off.” We used to take off,
They said, “Wait.” They go around
those days, just walking. Anybody
singing out, those boys around
would pick us up and take you
the bushes, trying to make the
where you want to go.
bull come out. My brother got off the horse; he started walking way from the horse, picking up stones and things. That’s the time, the bull look around, see him in the flat. He come out with his big horns, running for him, flat out, and that horse, he was standing up over there, as soon as that horse seen the bull, the horse come running up close to my brother.
are, we let them out, where the
hard working with some of those whitefellas, they used to be hard with us, sometimes they don’t want us to be gathered, they split us up, we wake up in the night, we go and chase each other in the night, talk up a yarn. They used to tell us, “Don’t you fellas talk to one another at night, you have a sleep.” But, we used to go out, still doing
My brother taught me how to drive,
it, we used to run around in the
even told me to jump on a horse,
back, sneak away from them, keep
and a motorbike, you know those
us in the house, camping inside of
Harley Davidsons. When I first
the shed in the yard, but we used
learnt to drive I never used to drive
to still take off.
in a flash car, I learned in an old, T model Ford, we used to call them gunbarr, they like big spiders, the way they move around. Then after that I drive a Chev 6, just a long tray in the back; we used to
And he run and in just one spring
just take off with them motorcars
from the ground he was on that
driving. We even driving a buggy,
horse, and that horse was gone
they used to drive a horse and cart
like a bullet. The bull come behind
those days. Go around mustering. 105
I used to make the table, set it up for them, make up the cup of tea, walk in to their bedroom, put it on the table. When I think back now, I used to feel like chucking water on them. I done all that. But, I loved the station because it was nice and quiet; I used to be a lot of the time by myself.
Sheila Sampi on her verndah with her two pet dogs, photograph by Claire Martin, 2014 107
Yanrey Homestead around 1915, from Forrest Family and Minderoo Station, Courtesy of State Library of Western Australia
Tadjee Limerick in Tom Price, photograph by Claire Martin, 2014
When I get married, I was in
river, they used to feed us, cook
Ashburton. My old husband used
to work there. From there we went to Red Hill, stay down there, old husband used to work there. And next minute we went to Yannery Station. Stop there. Working long time. And, after that we come back to Koordarrie Station, not far from Minderoo, stay ‘round there,
One day we get married, we was finished then. But they don’t want to go with the man. We were saying, “come on! Let’s run away down the river! Hide away!” I moved around on stations with my husband then.
working. That’s the last job for us.
Koodarrie Station we used to go.
No more jobs. We went to town
I used to drive the car when my
then. Onslow, stay in Onslow.
old husband was drunk. He used
We’d go sheep driving and we’d go camp, one night fill the tank up for the sheep. They was good. I never used to work. My husband used to work, that’s all. I used to cook for him. We used to go to town, shopping and come back with the boss. I think they all die now, poor things.
to be a mechanic for the car, he used to fix the cars for himself. He used to ride a horse. And he knows about the horse, he used to quiet it himself, really good, used to put the rope on his neck and hold it. Make him go‘round. And that horse, he know then, and they used to put the shoes on and saddle on ‘em. He’d be a quiet ride
I come to Koordarrie, and I find my friends there, Eileen and Kathleen and old girl who passed away. They all been reared up with me. We used to go looking for kangaroo, bring a kangaroo back. We used to steal a kangaroo dog and go! And the old people used to say “Ahhh! Those girls gone now, they’ve run away with the kangaroo dogs!” Well them kangaroo dog, he knows, we going kangarooing and they used to kill it for us. And they used to cry out, singing out for us. And we used to bring ‘em back. Back to the old ladies down the
then. That’s the last job for us. We was finished and we was going back to Onslow. Stay down there.
Stock Boys from Life and Work on Roy Hill Station, 1955, Courtesy State Library of Western Australia
My name is Hilda Flan but before
hill, Cloudbreak, and Christmas
I was married I was part of the
creek, that’s my grandmother’s
Yuline family. Gordon Yuline is
my big brother and there is Susie, and Richard. We are Nyiyaparli people. But I was born in Nyamal country along the Shaw River at Hillside station where a mine started; I grew up there in that country. When I grew up, I was helping my mum and dad. We used to work for our living, yandying tin and looking for minerals. But
I grew up on Hillside with my mum and dad working as a little girl, I remember the country, we used to go hunting around thr tin mine. We had a big camp and that’s where we lived, yandying tin. That’s why I know that country pretty well, because I grew up there at the Shaw river.
grandmother’s country is Roy Hill,
A yandy is a dish, well you get a
right up to Capricorn, Newman,
piece of iron, cut it round and that
and all round Warrawandu.
makes a yandy. We sometimes use
My mother told me about my
them today we go to marble bar
grandmother’s country so when
looking for gold. It was hard work
we grew up we knew where my
back in them days. You had to
grandmother’s country was.
separate the dirt from the tin, or
My grandfather was Nyamal, but
the mineral we were looking for.
we don’t go by the grandfather, he
We would sell it to the Johnston
was my step grandfather really, my
family, they used to come there to
real grandfather is a white man, a
the mine. We took the tin into the
German bloke, but we don’t count
shop, put it in a fruit jar, then they
that, we go by the tribal one. I was
weigh it in kilograms. We used
in Marble Bar, and grew up there in
to help mum and dad get a little
that country. Some time ago mum
bit of money for food and clothes;
and dad took me to Bonney Downs
those days were a bit hard. You
Station, I was working there in
got to have a little bit of money
the station, as a little girl, then
for living to help with the rations
at Warrie Station and Bamboo
through the minerals. The rations
Springs, before they closed that
was only a little bit, tin of sugar,
station. I remembered they told
and a government blanket which
us that this is Palyku country,
was enough to keep us warm, plus
our country is back there, that’s
a little bit of clothes, when we
where I know my grandmothers
Nyiyaparli country, all around Roy Stockyards from Life and Work on Roy Hill Station, 1955, Courtesy State Library of Western Australia 115
When I stopped in the tin mine,
remember it was seven dollars a
worked hard in the mine everyday
after all the stations stopped
week, I would put in a book how
looking for minerals. I used to work
we went back to Marble Bar and
much people were going to draw
too, make some extra money for
stayed there. I got married then, to
out or how much they put away.
lollies and a cool drink. Yandying
the father of my son. We stayed at Moolyella and did the same thing, tin mining, yandying and working.
We would get nice clothes that we’d order for men, women and children. We used to get material
is not easy, you have to get used to it. We have a spell if we get tired, you need to sit in the shade, have a cup of tea.
From Marble Bar, I went to
to make our own dresses or skirt.
Warralong, Strelley with the
We used to use a needle for hand
We looked for black tin, I showed
Don McLeod mob the Strikers,
sewing to make a dress.
my husband, and he got mad for
I was there with them. Then Don McLeod’s mob then bought the station at Strelley and they handled that station. Don McLeod used to run the station but he also had a few Aboriginal bosses, Toby Jones, Billy Thomas, Crow, that’s all the bosses, Old Jacob. I used to be a bookkeeper; I used to sign a cheque for people. I would put down in a book how much money people were going to get. I
I was a widow when I met David Stock, we met in Marble Bar, we went to Muccan Station, worked there. I used to be a cook for the boys when they were mustering. I would make bread or damper, kangaroo or sometimes sheep meat.
it, making money! In those days we got no car, we walked from the mine with that tin he had to carry it on the shoulder in a bag, put some in a bag and come back walking, that’s in Coogaligong and Spear hill. These places are right-out in the bush, then you got to come back into town to sell
I only went to stations lately
it. Nowadays we both got a car,
with my husband; I was a miner,
but no more minerals, no more
working in a mine. The station is
stations that’s all finished.
different see? My mum and dad
Horses, 1955 Life and Work on Roy Hill Station Courtesy State Library of Western Australia 116
Allie Parker, Rhondaâ€™s brother in Parabardoo, photograph by Claire Martin, 2014
My name is Rhonda Parker,
run, and they were sometimes on
my Mother was a Gurruma,
motorbikes. All the women used to
Yinhawangka and Banjima lady,
do the cooking, getting everything
my father was Wobby Parker, he’s
ready- especially a cup of tea! They
a Banjiyma man and my mother’s
used to sing. My mum never learnt
father was an Yinhawangka
to read or write, but she had a lot
man, his mother was a Banjiyma
We’d get a kangaroo, put it on the
I grew up in Wittenoom back in the
fire, for the turkey we’d pluck it,
1970’s with my mum, and we used
mum used to use a pillow case or
to go out to a lot of stations like
flour bag to put the turkey in and
Mulga Downs, Hamersley Station,
cook it. Gurumanthu,we’d get the
Rocklea, and Ashburton.
ngarlu out, get all the hard skin
Everyone got moved everywhere and we ended up around Karratha,
off, and put him in the ground, kangaroo tail the same.
Roebourne and when we lived
When we used to go out with my
in Wickham we’d go to Rocklea
grandparents pop Chubby Jones,
Station because we had a lot of
used to tell us about the names
family there. Back in the 90’s we
of windmills. They used to do
did a homeland movement with
the trough and we would help
my mum to Wakathuni, that’s why
to keep them clean. We used to
this is there today.
always pull up by the river, that’s
On the stations we used to help cooking dampers and everything else for the old people; they’d sit down, tell us about the land, who we are for the land, and show us how to dance. My big brother used to teach us how to saddle a horse,
where they did the storytelling, they would name the river and the hills- hills are the landmarks, they tell you which side are the boundaries for the countries, which tribe your next door neighbours, your kinship colour.
me and my sister we used to be
At Rocklea Station we used to go
go riding with our grandparents
to Sandy Creek all the time, that’s
around Rocklea Station.
where my nana Dora used to hang
My dad and big brother used to work on Mulga Downs station, it was a good time; we used to go shooting. The old people used to go out horse riding, do the windmill
out all the time, she used to make a soak all the time. We go back there now, it’s all sanded in, and it’s not there anymore. In those days, they never used
to work for money; it was only
to the Gillamia Native Hostel
would be dressed up, old people
tobacco, and flour. On Rocklea they
in Onslow Old Bob Hart used to
used to look smart all the time
used to send us to the main home-
collect us and take us out to the
with their boots and buckles on.
stead, to the lady of the house for
station. They used to do cattle
People were competing in the
stores. We used to drive the little
mustering then, my old brother
gymkhana, they had their sleeves
buggyâ€™s and take rations back to
lived on the land; he did a lot of
rolled up, it was all about who
the old people. One time we hit
work with his old people.
was the best stockman. My big
the biggest rock going, everything went everywhere, then we got told off. Old people used to growl at us, they never used to hit us though.
We used to go to races in Onslow, they used to come in from the station when its races time, or Gymkhana time. Thatâ€™s when we
We used to go with dad a lot to
used to see our parents because we
Ashburton Downs. When we went
used to be in the hostel. Everyone
brother used to talk about that all the time. He passed away not long ago. He used to dress up like a stockman all the time. He was so proud of himself.
Sheep in shed detail from Life and Work on Roy Hill Station, 1955, Courtesy State Library of Western Australia 120
My name is Elaine James. I’m
the fruits and things, if you’re
from Wakathuni, but I been born
hungry, there are wild potatoes,
in the station at a place called
we call it goolyu. There are fruits
Carters Creek, out from Kooline
like a banana that we call wirra
Station. My mum had me there. I
and little ones like jiburra, you
grew up on Kooline, and then Dad
can get them on the banks of the
had to work on another station,
Ashburton. We learn to talk the
Wyloo, so we moved. My sister
language - get full with it.
was born there and the other two as well, one in the old camp, one at the new camp. We stayed in tin houses, all of us workers - Dad and them, we used to get maybe ten shillings a week or something, and
We’d play around, grabbing lizards. But, I never used to eat them, but all the little ones would cook it like a gurdumanthu and eat them. They would put it in a tobacco tin.
we might get, flour and sugar and
Once I was digging a lizard hole or
tea. Tobacco. Little bit hard those
a spider hole, and Angie poked my
days, you know?
eye. That’s why I lose my eyesight,
When I grew up a little bit more, I went to school at the Gillamia Native Hostel, in Onslow. When
I had to go to Perth and I just remember that I had a false eye then.
I finished school I had to work in
I used to know all the fishing
the station, to earn my own living.
spots in Ashburton, right along
I was getting paid twelve dollars
to Kooline, and at Wyloo the river
a week. But it was alright, just
is way down... a long way from
enough for my bit of clothing. My
the station but we used to still go
mum used to know how to sew
there, with the old Toyotas and
dresses, we used to just get the
Jeeps from the station. My uncle
materials in the store and sew it up
used to drive the jeeps around,
at the bush.
and old dodge. We liked going in
My nana was teaching us, I used to be with her more than mum. I used to like it when they told me yarns, what they used to be doing. They would tell us to blow the water to let them know that you belong to that place. You would blow it from your mouth. We learnt what was good in the bush,
them old motorcars because we can sit in the side. We’d race with one another to open the gates, it used to be fun, and we would just jump straight off. The trucks used to take the gear up, the tucker and everything, but wool buggies they used to go mustering with the horses. So we used to run out of
tucker some of the time- the flour, but we would still live off the land. The bush tucker, fill us up; I’ve never been sick out in the bush. We used to dance. They’d let us kids have a dance first. We’d mix with the old people, with the grownups. We have a mixed dance. Then us kids stopped and let the men have a go, and the old woman’s. They had their own corroborrees. I got an old uncle from there, he used to rattle a boomerang all the time, early in the morning if we were still asleep, and in night time he’ll sing, Barlgabi Songs. He was a deadly old man. I used to play the button accordion. I used to play Slim Dusty music. If we hear it in the wireless we’d get very good at it. We used to order the accordion in from the station and they’d take money out and pay it out of our wages.David Smirk, he was our brother there, we used to race one another to get what song we could play better, me or him!
Living Quarters, from Life and Work on Roy Hill Station from Life and Work on Roy Hill Station, 1955, Courtesy, State Library of Western Australia
Marshall Smith on Mingullatharndo Community, photograph by Claire Martin, 2014
My name is Marshall Smith,
in those years. I think it was in
Aboriginal name Indabirnga-
1905 that they took up the station
ngardi. I was born near a windmill
lease. Dad was born on top of
called Metawandy on Wyloo
Mount Brockman hill at a spring
Station. My mum is Mirlyarranyba
named Bullurru. Like many of our
Banjiyma from Mount Bruce area
people who had white fathers he
and South East to Mount Robinson
was considered half caste. One of
and the Governor, my dad is
the things that happened in the
Gurruma from Mount Brockman
era, the old fellas (the husbands)
area, Southerly towards Paraburdu,
would use their wives to buy, or
Westerly to the Beasley river and
to make deals at the station, for
Easterly to the Minthaigorndi
food and this was accepted. That
River, a branch off the Thurriri
appears to be what happened with
Nana and Leonard. Of course there
My mum grew up mostly through the Parabardoo, Rocklea, and Juna Downs areas and later travelled with families along the Ashburton River visiting and working on
were times this was not okay… it is a tough history but I always say that it is good to know history but don’t dwell too long in it, look forward.
Kooline, Ashburton, Wyloo, Mount
We erected fences on Mount
Stuart and Boolaloo stations.
Stuart and Red Hill stations
Banjiyma people congregated at
during 1955-56’(these stations
Rocklea Station when this became
are alongside each other) and old
a pastoral lease in the early 1900’s,
grandpa Sandy and Nana Pidgey
together with the Yinhawangka
Hicks were with us, they normally
and the Gurrama.
resided at Hamersley station. We
They soon found that stations like Rocklea also could give them benefits such as knives, axes, rifles, tobacco …. the people also adapted very quickly to working on the stations as stockmen and stockwomen.
went to Juna Downs station in 1957, however nana and grandpa Hicks went back to Hamersley station. When we arrived at Juna Downs there was only the cow paddock there with a milking cow named Boza and her calf named. There were many wild horse herds
Dad’s father was an Englishman
in around Juna Downs known as
named Leonard Smith, who was
“brumbies”. My uncle Chubby Jones
the brother of Frederick Walter
was also my dad’s horse breaker,
Smith who owned Rocklea Station
so dad and the men trapped the
brumbies in water holes where
Mount Brockman at the time. In
When we lived out bush, my toys
they had built trap yards during
those days most stations around
were a shanghai (ging), a dog
the dry season, where there is
here used to be given credit by
named Gypsy, a little spear, a
minimum water. They also used to
Dalgetys because they were the
woomera, and the flat river stones
run them back to the homestead
main hardware agent in the
which I used as a motorcar. Pop
yard at other times and my mum
Pilbara and elsewhere. I was only
Sandy showed me how to throw a
used to ride and help the men on
about nine years old then.
spear and make the spear. I used
a small horse named “Queenie” that was bought from Turee Creek station in around 1955. They used two racehorses (Sapplejack, and Sunrise) to turn the wild brumbies because the brumbies could run into the mountainous areas in the wrong direction a lot quicker than the stockhorses. It was about around twenty-seven kilometres hard and fast gallop to Juna Downs homestead yards.
We had a three-and-a-half-tonne truck which was a Maple Leaf
bark is soft.
Chevrolet, that was our vehicle,
My brother and cousins showed
but dad was very strict in how
me how to make and use the
it was used because when you
shanghai. We didn’t need anything
bought a drum of fuel, the nearest
else. Television obviously wasn’t
point was to go back to the station
around so we didn’t know what the
and if you weren’t on the station
latest news was anyway. We did
you’d have a fair walk if you ran
have wirelesses (old radios) to keep
out of fuel. We never did, but it was
track of the weather.
never used frequently, only when it really was needed, for example,
We erected all of the original
to go and pick up food supplies or
fences on Juna Downs, the
the fencing supplies. We lived in
boundary, the lot. When we left
base camps, at these camps we
the station in about 1961 to go
had rain tents, my mother and
to Hamersley station, there were
all the ladies, they would all help
windmill water supplies and an
each other to build these as well as
adequate number of both cattle
bough shelters for summer cooling.
to spear gum trees because the
In the fencing camps we all chipped in to help with the work. I was seven years old and I used to dig my post holes up to my arm’s length and leave it for the older people to finish. Fencing came easily because family did it as a family thing. So mum and the ladies would run the wires through
In 1971, our parents got their
what was then the wooden post.
At that time Mount Brockman
first house in Roebourne, this
It was very hard work for them
Station (which is about fifty
gave my sisters and brothers the
because the holes were never
kilometres West of Hamersley
opportunity to attend school as
drilled straight in line with the
station) was going into receivership
well. Before that we had to board
fence direction, but they never had
to Dalgetys PTY, LTD and so dad
in the Government hostel, which
access to a good workshop with a
was given the contract by Dalgety’s
was built for children who had
drill press. So the men would stand
to do the final stock muster. This
parents out on stations.
with this brace and bit (manual
was in order for Dalgetys to get back as much of the money that they could after giving credit to Jack Edney, who was owner of
We would always hangout for school holidays because we could go back out bush again.
drill tool,) and they’d have a can of oil to dip the tip into the oil, then into the wood and drill for a little bit (manually turning the handle),
pull the bit out and they would dip
In those days parents like my
from his heels back to his head,
it constantly into the can of oil, in
father used to hand their sons
when he sits in the saddle, and
order to keep the auger bit cool. In
over to their nephews, my father
all he does is balance on the very
those days the station required the
gave Des over to brother Stan
central point of where the horse
fences to be erected with wooden
Dellaporte who was working on
is twisting. Some people say that
posts because they could not
Wyloo station and he trained Des
balance riders are better than grip
afford the steel pickets to put on
up as a stockman. Uncle David
riders, but I question that because
their fences. This meant using a
Cox had two brothers who were
I’ve seen a lot of grip riders riding
crow bar to dig the post-hole. There
renowned rough horse riders
and they can ride just as good.
is an easy way to use the crow bar
as well, my brother Des used to
A grip rider is one who squeezes
and a hard way. You dig the first
always talk about them, old Gilbert
with their knee and leg, and most
four to six inches making the post
Cox and Thomas Cox, well Gilbert
people get used to the grip riding
hole size, then dig the very centre
taught Des how to ride rough
because it’s part of them when
area of the hole a couple of inches,
they’re learning how to ride a
then break into that centre from the edges of that hole.
Anyway, this particular morning it was winter time and Uncle Gilbert
horse, because you tighten up all the time, but balance riders are not few and far between, but they are
I had the greatest opportunity to
was riding his rough horse to
learn as much as I could about
train. Everybody was given young
working with horses because many
horses to train. Uncle Gilbert had
The consequences of a balance
of my family members assisted
all these boils on his backside, and
rider is that when they get down to
me. My uncle, Chubby Jones,
the horse decided to buck, and his
about forty years old, their backs
cousin Churchill Jones’ father,
backside landed hard on the seat of
become painfully difficult, because
was also my trainer; he showed
the saddle and of course it burst all
what’s happened is the cantle,
me how to do the cantors and
the boils, he couldn’t hold on any
which is the rear part of the saddle
the gallops, with my brother Des,
more it was just like a hot iron on
seat will always hit up against
who’s passed on now. I idolised my
his backside, so he bailed off. And
their lower back, because they sit
brother and uncle because they
nobody wanted to ride the horse,
a lot straighter when riding rough
seemed to be so good at everything
but he knew brother Des could. So
stock. Whereas the grip rider,
when working with stock. He and
Des got on the horse and he rode it
works out with his leg where that
Uncle Chubby used to be the two
for uncle, Des was only 12 years of
horse is pivoting, and he doesn’t
that stood out when it came to
have to lay back a lot unless the
riding rough stock horses. So from the age of eight I wanted to be like them. They never seemed to fear anything, rough horses was their recreation, they competed to see who was going to ride the roughest horse.
When we talk about rough horse riders, there’s two types of rough riders, one’s called a Balance Rider, the other is called a Grip Rider, what happens with a balance rider
special in some ways.
horse is kicking high, if your horse is kicking high obviously you sit back more, but that’s only for that split second of course. That’s the difference.
is that he sits on the same type
Well, the unfortunate thing is
of saddle, but his body is straight
you’ve got to ride it out, or it
throws you, one or the other.
you over the saddle. But all that
galloping. Once they’re crossing
The standard rule my brother
kicks in because if you’ve done it
you’ll know that the beef is weary,
taught me… and he was very well
many times it doesn’t matter. It’s
but then you’ve gotta watch the
known, he was one man that rolled
all part of you anyway.
ears because the eyeball and the
a smoke on a bucking horse called Dingo in Hamersley Station, so that’s how much of a rider he was, but that’s another story… with a young horse the rules of getting on that fellow is very different to a rodeo. In the rodeo you’ve got him sittin’ in the chute, so he’s basically locked in and you come down on top of him. It’s a different story when he’s all saddled up and ready in a big yard because he can do what he likes.
Most Aboriginal stockmen, were natural horseman, not only riding the rough horse, they were natural with handling stock. They were natural with breaking horses. There were some who actually stood out because their job was to break many horses on the station, but in general, most everyone knew how to tame a horse, ride a horse, but there were those that excelled, and people like Uncle Thomas, Gilbert, Denis Ashburton,
But the first point is you grab his
Chubby Jones, Alec Tucker, the
head, pull his head right around to
Long brothers, David Stock, my
the mane, which is tight, and then,
brother Des, Uncle Johnson Hicks,
when you go to put your weight
Stan Dellaporte, dad and his
onto the stirrup, you generally step
brothers, Nicholas Cook’s father,
up onto that stirrup three times.
Uncle Chooky Dowden. They were
Third time you generally flip over.
all natural, but that’s just naming
You’ve gotta get him to feel your
a few in the area where my family
weight, and when the breaker’s
worked, there are many, many
broken him, he would have given
more I pay tribute too.
him that feeling anyway. But that third time when you swing over you’ve gotta make sure your right boot goes into the stirrup, but some riders are so good they don’t really worry about that other stirrup. I have to find that other stirrup! And then, you either grip or you balance, but then you obviously loosen the rein, because if you use it too tight it will pull
ear move together. So, you gotta watch that ear, to know whether it’s safe to jump off the horse while it’s looking at you or not. And you’re at full gallop – you train your horse to hit the breaks as soon as your weight shifts on the saddle, that’s part of the training on stock camps as well. When the horse hits the break, you jump off hitting the ground running, grab the hairy part of the lower tail, twist it once, around either your left or right hand depending on what you are. Once you’ve got that twisted, that’s your grip, you step out so that the beef will see you alongside of it and the beef will see you and try to turn around and hook you, that’s when he’s offbalance, then you pull him over. Right, once he’s down, you put the tail between his leg – the rear leg obviously - Pull it up on to his
A lot of those guys loved jumping
rump, put your knee onto his rump
off the horse and grabbing a bull
he can’t get up no matter how big
by the tail and pulling it over
the bull is, he won’t be able to get
to tie it down. The first thing to
up then you tie him.
remember with cattle – when chasing with a horse, you watch the hind legs… when the beef is fighting fit, the hind legs always drop parallel. First signs of tiredness are that the hind legs start dropping cross legged when
And the other method that the old fellas used to have, is what they call pulling ‘em down by the tail off the horse. Now that’s fine for that fella who is doing the pulling down, because all he has to do is
Marshall Smith on his horse at Mingullatharndo Community, photograph by Claire Martin, 2014 131
gallop up to the beef, grab that tail
the hobble, every time you stopped
remember. Each time they trod on
the same way with one hand this
somewhere. That was a full day’s
that reign, they thought they were
time, and make his horse gallop
work, but they’d remember that.
past him and pull it. The man
Each time they trod on that reign,
behind is the one whose gotta hit
they thought the hobble was on.
the ground to grab it and hold it down and tie it up. That was lots of fun, because sometimes the beef got up before the backup rider would grab them, all of a sudden you find yourself looking at his face coming at you, and then
My brother Des used to tell me, “the bull in the yard, you can trust;
I taught a horse to rear up when
if he turns on you and comes for
I made a certain sound and he
you just stand dead still, he won’t
became a faithful friend. I had
hit you”. Many times I saw him do
all the trust in him when doing
that. He would also say, “if you’re
musters, and never once did he
riding a horse and you run a wild
falter or let me down.
bull into the herd and he’s fresh and angry, and if he comes at you,
you’ve gotta find out how fast you
I began my training by tying
can run! I used to chase and tie
calves, when I was a teenager. I
my beef up using the method of
was always with old fellas at some
jumping off the horse and pulling
muster, I was probably ten, twelve,
the beef down on the ground and
mucking ‘round with young calves,
not depending on other riders
but it was safe. But, I didn’t start
to pull them down by the tail,
pulling bulls down until I was
while still riding the horse. If the
seventeen. I’d like to take my boys
beef got up and saw the man on
on one of those musters, just for
the ground, generally another
them to experience what it was
rider would be close by to ride in
like. We had pack horses which
between the beef and the man on
carried our supplies when we were
the ground and the beef would
moving camp, if we didn’t have a
always turn to chase the horse
vehicle or the area was too difficult
that is getting in its’ way or that
to use a vehicle, such as the Mount
rider would throw a hat at the beef
and it would try to hook the hat
You were given you own horse to
and gallop away.
and I was that dead scared that I
train, or a number of horses they
couldn’t even look at him coming.
You taught your own horses
called hacks, for your mustering,
There’s a point at which it is too
that you were given to train, or
so we had about four or five each.
late to run and I also went deaf, I
a number of horses they called
Some of the things you’d teach it to
couldn’t even hear the hoof beats,
them hacks – for your mustering.
do were to stand still by hobbling
that’s how frightened I was! I was
We had about four or five each.
it down, and bringing the reign
thinking where the hell’s this bull?
Some of the things you’d teach it
down to the hobble every time
When I looked, I saw him smelling
to do was stand still by hobbling
you stopped somewhere. That was
my right foot! I’m sure I had ten
it down, bring the reign down to
a full day’s work, but they would
years’ of life taken out of me; the
just hold the horse back and he won’t hit you, unless you move. If you move on that saddle, he’ll hit the horse”. I only did that once. I was just about seventeen years old... we ran a herd in, and this black looking thing was walkin’ around the herd, he’d had enough, he wanted to get out, my brother Des said “look out, he’s gonna line you up”. I had a beautiful horse, I could trust him…and all I did was tug on his reign asking him to stand still and I was sitting looking south, and I saw this thing just go into a ball. They are so fast
bull went back to the herd after
the hours would roughly drop,
I didn’t make much money but
that. I went over to my brother and
especially the Southern Cross,
I loved every day of it, helping
said, “I know it works but I’ll never
where it was moving. We used to
Dad to pay the debts as well, and
do that again.”
try and give the old fellas more
everybody had plenty to eat so we
of a rest, like my dad and Alex’s
were quite happy, it was great fun.
dad…all you did was walk in the
Every day something happened,
opposite direction to each other
especially with bulls…I certainly
around the sleeping herd. After
miss it, but it’s a passing era. I
midnight the cows generally want
loved pretty much everything;
to get up and have a feed, they get
there is nothing that I would
hungry quicker and so they’ll get
change if I went back into it again.
up, or try too, so you talk to them
I think I’d just live the same life.
or stay near them so they would
I enjoyed probably every day, and
camp down again. The worst ones
especially when I was a jackaroo.
were the cows and the steers. The
Now it’s pretty dull around the
bull he’d have a sleep, he’d be quite
place not getting chased by a bull
happy to lay there.
any more! Sometimes I wish you
I was involved with night watching. Night watches were generally used when droving cattle, and you had no yarding point, so everyone had turns pairing off in two’s depending on the size of the herd to do a night watch. It depends on the number of stockmen, as to how many, hour stints you’d do. The evening star was one that you watched. You watch the movement of the Milky Way, and they knew where
could turn that clock back a bit.
Marshall Smith, Mingullatharndo Community, proof sheet of photographs by Claire Martin, 2014
Adrian Reggie Condon with his grand-daughter at Bellary Spring, photograph by Claire Martin, 2014
Adrian Reggie Condon
My name is Adrian Reggie Condon,
I learned to ride a horse on a
born in Onslow, 1965… everyone
station called Kooline, I was sixteen
had to move to the coastal towns,
when I first learnt to ride a horse.
as there was no more work left on
I was always interested in riding
horses, so the old man asked me
My mum was a cleaner on the station and my dad was a drover. Before my dad met my mum he was a drover during World War II. They drove the cattle from the Pilbara, down the desert through the Canning Stock Route
if I wanted to get on a horse, yeah, no worries, then I got frightenedthe horse was that high. I can feel the heartbeat of the horse and that horse can feel my heartbeat. The horse can feel that I’m frightened so that horse panicked and
to Meekatharra. One crew would
knocked me off. I didn’t want to
meet up with another crew from
get back on the horse, but with a
up in the Kimberley, two crews
couple of slaps on the back, I got
would go down together, they
back on there.
met the Murchison mob, and
The old people were strict, very
they’d walk across to Meekatharra
hard. They told me to do it, if you
so they can put the cattle on the train, send them down to Fremantle where the cattle got put on the ships and over to blokes in the war.
don’t do it, get back there and do it again, if you don’t do it, go for a walk, if you get thrown off a horse, get back on, if you don’t get back on, go back and wash the dishes!
Everybody says my father was the greatest horseman going, that’s where I got started; I love horses as well. My dad and my mum used to travel around from station to station doing cattle mustering. They had a horse and cart- they’d travel all around the Pilbara.
It was a very hard life. I remember someone was riding a horse, just for fun, my grandfather told him you get off, put that saddle on your head and walk thirty kilometres. We learn that you never be cruel to the horse. If you were not treating the cattle right, you get in trouble
When my dad’s would take off
again. A lot of cattles, you take
droving cattle they left all the
them away from their country,
ladies at home. Then it was left up
they take the sulk in their heart,
to my mum and her sisters to take
they’ll sit down, they won’t move,
over the horse riding, to keep the
that’s where they’ll stay. You will
station running. They used to love
always break their spirit when you
take them away from the country.
You have to treat them right to get
On Mount Stuart during winter, we
them into the yard, and into the
got up with ice in the morning. We
had to walk the horse round and
Last time I was out on the station near Wakathuni, me and a bull had a disagreement in the yard, I wanted him to go somewhere he
round the fire till he get warm, but it was alright, but with cattle when they see you, you got to hope to hell you can stay on a horse.
didnâ€™t want to go, so I punched him
After a while it started being
in the ribs, he kicked me in my
seasonal work, it wasnâ€™t work
arm and broke it. So, fair, fair.
around the year.
Adrian Reggie Condon at Bellary Spring, photograph by Claire Martin, 2014 139
My name is Julie Walker and my
but you have to go right around
maiden name is Tommy. When
now, in those days it usually took
I was born in 1959 my mum was
us three days because we had the
actually working in Ashburton,
old Bedford truck then and we
they flew her to the Roebourne
would camp along the way from
Hospital because she was having
Ashburton to Tom Price.
twins. But my grandmother, who was working on Minderoo, her Aboriginal name was Nyneedee meaning singer (Maggie Bimba) already knew this was going to happen because she had a dream where this song came to her. At that time it was a bit unusual to have twins that survived.
Dad, his Aboriginal name is Nyimali (Yimalee) but he was known as Ashburton Tommy. He used to work for the well sinkers that put in the wells around Rocklea. On the map you’ll see there is a well spelt as Jupiter, you know, the planet? But the Aboriginal name is Juburrah,
My name is Walkayinya
which is, the name of a plant and
which means ‘belly button’ in
a spiritual place. A lot of the places
Yinhawangka and my brother’s
around there they got a connection
name, Pitithangu means dry leaf.
to us, and an Aboriginal name.
After mum had us we went to
Dad was a well sinker, and
Ashburton station, which is where
he helped Jack Harvey set up
I grew up. When we was about
Minner station, he did a lot of
five we was sent to Gilliamia
the windmills, at Ashburton and
Hostel, but we went home for the
Rocklea station, he did most of
school holidays. My mum also
them. He showed the pastoralists
worked around Ashburton, Mount
because when they first arrived,
Vernon, Pingandee, Milgun and
they didn’t know where the water
Mulgun. We used to go travel
was, or other resources. They used
down along the Meekatharra road,
dynamite to put up a windmill
and used to travel up and down to
and a water tank, in traditional
meeting places where people
Most of the time the welfare would
would get their water.
fly us to see her from Onslow to
On the Ashburton lease, mum
Minner station or to Paraburdoo
told me a story about a place there
airport. They would travel down
called Nymari Spring, now there is
the old road - Ashburton is only
a windmill and a tank, but there is
eighty kilometres on the old road,
a creation story.
Map of Ashburton showing the Native Well, Courtesy State Records of Western Australia 141
The little Nymari, which are
Bedford truck, my younger sister
the gate, knocked me down and
finches, used to be big birds
used to drive along the fence line,
took off. There was also a garage,
but they were mean with other
and he would go and walk every
and my brother got good with his
animals coming to get the water
now and then. About every half
mechanics because Les Hill would
so the Minkarla made them small
mile he would walk and pull the
take him there so he got used to
and said that they will never be too
wire through the fence and then
go fixing cars and things. They
far away from the water. So, if you
connect it and get me to spin it
used to do everything down on the
see Nymari, then you know water’s
on the spinning jenny. So, we just
station- you got to fix your own
not far away.”
spent our holidays doing this, we
cars and everything. Every Sunday
go all day till the sun went down.
we used to have ration day. When I
My old father took mum around
was little I thought the store house
and showed her where all the
When we were on Ashburton my
water places are, so she knows
old grandfather Joe Galby was kept
those windmills- most of them
down in the bough shed, a bit of a
are near a spring or a place
distance from the main house. He
At Ashburton what we had was
where there was always water. In
stayed in the bough shed which
really flash compared to what
1967 my old dad was granted an
we’d wet to keep him cool down
other people had in the stations,
exception under the NWA and was
there. I used to go down and take
cause we had hot water, taps and
eventually pensioned off, which
his supper. I remember when he
proper pumped water. We had a
was unusual in those days as
passed away, it was Christmas
proper shower, flushing toilets,
Aboriginal people didn’t have any
and we was getting’ ready for
and an old style hot water, system,
rights – that happened when he
Christmas dinner. This was the
with the wood. Compared to other
was about seventy-five years. We
only time we’d have golden syrup
stations Ashburton was long ways
then moved to the Onslow reserve.
and sultanas because that was
We used to live in a tent there,
the only sweet thing we had. I had
but he used to get a ration and
to go and take my grandfather’s
clothes as part of his pension. We
false teeth down. And then all of a
had a forty gallon drum in the tent
sudden I saw everybody rushing.
where he would put his rations in,
In those times people just got
people used to come there getting
buried where they passed away,
milk, sugar, tea and flour from us.
so we buried him in Ashburton
On the station we used to get up at four o’clock, we had the contract to do the fencing. And
Downs. He was a really good stockman, only a short man but he trained people how to ride horses.
was the best room, it was just full of food.
We grew up with my dad’s family, Frank they called him, was a woodchopper and his brother Henry was known as the Mount Vernon Stockman. Wood chopper was blind he would follow the pipeline from the Aboriginal camp to the main station homestead, chop the wood for the station owners and do the same for us.
at that time we were replacing
I remember there was a goat shed,
Every Sunday us kids, mum and
the wooden fence and poles with
I used to have to go and feed the
our aunties would go down the
the standards. My old uncle dad
goats. I didn’t like that ‘cause one
rubbish dump and have a look
Chuckeye Smith used to get me on
of them was really cheeky. The
around for bottles. I used to
the spinning jenny. We were in the
goat bumped me; it got out of
collect bottles because we never
had dolls and that’s how I cut my
some stones in the old Bedford
Wooldamunda, towards Pingandee
forehead because I was nursing a
truck and I went back to collect
and Top Camp, Marribah, in a
bottle. I slipped and fell, this was
them, I found my mum, aunty and
thunder storm. In the thunder
at Ashburton Downs, and this all
everyone in a circle crying for us,
storm the lightning strikes and
healed up by my aunty who used
that made me really sad.
his horse is bleeding, it’s all in
sweet potato peel; you boil it up and use it like a band-aid.
My mum stayed working on the station right up to 1974; she was
blackness and in the lightening flash he can see blood pouring, yet he still finds his way home.
My old aunty used to also collect
doing just about everything – a
coloured rocks. I used to collect
domestic cook, but mustering
He was saying y’know the country
them actually, she sent me out to
too. She told me about the first
has taken him because he can’t
the river, to get ‘em and she used
time they was using nylon rope,
see, it’s the dark, and all the rivers
to polish it with sheep fat. She had
because they never used that.
are starting to fill, to swell up and
all these things as her ornaments,
Mum had her finger ripped off
the flood is coming down. But he’s
and there was also a five gallon
when it got tangled up when she
travelling back, so I thought he
drum of sheep fat in her little
was roping the calf, and when the
must have had a really good horse.
house, but not much furniture.
calf bolted it got taken off, this was
They used sheep fat for everything,
at Pingandee station.
bread and puddings and stews; sheep fat went into everything. Sometimes they’d get things from the rubbish, old cupboards, but most of the time they put all their things it in those old little hessian bags.
My family was on stations for close to two hundred years. We go back
My Mum’s got a song about
to Ashburton every year for my old
that place on Ashburton called
grandfather’s anniversary, since he
Gobawarrah. She’d talk about
passed away in sixty five. He’s got
when they had the first plane
his own grave in the willow and
muster, and made a song about
he’s got a little fence around his
it. The woodchopper got a song
grave site, it’s a nice little spot with
I like about riding on horseback,
bush bananas growing there.
When we’d go back to school at
and it’s dark in the thunderstorm
the holidays, us kids would always
and when the lightning flashed, he
be really upset, but all our family
can see the blood pouring off the
would tell us that we had to go
horse. He talks about going back to
back. I remember once I had left
his country from Mount Elephant,
Corunna Downs 1906, Aboriginal shearing team, Photo courtesy of the author
Pastoral Paternalism in the Pilbara By Mary Anne Jebb AIATSIS Research Fellow. Mary Anne is a historian whose PhD integrated oral historical and ethnographic research methods with written documentary textual analysis to uncover histories of a region of Australia where few people recorded their experiences in writing. It was published as Blood, Sweat and Welfare in 2002, for which it received the Keith Hancock History Award. She has held academic lecturing and research positions at Murdoch University, Notre Dame (Fremantle), the University of Western Australia and the Australian National University.
While pastoral bosses differed
and allowed free pasturage
in their treatment of Pilbara
for their stock for the term of
Aboriginal people, there is one
twelve months from the date
thing they had in common from
of arrival therein, within which
the 1860s to the 1960s; they
time they may select runs not
all held localised power over
exceeding 100,000 acres for one
Aboriginal people far greater than
establishment, which they may
other employers. For many years
enjoy for three years, free of rent.’1
pastoralists saw themselves and the government saw them as owning ‘their’ Aboriginal people. Aboriginal people held some of their own power, even if it was for many years under duress. They knew the country intimately and became expert in the pastoral industry, and essential to the success of a pastoral venture.
These arrangements resulted in groups of lease holders combining to form huge pastoral runs of over a million acres including hundreds of miles of river frontages and water courses. In the 1880s and later, land acts and lease regulations were altered to allow leases of 50 years and eventually 99 years to 2015. The regulations
This paternalistic relationship
provided for Aboriginal people to
developed early in the Pilbara,
have access to the leases for their
supported by the Masters and
traditional hunting purposes,
Servants Act, land acts and
although access clauses were
pastoral lease regulations, and by
amended in the 1930s to only
the edifice of Aborigines and Native
welfare acts that came to dominate Aboriginal peoples’ lives and discriminate against their attempts to exercise their rights as citizens.
The 1862 terms under which the ‘new Territories of Western Australia’ were ‘open for occupation’ prevented convicts or
Pilbara pastoral leases were taken
ticket of leave holders from residing
up in the 1860s to occupy land
or working in the north west. By
ultimately owned by the Crown
the 1880s much of the land in the
but leased for pastoral purposes to
North West was under pastoral
encourage European occupation
lease and all stations relied on
and economic development:
Settlers are permitted on formal
The first systematic reporting to
application [which was often a
government on Aboriginal people’s
letter and description without
working and living conditions
survey] to proceed to the north
on Pilbara pastoral leases was
in 1893 when Charles Straker
two men women and children
report on a proposed new system
was instructed to tour north
working at Mindaroo Downs on
of general permits or group
western stations to make sure that
the Ashburton, 57 at Ashburton
permits which according to the
government rations of blankets
Downs, 17 at Boolaloo, 44 at
Chief Protector of Aborigines,
and flour were not being used for
Globehill, 67 at Nanutarra, 31 at
would provide minimal regulation
workers or for people who could
Uaroo, 76 on the Yanarrie River, 29
of living conditions and give
support themselves with bush
at Dairie Downs, 39 at Mt Hubert,
pastoralists the right to ‘secure the
food. From these reports a picture
and up to 300 on the De Grey River
obedience of their native servants
emerges of station work, station
stations. They received rations of
without continually calling in
relationships and government
flour, tea, tobacco and some meat
the aid of the police or resorting
attitudes and policies that endured
only when working and a set of
to more questionable means’.4
for the next 50 to 60 years. Each
clothes if they worked near white
Straker wrote that discipline was
homestead and pastoral lease,
men or women.
maintained on most stations with
regardless of size was accompanied by groups of Aboriginal people. For decades the Pilbara pastoral industry was a labour intensive open range system without fences, which relied upon natural watering points and on Aboriginal people to survive. At every sheep camp and homestead across the Pilbara, one or two white men, and very few white women, were overseers for hundreds of Aboriginal men, women and children who worked as shepherds, cooks, goat herds, firewood gatherers, water drawers, horse tailers, bullock drovers, horse breakers, and much more. Flocks of sheep were shepherded by small groups of Aboriginal men, women and children for months at a time following river frontages and water. On Mundabullangana station in the 1880s, water was drawn from 66 wells to maintain
At first Aboriginal people had been employed under the Master and Servants Acts in the Pilbara, but by the 1880s the government instituted a separate system of agreements for Aboriginal people under separate Aborigines protection
the threat of eviction and that there were fewer instances of violent punishment, with only an occasional thrashing of trouble makers. Most people, he wrote want to stay on their land and returned after their annual holiday and were ‘settling down’.
acts. The first in 1886 was partly a
Violence and conflict were
response to embarrassing reports
common features in the history of
in newspapers in Britain that
the region from the 1860s to the
a system of slavery and abuse
early 1900s, which together with
occurred in northern Western
the threat of being ’hunted off’
Australia especially in the pearling
were powerful disciplinary forces.
industry but also the pastoral
Incidents of extreme violence and
industry. There were reports of
multiple murders are recalled in
children as young as eight being
oral testimony and recorded in
chained and returned to employers
diaries and newspapers during
by police if they absconded, and
the period from 1860 to 1900
by far the majority of Aboriginal
when Aboriginal people were
people had no idea of what
learning the rules of the new
they had signed if there was an
regime. Pardoo, the De Grey and
agreement at all.
Oakover River areas, the central
hundreds of thousands of sheep.3
Straker’s secondary aim in touring
In the 1890s Straker reported forty
the northwest stations was to
coast between Port Hedland and Roebourne, the Burrup Peninsula, Maitland and Fortescue Rivers, the
Ashburton and Hamersley Ranges
‘gins’ who belonged to and identified
Aboriginal people in WA in 1934,
all experienced incidents that
with particular stations and
wrote that ‘full blood’ Aboriginal
helped to create a landscape of fear
particular bosses. They had grown
people on pastoral stations in
for Aboriginal people.
up with the pastoral bosses, learned
the north should be kept ‘under
their ‘discipline’, experienced
benevolent supervision’ of the
or witnessed punishments and
pastoralists, not educated or
humiliation and learned never
encouraged to leave stations and
to question the bosses’ authority.
their ‘tribal property’.7
Force and potential violence influenced relationships of interdependence, exchange and accommodation to work. Bush populations contracted toward increasing dependence on stations, with holiday seasons only when work was less intense. Aboriginal people’s lives began to revolve around white men’s camps and pastoral stations, and the pastoral routine. The conflicts of the past did not succeed in destroying Aboriginal culture but certainly severely disrupted it, and it is against this background of violence that Aboriginal people did their best to survive as a people. For those people who accepted the new regime and way of living with pastoralists and pastoralism, there were some benefits – comparative security and protection by the boss against being rounded up to work on a station outside your country or removed to a jail like Rottnest Island. For the generations who grew up on the stations many were selected for special treatment but it did not include wages or better living conditions. These were no longer the ‘bush blacks’ or ‘myalls’ as they’d been called for the first 20 years, but station ‘boys’, ‘house girls’ and
Key workers and their families developed a comparatively secure relationship on the stations and many helped care for the bosses children. They were rewarded with regular and reliable rations, unencumbered access to the lease, and holidays for law ceremonies or the races with new dresses, shirts and hats and some pocket money for the occasion. Leaders for Law were in every camp, singing, arranging marriages and punishments and ceremonies for initiation. Authority in the Law was displaced but not destroyed by the pastoral system.6 Legislation enacted in 1905, 1936 and 1954 again to ‘protect’ Aboriginal people through increased state control over employment and behaviour of Aboriginal people further entrenched the localised regime on pastoral stations and protected most northern pastoral station people from some of the interventions and institutionalisation that occurred for Aboriginal people living in other regions of WA, especially the south and metropolitan areas. Mosely reporting on the conditions of
People classed as ‘full blood’ Aboriginal were not entitled to welfare payments of any kind; they were the responsibility of the State as far as the Federal government was concerned and of pastoralists as far as the State government was concerned. Without equal wage status, or welfare payments Aboriginal people had very little choice about where they could live. They were only partially incorporated into systems of wages and welfare and needed to stay on stations where they were maintained. The western Australian government introduced an assimilation policy in 1951 to educate and encourage Aboriginal people to behave like white people and leave what was considered to be an Aboriginal way of life. Within this policy hundreds of part descent children were removed from their families and did not return. But it did not substantially alter its policy of supporting benevolent supervision on stations and the system of rations with pocket money, with
little education for children. This
stockmen, teamsters, horse
away from stations to towns to
system was maintained into
breakers and fencers. Some wages
visit children and exercise their
the 1940s and in some areas of
were also paid to workers who
independence, as well as reconnect
the Pilbara into the 1950s. As a
were part-descent people and
with others in town reserves who
result welfare Patrol Officers who
had become ‘citizens’ under the
had previously been limited in
arrived at some stations to remove
Native (Citizenship Rights) Act of
their ability to leave the stations.
children were turned away,
1944, and were no longer classed
The old system of cheap labour in
parents were warned and children
as Aboriginal and in need of
exchange for family and cultural
sent to the creeks to hide and
protection. They were able to enter
security began to crumble.
actively kept from state or religious
into contracts, own guns, join
institutions. The first mission in
unions, collect welfare payments
the Pilbara was after 1946.
like any other citizen, receive child
There was one major difference for Pilbara people, mining. In the 1880s gold fields were opened and Pilbara people began to work for the miners, and some prospected themselves. Pastoralists complained in the 1900s that station employees were
endowment and age pensions, go into pubs and work where and for whoever they liked. Some of these people also enlisted or were man powered to stations during the Second World War and entered a formal system of wages for the first time.
Pilbara Aboriginal people were for decades exploited as pastoral station labourers but they endured to negotiate a lifestyle that allowed them to survive a violent frontier period and to stay on or near their own land and families for many generations. This was the system that colonial governments’ supported and it was the system that was supported by
staying on the mining fields and
In the 1960s assimilation polices
State governments well into the
not returning to work as they once
began to impact upon pastoral
had. Tin mining at Moolyella in
stations in the Pilbara and severely
the 1930s, 40s and 50s became
disrupted the old system of life
a significant industry for many
on the stations. Commonwealth
Pilbara people who would go to
funds flowed into the Pilbara for
the fields during their off season
Aboriginal welfare with access for
holidays and exchange tin for cash
all Aboriginal people to maternity
and rations. This alternative means
allowances, age pensions and
of survival was important in the
unemployment benefits also in
Pilbara, providing encouragement
the 1960s. Aboriginal hostels in
to the 1946 Aboriginal pastoral
Roebourne, Onslow, Port Hedland
workers strike for better wages
and Carnarvon operated in the
and conditions and an avenue to
1950 and 1960s catering for station
stay away from stations for years
children who would spend months
away from their families but many
Limited wages were introduced in the 1940s especially for skilled
returned to stations for holidays. In the late 1960s and 1970s, welfare payments and wages drew people
References 1. ‘Western Australia’, South Australian Weekly Chronicle, Saturday 6 January 1866, p. 5. 2. See especially Charles Straker reports, SROWA 0926/1893, Cons 495 Series 3026. 3. Jenny Hardie, (1988) Nor’ Westers of the Pilbara Breed, Hesperian Press. 4. ‘The Aborigines Department’, The West Australian, 28 October 1899, p. 39. 5. M. Allbrook and M. A. Jebb, (2009) ‘Hidden Histories; Conflict, massacres and the colonisation of the Pilbara’, Report, AIATSIS. 6. M.A. Jebb, (2002) Blood Sweat and Welfare, UWA Press. 7. Mosely Royal Commission p.4, in M.A. Jebb, (1987) ‘Isolating the ‘problem’: Venereal Disease and Aborigines in Western Australia’, Honours Thesis, Murdoch University.
Corunna Downs, 1906, Photo authorâ€™s collection
My name is Marianne Tucker. I
one big quarter full gallon drum
was born in Roebourne in 1959. I
and one big spare tyre. We just
grew up on Mulga Downs Station
had to hang on, we’d go through
which is in my father’s traditional
old Wittenoom Road, which is still
land, the Banyjima people. I grew
up on Mulga Downs with my aunty, Elsie Tucker; she was a cook on Mulga Downs Station. When I was old enough to go back to schooling in Roebourne, I stayed at the Werriana hostel. Dad was working as a station hand, as a
the station, go and get our bush fruit, and bush medicine which you can bathe in and drink, it’s good for cold, good for asthma, and you can bath your sores in it.
stockman, and he stayed and
In the summer time we sleep
worked on Mulga Downs because
outside, during the winter time
he belonged to that country. Life
we’d make a big fire, sleep next to
on the station was very good in
that. My aunty had a little mia, it’s
those days, there was no problem.
still there standing today. I liked
We didn’t have any television, only just a radio. But all the time we’d get good stories around the campfire and that’s how we get knowledge from the old people. They used to explain to us, just our family, who we were related to, some funny stories too, but most of them were serious because my dad was very strict with us. We weren’t allowed to swear in front of him, not allowed to smoke, we had to go to school and stay in Roebourne at the hostel, ‘til the holiday time
Mulga Downs Pastoral Lease, Department of Lands and Survey, Courtesy State Records of Western Australia
On the station we’d walk around
to help a lot of the old people with my sister, we used to cook, and we clean the camp, rake up and get a bush broom, from the Gurlimba tree, we’d tie up the dry leaf then hit it on the ground and just let all the dry stuff out and we used to sweep, so we used a broom, y’know, old people showed us. My toy [was] a rusted old milk can! We used to put a wire through that. We fill it up with the sand, and we go around playin’ everywhere in the flat.
come, and there was a mail truck
I liked working. We had to boil the
driver named old Teddy Rogers,
hot water, we didn’t have a good
and his offsider’s name was Adam
hot water system. We’d fill up a
Gilby. When the old, people are
flour drum we used to buy back in
busy workin’ on the station, old
the ‘60s, that Dingo brand, and we
Mr. Rogers used to come pick us
used to make a fire and fill it up
up at the hostel. I used to get onto
with the water .
the back of the truck, it only had
The station owner help look after
have – apart from when Slim
put a goanna on there, kangaroo
our old people y’know? They have
Dusty and Buddy William used to
and thing, and he’s a put that trap
to go down and get a killer, down
come into town and play a show.
underneath that and he cover it
at the wool shed, they get a full
At the pictures, if we don’t have
up with the leaf and all that. And
sheep, or a fresh killer of meat.
money, we just sneak in, some of
when the dingo put his jina (foot)
And my brother was there, he’s
the old people used to go in with
there, well, he get caught.
the one who used to sit around the
a big blanket. ‘Cause I remember I
back of the station at the old wool
sneaked in a few times. Dad used
shed. He used to get all the killers,
to like going, that’s the only time
the owners, the Hancock family
we used to go in. We used to love
were there. When I was around
watching the cowboy movies.
then Mulga Downs then, that
Actually he named by brother
under the Hewson family, Jim and
‘Western’! And you wouldn’t
believe his second name is ‘Kid’!
When we went back to town it
After Mulga Downs, we went and
out, sleep on the ground, nothing,
wasn’t very happy. We used to see
dad moved on to Coolawanya
couldn’t even make a fire ‘cause
all the people drinkin’, fightin’,
station. Sometimes, Dad was
it just rained all night! All us kids
y’know. Same thing you see today.
dogging. We would all put in the
were squashed up in the Land
I reckon the bush life was good. I
one little short tail Land Rover.
Rover. Once the sun rise and get
don’t know why they give up their
Bush tucker, kangaroo meat, and
up in the morning, we made the
job and…it was a better upbringin’
all that. Dad has to pick out a spot,
biggest fire going, we all lay down
then. We had a good life out in the
a certain spot where the dingo
on the ground have a big rest, next
station, because on Saturdays we
he go around, you know? He had
morning! Well that was only when
used to go out to the old picture
to dig a shallow hole where you
we was young and school kids. We
garden in Wittenoom. It was the
set up a trap, put all the leaves in
were used to it, you know, the bush
only entertainment we used to
there. Then he used to cover it up,
life and dad was happy with that.
He was a hard worker. We used to go out bush, none of us used to stay in the camp when he was dogging, we used to all go with mum and dad. Out on dogging run. ‘Cause I remember one nightit rained all night, during wintertime. We didn’t even get
Aboriginal Stockman breaking in a wildhorse, 1958, National Library of Australia 152
My name is Eva Connors and I was
Later in 1959 mum had to move
born in Rocklea Station, Ashburton
to Onslow, we two kids had to
in 1948. My mother used to work
move as well. Before then we
all sort of jobs, cleaning the house,
were told, “you cant go to school
cooking and doing men’s work
because your Aboriginal,” and we
mending the saddle and cleaning
would think “Why? What is the
bridles. Dad used to be mustering
difference, we are all kids!” But
sheep and cattle. They would
then, all of a sudden we started
never whine about spending all
school, I was the age of eleven.
day chasing sheep or cattle and
From there dad moved from Wyloo
then getting up early the next
to Juna Downs Station not far from
morning to be gone all day again.
Wittenoom, so in 1960’s we moved
Us kids would never see dad until
to Roebourne school, because it
late at night. My mother was the
was closer to dad. We enjoyed
same, but mother was not far if we
school in Roebourne, but then later
wanted her, we used to go to the
we moved to the Nullagine mission
station house, and we used to get a
in 1962. My parents were still
feed from her.
working hard, building stockyards,
In 1950, the old boss sold the station to the new boss. Then we all had to move out to Wyloo Station. We stayed there; I don’t know how long, I was very young. From there we went to Kooline Station, working, dad used to do fencing, that was his main job, but when we were at Rocklea he used to do everything, dogging, doing fences, tank building, handling horses, breaking horses. All for food and clothes, they were happy to work the long hours, because they enjoyed it. They used to do droving from Rocklea to Meekatharra and put the sheep on the train to Perth. Later on, they did it with cattle too, put them on the train to Midland, to the meat place.
fencing, and windmills. On Rocklea we’d look after the elders with everything. “You got to look after the old people, they used to look after you when you were little, so it’s your turn to look after them”, my Mum told us. We were happy to look after them. Old people used to tell us yarns about working hard for clothes and food. It wasn’t until the 1950’s they started to get money, something like five bob a week. We used to think that was a lot of money, but when I sit back now and think, five bob! That’s not that much money! But, we never went hungry- we always had fresh meat. When dad was out droving, the boss used to kill a sheep for us, one for each camp so we all had meat.
Dad used to be gone three or four
the station and get a ration, or the
In the station we had a
months when he was, it was slow
boss would drop it out to us if we
groundsheet and blanket to lie
to drive sheep them from Rocklea
couldn’t make it.
down, and everyone would eat
Dad used to have an old wooden
at the same time. We would put down the feed; everyone would sit
The camps used to be different;
truck, the tires never had a tube
the old people would have their
it was just hard rubber. We used
own tents. The kids would have to
to sit on the back of that, and it
go and collect fire wood for the old
was a rough ride! But we used to
people in the afternoon, and get a
enjoy going out to the rivers and
bucket of water for them, before
permanent pools on the weekend,
Lots of funny yarns, dad and his
they go to sleep.
go and get a kangaroo. We would
friends would tell us about when
We used to go to the station store
jump in the old truck and go
they was out dogging and they was
anywhere. We also had a little
riding all day looking for kangaroo,
tin-a-fruit with milk, and a curly
calf, the calf was always with the
but no kangaroo, no nothing, and
lolly, the one with sugar on top-
dogs, when the dogs used to jump
they said “Oh well, this station
that was our favorite. They used
off to chase kangaroo the calf was
man is rich, we will shoot a cattle,
to give us a box and it would last
right there with them! People used
get a meat like that”. They thought
a long time before we got to finish
to say “what’s wrong with that
we don’t get anything for our work;
it. We called it a sugar lolly; it had
calf.” We used say “he thinks he
we just work for clothes and food.
toffee in the middle. We never
is a dog!” It was funny when he
had clothes like today, we used to
got big, because he would still sit
wear boys clothes, because it was
in the back of the truck with us,
very hard to get girl clothes until
this big thing in the back with the
around 1949, then they started to
dogs and us! But when he died, we
get clothes for the woman. Mum
were all upset, we were crying,
used to make clothes and they
we got no more calf to chase the
used to get material from Onslow.
Rocklea is the station I remember
In 1962-63 I was in Nullagine
the sheep around a lot then in
the most, but we moved wherever
but after that I came back to
the drought, to places where they
the work was. Later, when I was a
Roebourne to get a job in the
could get a bit of feed, and to the
bit older, we worked on Hamersley
hostel, that is where I started
water as well, so you’ve got to
Station, my sister and I. We worked
work at fifteen. I was working
know where the water is.
for rations, just like Mum and Dad;
for fourteen dollars a week! I
the little kids they used to line up
knew what to do when I came to
for their rations too. Once a month
Werriana Hostel because I used
the boss would go to town and get
to do it in the station because my
supplies, then every Sunday we
grandmother trained me to cook.
for the rations, us kids would get
together, after it was all cleaned up we used to have a yarn around campfire that was when they tell us about our culture.
A lot of people talked about getting no money. The station people would say, “there is no money, because the wool price is down” or “we got a big drought and lots of sheep are dying, and that’s was why there is no money”. That was their excuse! They had to move
would come in from the bush to
It was a hard time, dad had to break in horses, and mend the saddle if it was broken, my mum used to do that, bridle and grease the saddle.
Andrew Malcolm Stewart, Mt Wittenoom Station, 1955, Courtesy State Library of Western Australia
The ladies got to do the cleaning
A rich mans’ daughter; blackfella
cattle, you got to have three spare
of the saddle, and grease the
showed her how to ride a horse!
horses, so when one get lame, then
saddle. First they used to clean it,
We used to love riding, you feel
you got another two for backup, or
clean the saddle with cloth, and
free, you can jump on the back of
you got to go all the way back to the
then you get the saddle grease,
the horse and you are gone! We
station to get another one, and that
and grease it up like that, polish
had a horse called Stocking and
takes a while so he didn’t like that.
it up like a car. Back then when
Jewel, they were cattle mustering
there was a job you got to work
horses, we were told, “Don’t ride
right through till you get pinkeye
that horse, it will kill you, it broke
(holiday), just imagine that!
that other man’s leg”, I said “don’t
Today I go back to some of the stations, but it makes me sad, the old stations that I knew are finished. I went back to my old
worry about that, we can ride it!” So I rode that horse, I never got broken leg, you got to know how to handle them.
When free rights came in, that killed our way of life, the station people had to send all the people back into town because they couldn’t keep them. I was told that everyone was allowed to go in the pub now, and I thought this is going to ruin our way of life.
playground to find the old fig
My dad used to show me,
Those days on the station taught
tree we used to climb, but that’s
mustering cattle. We used to do the
us “you have to work to survive,
all gone now. We used to walk
horses while the men go chasing
if you don’t work, you don’t eat”.
down the river, but that river is
wild cattle, we would take the first
Some people today call me today
all dry now, and the food we used
horses to yard and wait for the
‘old fashioned’, but I rather be ‘old
to collect in the river, that’s all
boys to bring the cattle in. It was a
fashioned’ than ‘new fashioned’,
finished too! We used to collect
long ride from the station, to bush
we had a really happy life in the
bush potatoes, white carrot, and
camp, and we had to take all the
station, never mind we didn’t have
wild onion, fill a bucket. Mum and
loose horses and supplies, you start
money, we were happy and we
Dad used to get wild honey, and
off in the morning and get there at
couldn’t see any trouble.
we’d eat grubs that are all fat.
dark. You go along slowly, you cant
I used to ride horses, in Hamersley Station. I taught Gina Rinehart to ride a horse; she couldn’t ride a horse until my sister and I taught her.
gallop the horse; you will tire him up so you got to go along slowly. My dad would get angry if anyone was cruel to a horse, they would get a hiding. When you are mustering
Joffre Gorge at Karijini National Park, photograph by Claire Martin, 2014 158
My name is Nina Smith. I was born
Mum used to tell us she grew up
in Wittenoom, during 1961. My
on Rocklea Station. She reckons
parents worked around there and
they used to have an old Chinese
they are from that area. My dad
bloke who used to be the cook, he
worked in Mulga Downs station
taught them how to cook, how to
doing a lot of contract work and
sew their clothes. He was training
fencing on different stations. We
all the young girls. She’d talk about
lived out in the bush, in little
her life in Rocklea, remembering
humpies and dad just went from
when the half-caste kids got
the camp to work. Dad had a few
taken away, and she’d say that
blokes working for him. I was only
she was a lucky one. They used
around two or three years old,
to call the police the mounted
police, and when they used to see
I remember we’d go into Wittenoom for groceries and hospital, to meet other families or to see the pictures. It was strange to come from bush into town, we never had televisions back then, we were excited to watch a movie
them coming, my grandmother would yell out to mum “Quick, quick they are coming, run, run they’re coming!” They used to run to the river or head up the hills. Otherwise she would have been stolen. That’s the native welfare.
on the big screen. We used to like
When I was living around Mulga
going into town, and looking in
Downs, in about 1966-67, Dad
shops, seeing families who lived in
found work around at Cherreta
Wittenoom, and seeing different
Station and he did a bit of
mustering in Pyramid, you can see
I haven’t been back there for a long time… many years. We would just play around, in the wool sheds, and when it was shearing time, we’d watch them shear. We just love running around free in the country and swimming in the rivers. We used to call mum the gunslinger, because she used to go hunting with the gun, and she’d always have Pudding following her. She used to walk with a kangaroo dog.
his old cattle yards standing. He couldn’t keep us out bush anymore so we were placed in the Weeriana Hostel, and that’s how we ended up in Roebourne. Dad would still come in from working on stations and we used to go out weekends and most of the holidays from the hostel. We used to love being out bush. As soon as he’d come to pick us up we would say “Oh! Yes, dad’s here, we are going bush!” We used to enjoy cruising in the back of
the car and we’d go fencing with
started worrying about money.
us little things, and we had to take
him. He took us to places where he
When she finally ended up getting
whatever we were given, we knew
worked in Pyramid, Cherreta, and
a house she used to take us to the
our parents couldn’t afford much.
Cooya Pooya, he also worked for
old Red Cross shop in Roebourne
Karratha Station and some near
where we had to buy all our
Onslow, so he used to travel a lot.
clothes and shoes, all second had
I remember mum saying that they never paid for her work,
stuff. We never really had much in those days!
Mum always said to me, “you got to work to get something, and you have to learn to look after it, don’t just want want and want!” Mum and dad were very strict they said
only rations, clothes and food.
Today, I work in the school here
“don’t go on the dole, you got to
Sometimes they used to get
in Roebourne, and when I talk to
work, and don’t come and ask us
Shillings, Thrupence, a little bit
the young kids I tell them they are
for money”. I have good memories
of pay, but mum said they never
luck to have a nice playground,
to look back on and think about
used to worry about it, so long
lawn, and good buildings. When
how hard life was for mum and
as they got food. Mum said that
we started school we had nothing,
dad, it wasn’t an easy life. We
money wasn’t around much, and
we had to play with sticks and
have it hard today but it wasn’t as
that they just got all the things
stones and tins, our oval was
hard as what the old people went
from the station. They knew there
dirt, it was red dust, no lawn, no
wasn’t much money around. It was
buildings! When our families did
when they got into town that they
have a little bit of money they got
My name is Ronny Roy. I started off in Onslow schoolthat’s in the 1960’s. I left when I was fourteen or fifteen. I went and worked at the station with my father, because my grandmother
for me. Uncle Midjaling (Johnson Hicks), he saved me, pushed that bull away. I didn’t know what to do, really, that’s how I learned how to gallop properly, and that’s how I started.
said, “you can go with your
I been there two and half years.
Dad now.” I’d been with my
They call me a jackaroo, I used
grandmother all my life. Most of
to work for two dollars a week,
the time she was on the stations,
and that’s hard. In those days, we
Yaraloola, Peedamulla, and Red
had the old money, the pounds,
Hill, my grandmother used to
shillings, two bob. I spent it getting
work as a musterer’s cook, clean
surf, and soap, tobacco, everything
up dishes, make a feed. She had to
came from the station, soon
do breakfast, dinner, and supper,
the money’s gone, never made
work hard. I don’t think she made
anything, two dollar a week, little
any money for that, just used to
I used to get up early, if you don’t,
The first station I been too,
they’d leave us there, asleep and
working, is called Hamersley
they’d be gone. We wake up, there
Station. I was about fifteen and a
would be no breakfast, saddle our
half. I had to learn how to ride a
horses and we had to figure out
horse. We went out bush and they
which way they gone, had to follow
gave me a horse called Bumble.
the track, all in the open country,
That’s how you gallop a horse,
by jingoes, they used to be hard
jogging around, falling off, until
with us. They never used to be
I got the hang of it. First thing, I
easy; they used to treat us rough.
went out bush, and they had all
Get up early, leave us there.
the cattle, the coaches.
Nelson Hughes was main man
We were at a windmill called
around there, David Stock, Barney
Bennet mill, way up in the hills at
Standard and Ginger Samson,
Hamersley Station, out in the flat.
they taught me. I never used to
I was on bumble we were rounding
stop working, never used to have
up the coaches and wild cattle was
a smoko, I didn’t like that. I didn’t
there chasing straight for me, I
want to stop, I had the energy.
didn’t know what to do. By jingoes,
They taught me how to ride a buck
that bull was coming straight
jumper, give me a lot of skills.
Ronny Roy at Dalgetty House in Port Hedland, photograph by Jetsonorama, 2014 163
We used to chase the cattle, jump
horses.” All us fellas can hear
fright, he jumped back, I was that
on, get off the horse, grab them
them, brraaa you can hear the bull
quick, the horse didn’t even know-
by the tail and put a handcuff
coming, we got to muster them.
I was like Bruce Lee. That goanna
on them. They taught me how to
We can see ‘em in the moonlight,
frightened me, I can’t even grab a
castrate them, brand them.
the biggest mob. One old fella said,
I was working with cattle then, the sheep was moved off the station because they found out too many cattle were breaking all the fences, so all the sheep was going right through and coming the other side, mixing up. He had two stations
“come on, let’s go.” He chase them, that’s in the gravel country, this one horse put his foot down and went tumbling so I went flying, a sharp stick was there, it just missed me, I was lucky, I would have been dead.
We used to carry our tucker in those saddlebags- along with a quart-pot, a whip, old rifle, to kill a kangaroo or something, when we got sick of eating beef, or an emu or goanna. But you can’t carry too many things, a bull might chase
so he sent them to Mulga Downs
Another time when I was with
you, when they get hot, they come
station, old Lang Hancock.
Marshall Smith I had a bugger of
straight for you.
I loved the horse riding, and going out bush, mustering wild cattle. We had to bring all the wild cattle, when we got enough- bring them right back to four mile, draft them all out, them old mickeys and the bulls, draft them all out, castrate them. Always a big mob, they had a fence there. Take all them there, maybe thirty of forty, push them into the paddock, all the little calves go back with their mothers. Two blokes and a rope, one bloke get the front leg, one in the back.
a horse, I didn’t like that horse, I tried to kick him he went straight back into this tree, going straight for me, but I went underneath it. Marshall thought I was going to get hurt. That’s a long way if you get hurt, this was up in the tablelands country. We used to work this side of Mount Herbert, put the yard down along there near the Black Ranges, wild cattle along there
he said. Anyway this one time, I went to close the gate, and forgot that horse was just standing in front of me and he kicked, I saw two legs either side of my head, lucky I was right in middle, he would have blown my head off.
out the back; I didn’t worry about
he gets savage he’ll chase you, the
bugger. I went working on Karratha
it. You draft them all out, the
this one bloke Sam Wheelbarrow,
calves and the mickey put them
give me goanna in this saddle
in the race. We used to love riding
bag, but they only half killed him.
the little calves me and Douglas
I was riding along, next minute
something grabbed me, I see the
cattle coming in, get ready, saddle
legs. “Don’t get behind the horse,”
Sheep not as hard as cattle, when
Back in the Hamersley station
cattle in the moonlight, “ a lot of
kicked by a horse, broke his two
too. I used to love it, nice country
I used to like the back leg. Lasoo
Once, we was mustering the
Old fella that saved my life, he got
goanna, ‘oh jingoe’ when that happened I jumped off the horse, before the horse knew if I was in front of him , horse got the biggest
Station after Hamersley; this was my first sheep station. I was still a teenager then. My grandmother was back at Peedamulla Station. At that time, Tom Price wasn’t even there, they was just putting a railway line in, but us Aboriginal people couldn’t get a job with them guys. We wanted to work, all us Aboriginal people like working.
I was willing to do anything, these
But, we never used to be silly, old
I worked at many stations around
days, any kind of work, plenty of
people were strict, everyone was
the Gascoyne- many used to be
sheep station, but it’s all cattle
I couldn’t get a job, us Aboriginal
Most of us Aboriginal people used
people had no right to get a job at
to be out on the station, that’s
the railway- until the free rights
where we spent our life. Then
came in. When free rights come
award rates come in you know– too
in, everyone was happy. I was at
many people was in the station,
the races in Wittenoom town,
biggest mob, they couldn’t pay the
meet a lot of people there. We was
people to stay there, that’s why
camping in the flat, people would
the people had to go into town.
say, “come have a drink with us.”
That’s when town buggered the
“No, too early for me,” I’d tell them.
people up. Round the Ashburton
First time I got drunk they had to
district, Kooline, Mount Stuart, full
carry me from the chair to my bed,
of Aboriginal people, every station.
by jingoes, I had a hangover, “what
They never got paid.
you fellas done to me?” I said.
now. We come in the 60’s we didn’t get rations, but it was still hard in those days. We were mustering on motorbikes then and everything changed. I was learning how to ride this bike. Motorbike you could get there faster, a bit easier. They got motorcars come in, helicopters come around now. Yanery was my last station. I miss the station life, miss all the people. We used to love the dance in my kid days, everyone paint up, and we had the dancing stick. I love those stations.
Alec Tucker The station people gave me the name Alexander, but I tell them, it’s Alec.
I was born on Mulga Downs
stove oven and I liked to eat the
Station in 1943, under the mulga
dough. I get in trouble over that,
tree. My older sister and brother
Mum get rough. I tell her I’m going
passed away, I’m the younger
one, the nyirri. I’m reared and born on Mulga Downs, grew up there. Started work on the station when I was around fourteen as a yardman.
In the house, where the boss is, that’s where the kitchen is, they cook there; bring all the food out to the camps. The breakfast they have at home, morning tea in the
All my life, Mulga Downs…George
bough shed, in the wood heap,
Hancock, Lang Hancock’s father
sit down there, sometime have
owned that station. We worked for
dinner…Lovely cake, and breads in
nothing, outrageous!? When I got
those old wood stoves.
up to my age, they started a pound a week, but we first start off with just a ration. The highest rate we went to was one pound, no dollars and cents. Worked there until I was twenty one…had my home there, mostly in the station, I was the head stockman, you know?
They cook there, the boss’ wife look after the old girls that cook, you know? Tell them how to cook a good feed for the boys, sweets and stuff like that…fruit, custard, you get them dried fruit in the packet and they cook that up with custard. You buy a tin of fruit from
My first job, clean the yard. Second
the shop - they had a lovely shop,
job, they put me down in the wool
everything there. It was on the
shed, shearing shed, do some
station, and opens every Sunday.
fencing around the yard, fix up the
The boss – the manager, used to
sheep yard. Gotta stop there until
I finish that job, if I do anything wrong, the boss will go and check it. “You gotta sit down here until you finish, I’ll be back again to check you,” he would say. Once you’re completed, then you’re right.
The old manager was George Derby, and he had a daughter, my playmate, we’d get into trouble. Binyarri, you know? Fighting…you know, kids. Grew up with a few whitefellas. The second boss, Reece
I get sick of the yard…I like horses,
King, he had a son and a daughter,
see? I like to be with them rather
so I grew up mixing. Happy
than hanging round with Mum.
childhood, happy memories…
Mum and I don’t get on, you know
go down the creek, Estate Creek
they used to make a cake in the
used to be there, not far from the
Alec Tucker in Tom Price, photograph by Jestonorama, 2014 167
homestead when it rained, it would
Do the last run, summer time,
mix them up, whitefellas and all.
run and that’s our swimming pool.
just about Christmas. Winter time
We had a lady with us, didn’t know
Lovely childhood! Old people had a
comes around and they are back
we had a lady with us! She dressed
great time, they sit down and sing
for shearing, that’s another muster
up like a stockman, hey, we got
a corroboree every night, happy
going to two lots of sheds, Mulga
one lady here!
old people, sit down, round a fire,
Downs and Cowra Outcamp.
yarn. But I’m not allowed to be there, they kick me out. “You’ve got your own room, you go there,” they said.
By the time you’ve finished, its races, Wittenoom, but Roebourne first. We got it all exactly right, when you finish the last muster,
Gramophone, wind up that old
last sheep, we go back home, take
one, 78 records. Slim Dusty. I used
all the shoes off, get ready, clean
to argue with the old people who
up, go to the races, that was fun.
bought this and they said this will
Races different to races now, they
keep you busy, stop you arguing
used to have station horses. I
with Mum and Dad. It only had one
used to be a trainer. Some of the
needle, but the needle gets blunt,
whitefellas used to have a horse
you can’t get any needle. Blackfella
in town, but they leave it in Mulga
got a knife, sharpen him up, that’s
Downs station. I gotta go look for
how it is. Life in the station. Hard
his horse, train him up, look after
life, but happy people.
him. We use him for shearing,
I went to the muster camp then, and stayed in mustering. There were two lots of mustering, winter time shearing, and summer time tailing. When they’ve done
mustering, to get a bit of weight off him, train him at the same time. Take it in for him, leave it in his yard. That’s how it was in the station.
But jeez, some of those ladies can ride. Stockmen race was just for station people. Might be Coolawanya, Mount Florence, Mulga Downs. Only place that never bring a horse was Hamersley, we had a race horse in Mulga Downs, belong to the station, two horses. Mount Welcome, they come up, have their own race horse. Good times, Aboriginal people used to come from there, meet up…we know other people coming too, from Roebourne, from other stations, Marillana, Roy Hill, used to be a separate camp, Roebourne, then us, we know each other. Roy Hill and Marillana Station they camp one side. We all get together and have a talk at the race course
that they knock off, they call it
There was the Gymkhana too; they
the ‘pink eye’, go holidays, see?
have stockmen races, all sorts of
They tell the station owners,
races. Stockmen have a foot race,
the squatter that its ‘pink eye’
a running race. Jump in the bag,
time, every station they use that
hop along, policeman he knows
word. We stop in the bush, near
Alec see, lining up for foot races,
a windmill, we tell the boss that
all the boys lined up, he pulled me
we’re going down to the windmill,
out. “You come back, come behind
round the back, in the creek, and
a bit, you cheating here,” he said.
have a corroboree, yarn there. No
We gotta line up; he’s always the
going to town, and we never used
first one! You get some prize, some
to worry about drink. Just bush.
gift for you, kids do the same. We’d
though, enjoy the activities there. Cards were the main one for the old people. Two-up, we young fellas, we never joined up in them, we keep to one side, we play music, sit down. Old Kenny Jerrold, my gadja, he was with the music fellas that Roebourne mob, we were the music people too, we had guitars on the station. We sit down, have a yarn, we’d wander down,
something like a merry-go-round
car. Aboriginal people they don’t
skill we have, then I change to
in the town and we’d go there.
like that whitefella, they probably
Roebourne, worked at the Mobil
Course, we’re not allowed in the
spear him and kill him in those
Station, those were free rights
pub at that time.
days. They only like certain people
time, they come in about ‘65, you
that belong, real old timers, they
know. I was in the Mallina Station
say, alright, you’re my friend, don’t
at that time; I got a job in Mallina,
like stranger whitefella, never seen
Croydon, Canes Well, those were
them before. Poor old fellas.
owned by John Stickney. At that
Everybody dressed up like a stockman…stockmen clothes, stockmen shirts, everything from the station. RM Williams stuff,
time we had sheep and cattle. We
you’ve got to order it, any trousers,
This old fella, my old uncle,
stock man cut. I was a stockmen
bushman, can’t speak English
when I was fifteen, jumping on
much, they had a spring cart, and
horses then, you know. I was
one of them shafts was broken, in
training a horse too, teaching, I
the bush. I was only a kid then, I
was trained by the old people, you
thought we stuck here, we’ll never
know, how to break a horse in….
get going, then I seen an old fella
Old people, Paddy Long, my Dad,
get an axe, chop the mulga tree,
the old fellas they break a horse in,
come back, made a new shaft,
they teach us, see? We used to get
going again. They used to be pretty
teached by them, rough and tough.
good bush mechanics. I seen an old
We started going back to the
It wasn’t kind words. “If you don’t
fella make a jillerman (gun) .22,
reserve in Roebourne and Onslow
get on a horse you’re not worth
single shot, one stock was broken,
too. It was very strict with the
anything…..If you want to be a
old fella got an axe, chop the tree
government then, police, welfare,
stockman, you got to learn to listen
and make him up. Very crafty.
they would come and ask you
and obey, when we’re gone, you fellas got to take over” they would say, “we tell you, you listen….and if you get chucked off, just shake the dust off your clothes, get back on again, if you don’t, you get out of the yard - if you want to learn, no shaking to get on.” They used very strong words.
At Mulga Downs the head stockman used to be Aboriginal fella running the camp…then they changed; bring a whitefella in, some good, some bad. Get in the boxing ring with them, we had the biggest fight. Old George Hancock was very straight, because he been a binyarri with blackfellas, when
When we had ‘pink eye’, we had
he first came in, he binyarri with
to light a fire, that’s a custom you
the blackfellas. Some of them were
know, for Aboriginal people that’s
good old ringers, good boxers, you
their telephone, it says, we coming.
know, old fellas.
White fellas, he different in the early days, they drive a motor
Station work, that was the only
learned shearing from back in Mulga Downs, you’ve got to shear twice a year, shearing time, get shared by shearers, second time, tailing, lamb tailers, Aboriginal people did that because no shearers, it was a hard job, ram had a big horn, and pretty heavy too, and they kick.
questions. “Are you on holiday”? They would ask. “Yeah, two weeks,” I’d say. “Well, once those two weeks is up we want you on the mail truck,” they’d tell us. Otherwise they’d charge you for vagrancy. “You’re not allowed to bludge around there with the pensioners”, they’d warn us. “Hey, they are my family,” we’d respond. “You’re young fellas, you got to go work,” policeman said. That’s how strict they were.
In our heart, we, say, we love the station. We have stations, at Onslow, Peedamulla, we can swap around. You think about those good memories when you were a kid, with your mum and dad, with the old people, you can get their picture, sitting around the camp fire, go around storytelling in the country, travelling and the waterholes, we could do all that.
Alec Tucker in Tom Price, photograph by Jetsonorama, 2014 170
May Byrne: My name is May Byrne. Andrew Dowding: Where were you born?
Yes, they did. They were out at Glenn Florrie Station as that is why my sister Munyi and I were in Gillamia Native Hostel, because
May Byrne: I was born in Onslow,
our parents were out on the
1959 at the old hospital, but that’s
Station. The Native Hostel was
no longer there and I stayed on the
for children whose parents were
reserve. My mum was born near
working out on stations.
Paraburdoo, at Rocklea Station. All the people from the tableland moved to Onslow and surrounding stations. There was nothing at the old reserve, they only had one house (government house) people used to just live in the sandhills. Native Welfare then issued tents and they started building the houses on the reserve.
Johnny Rolston owned Glenn Florrie station, he was the pioneer of cattle aerial mustering. Me and Munyi s first plane ride was on his plane “Moonie”, we’d be on the flight to Onslow for schooling. Everything looked like toys up in the air, we could see the tank, windmill and my father with all the other workers mustering.
Sharmila Wood: And how come
Johnny Rolston swooped down and
Banjyma people were living in
threw a note wrapped around a
rock below to them.
May Byrne: Most of the families
Andrew Dowding: So it sounds like
moved to Onslow or Roebourne.
it was pretty exciting.
My grandmother’s younger sister, nana Alice Smith and her family were the last to leave the stations, they were on Juna Downs and grandfather Nelson Hughes and his family left Hamersley Station in the 1980s. Station life was very
Yeah, we got on well with their kids, I still keep in contact with Michelle Rolston she worked for a heart surgeon and now owns a ranch in California, teaching riding.
hard but people liked living on
Sharmila Wood: What else do
you remember about being on the
Andrew Dowding: So you were
born down in Onslow and then did
May Byrne: Lots of things. It was
your mum and dad work on the
a very pretty station, with date
Stations after that?
palms and rivers all around it.
May Byrne at her property photograph by Jetsonorama, 2014 173
I used to just walk off on my own,
Sharmila Wood: So was your mum
Kooline Station and Ashburton
not far, looking for bardies. I used
May Byrne: Yeah, she used to go
Andrew Dowding: And who did
to work at the house there and on
you guys visit out there? Or what
Stations too, they used to cook in
did you do on those weekends?
to go digging for bardies up near the airstrip. I use to go around chasing the spinifex pigeon, I chased one there because they’re good eating, because they land and get up and land, you can follow it
the English way. They learnt that too, the old people.
May Byrne: On Ashburton Downs Station my mum’s older sister
easily and I was chasing this bird,
Andrew Dowding: How do you
aunty Lena Long and her husband
going up on top of the hill and
think they went doing that?
uncle Henry Long were there
I saw a grave there, when I saw
Changing from cooking outdoors
and their 2 sons, they used to get
this I got frightened and I rushed
to cooking in the oven and stove?
excited when they saw us.
back home, yeah and left that bird
May Byrne: Well the old people
Sharmila Wood: So, where were
loved sitting around the fire, they
you living on the station?
Eric Rolston was only nine but he
didn’t have gas until the 1970’s but
was allowed to drive the station
they use to get us to light the gas.
car, a Volkswagen, and all us kids
Sharmila Wood: So on the
it was only our family who stayed
would jump in and go up to two
stations, did your mum make your
mile creek- no adults.
clothes for you?
Yeah, another incident happened
May Byrne: Yeah, she used to
inside the shearing shed, did you
when we were in Glenn Florrie.
make shift dresses. I used to see
guys sleep on cyclone beds?
Johnny Rolston used his plane
her on the ground there, you know,
to search for two boys who were
just cutting it out.
missing from Red Hill Station. They were walking to Mount Stuart Station. He came back and gave the news that they both
Andrew Dowding: And so how old were you when you guys came off the Stations? Were you school age? May Bryne: Yes, we were school
mums’ older sister’s son and the
age then…. We lived on the reserve
other was my young uncle.
with the now new houses with my
really young at that time on Glenn Florrie?
shearing quarters in Glenn Florrie,
Andrew Dowding: When you say
perished, one of them was my
Andrew Dowding: So you were
May Byrne: We used to stay in the
dad working at the local garage. The local garage was a contractor for taking Station mails and food out. I went on a trip with my dad,
Yes, the Station owner children
he couldn’t read and write, but
and us got on well, we used to take
they would stack the mail for each
them looking for Ngudgarla (bush
Station, first one was Mount Stuart
gum ) lollies off the trees.
then onto Wyloo and then onto
May Byrne: Oh no, we used to have we used to sleep on the ground outside with a calico ground sheet. Andrew Doding: So pretty rough? May Byrne: Yeah, we had a rough life! We had no mattresses either in the old reserve, but they were happy memories!
Sharmila Wood: So what was it that you liked most about the station? May Byrne: I loved the bush, because I was so happy in the bush, you know? That is why I am living out on my country in the bushâ€Ś so peaceful.
Junba, photograph by Claire Martin, 2014
Peter Henry Derschaw
They used to always say I was
time and lived life pretty hard,
born in the 1942 blow. Today, they
like during the winter mustering
call it a cyclone. I was born on the
season when we had to get up at
station, and followed my father
daylight and finish dark you know?
around on the stations, and then
It was 4.00 am ‘til dark. But that
he actually got a job at the Comet
was only six months of the year.
gold mine out at Marble Bar. I sort of grew up there, and I went to school in Marble Bar. I don’t know what for, but I went to school. I didn’t learn anything, that was at Geraldton High School. I was waiting as a apprentice diesel engineer, but I started working on the station in 1957 and I ended up preferring the station life. I was on Muccan Station along the De Grey River. We used to check the windmills and muster sheep during the winter season. We’d be on horseback.
run and clean the trough. We had to clean the troughs every couple of days because the sheep didn’t like dirty water. I’ve been in and out of everything, until 1963, that’s when I left the stations completely. I liked working on the station. That was the only thing at that time. If you didn’t work, there was no such thing as Centrelink. We didn’t know anything about that until I turned about thirty. We earned about three pound eighteen and we managed to live with that. The
My dad’s mother’s brother sold me
only thing we could get on the
a horse from Warrie Station and
stations was Cabin or Champion
the horse came off the Fortescue
tobacco until we got to town, and
Marsh. I used to ride horses when I
then we used to buy all types of
was very young. And the horse was
named Swagman. But when I went to Geraldton High School I took the horse to Limestone Station, and I haven’t seen the horse since.
Peter Derschaw in Port Hedland, photograph by Jetsonorama, 2014
We also had to do the windmill
We never used to ride without spurs at that time and I had to ride buck-jumping horses. I was good at it…six months of the year was
The manager at Mucken Station
on sheep, then when the weather
was Dave Schillings at the time. I
got hot, we had to go on the cattle
was only there seventeen months
side, that’s on the east side of
before I moved to Warrawagine,
Warrawagine. All the cattle could
but you know, the time used to be
come out of the hills, you know,
very slow in them days, not like
and go down on to the river flats.
today. Maybe because we worked
We only had horses to round them
hard sitting in the saddle all the
up with no airplanes to drive ‘em
out from the hills. We had to set
get up onto the horse, more or
onto the horse. That’s how I get on
fire to logs around the rock holes
less break the horse in while we’re
a buck-jumping horse very quick.
and things to get the cattle down
sitting on their back…mules were
Use your knee, not just swing and
into the river flats. We have to be
the worst. You got on a mule in the
swivel around on your stirrup.
waiting all the time for them…
morning, you couldn’t get off him
we was the outside musterers, the
until you got back to the camp at
ones to bring the wild cattle in. A
night, because if you got off them
lot of times, when they are getting
out in the paddock, you’d never get
close the cattle break out, so we
back or you’d have to walk all the
had to chase him and tip him over,
way by yourself.
cut his horns and whatever else, you know? Then bring the coaches and let him go, untie the mickey straps, wrestle them, jump off the horse. The moment they broke out, like the fresh bull, you couldn’t let that bull tire…you had to catch them while they were more or less in full flight, and then catch them off balance, and tip them over by the tail.
horseman, but I’ve never ever seen them mount a horse the correct way…If I showed a person now how I was taught to get on a horse, they’d laugh at me…There were a
We used to get a lot of good riders.
lot of stockmen in Warrawagine,
Some of them, well almost all of
real top-class, and they was all
the Warrawagine horses there,
Aboriginals. When the white
they used to buck a lot. We used
jackaroos used come and see how
to get jackaroos coming up. they
we’d mount a horse and things
would go and get a job, but they
like that, they never expected to
couldn’t ride these horses. So I
see, how quick we used to get on a
used to end up with one for every
day of the week because I galloped them every day to bring the wild cattle into the coaches. A lot of
I’ll tell you we used to get ten bob
people had four, some of them only
for every trucking cattle - I got
had two, and I always had one for
thirty three, and the closest one
every day of the week because
to me was twenty, so I was pretty
I could ride ‘em, you know, the
good at the game. Well I went
rough ones, the buck-jumping
there ‘round about ‘58, and I left
ones. My horses never used to
there when I turned twenty-one.
get tired because I kept changing
I had my birthday on the back
of a horse.
A lot of people say they’re a good
There were never too many white people, sometimes the musterers cook, but the rest of us is all Aboriginals. Especially mustering wild cattle, we never used to have a jackaroo muster, it’s too dangerous….I’ve seen bulls ripping horses to pieces. That’s why we stopped having white people with us in cattle camp, because they face up to a bull. Well, that bull is
With the buck jumpers you had
very quick. I see it jump like that
The horses we had to ride, if there
to get onto the saddle before they
before the horse could move. Yeah,
was ever a movie camera, the
could buck. But I had a good way
not a good sight….but what a bull
things we used to do, and still
that I was taught, to heel-lock the
can do to the horses...skin them!
survive today…no one would
horse and have your rein folded up
ever know, only I do and no
the right way, and the horse’s head
other people that’s still alive…
would be more or less under your
Sometimes we had to leg rope
shoulder. You put your knee into
them and put the saddle on, and
the shoulder and swing from there
So you had to be very experienced, if a bull break you have to be on him straight away to knock him before he tires, but if that happens,
and he is tired you go got no
We never carried anything with
were no buildings around the race
chance of throwing him. When
us, and a lot of times, we never
course then…we had to lock them
we got desperate to get enough
used to bother about eating. In
up at night. We had to build a yard
truckin’ cattle, then we would use
the rough country, you know, the
that used to hold them overnight,
all these different tricks you can
horse would lose a lot of shoes. In
but we used to camp there, near
take your hat and fling it like that,
our saddle bag was a horseshoe
morning time around the race
and he’d go up to that and we use
hammer, nails and horseshoes.
ropes and different thing.
A lot of times you had to pull up,
I used to like mustering wild cattle better than sheep, because sheep was too slow, but once they got into the coaches the wild cattle, it would take them two or three days
you’ll feel the horse limp a little bit, jump off, knock a shoe on and off again. We had to keep up with them wild cattle…it used to be a very quick job at that time.
At that time, there was a lot of these bunkers built during war time that you’d crawl in, you know…well that’s all covered over now. We used to sit in those old fox holes because the wind
to calm down. I tell you they were
We couldn’t fit much in our saddle
used to be very cold in the winter.
very slow to drive along, you know,
bag, lunch in there, and chunks
Usually, we sat on horses and not
from camp to camp. So we had
of salted meat and we had to just
inside a house.
special people doing that, but we
tear it open. We’d eat it as we’re
was always on the outside, in case
we find more wild ones and bring them in.
They bought the bull buggies in around about ‘64 or ‘65 maybe.
We would never see the station
That’s why I left, I knew that was
owner but on the cheque we used
happening. I caught the tail end of
We used to have a cook and old
to get under the signature was
the good station days, without the
Austin truck, they used to set up
‘Trustees of Mark Rubin’. So he
helicopter and bull buggy. And the
camp in any new area that we
was the owner. I’ve never ever
sheep, the wool price dropped here
came into. We used to sleep on the
seen him. His son was around a
and they were getting rid of the
ground, we had our own swag…eat
sheep as well. There was nothing
out of a plate, no tables or chairs. In the mustering camps, we had a cook and a yard man to keep the fire going, and collect wood.
All the cattle would ship out of Port Hedland. And we used to tail the cattle...to put on the ship, around the race course. There
really left on the station for me because I was a horseman…It’s all done, and I’m not going to stand around just opening the gates.
Photograph of Peter Derschaw as a young man, photograph by Jetsonorama, 2014
My childhood name is Amy Coffin.
Derschow, by hand, it was like a
I was born in Redcliffe, well, that’s
washing machine used to be white
what they used to call it then. My
as anything. I was moving around
grandad started the station there
all the time, until the first job I had
and he died- poor old fella. I was
when I was on the station with my
born in the cart shed, out on the
aunty, they would give me shoes,
station, these days BHP has got a
or a hat. The only place I got a
canteen there. I left when I was
pay was for ten shillings, then I
three years old. I’m eighty eight
got a raise, it was for around two
now. We had four brothers but
they’re all gone, only five of us left now out of six girls.
I used to get up about three o’clock in the morning, cooking
We went to Western Shaw,
for about forty people, especially
prospecting around with a horse
at mustering time. I used to go
and cart; we went past Hillside
get the bread, mix it up, go and
Station, right out to a place called
do the washing, cook breakfast.
Tippleton, rolling around like
The boss got smart, and I walked
gypsies. They used to get gold and I
out, you see. I just took off. On
liked using the tomahawk, but once
the weekends they’d let us go into
I chopped my cousin’s finger, and
she had blood coming out. I wasn’t left alone after that and they took away the tomahawk.
I was at Woodstock with mum, my husband rode a bike down to Woodstock, he was on Mulga
There was no playing with dolls,
Downs but he had a fight with Lang
but climbing trees instead. Once
Hancock. Les was cousin for Lang.
I found a mud lark nest with my
We got married; he’s back on the
sister. Mum and dad was on the
horse and straight out in the bush,
other side of the hill, working. “Let’s
kids crying out in the background.
get up and get the mud lark, have
My husband rode a bike down
a look at it,” I said. “No dad might
to Woodstock, he was on Mulga
see me,” she replied. “No, I’ll watch
Downs, but he had a fight with Lang
out,” I assured her. She climbed up
Hancock. It was wartime when we
the tree, and I told her to throw it
were married; the Japanese bombed
down, as soon as it hit the ground
the airport in 1942, that’s why I
the birds were finished.
couldn’t come in from Woodstock
As I got older they used to send me to the station. I’ve never seen women wash clothes like Nanna Amy Coffin in her Port Hedland home, photograph by Jetsonorama, 2014 183
to have Peter. When we used to hear a plane we’d run for our lives, duck behind the bushes.
I wasn’t working then. When he
boss left cool room open- Maggie
White flour bags, hessian, we used
was born, we waited and waited
was the worst. Maggie, maggie
to boil them and I’d sew them with
for the shearing team to come,
its open. Singing out. The Mrs,
my hands, sew clothes, my dress,
early morning in the big ’42 blow. It
right behind, I come to shut it. Oh,
just about end of the war we was
flooded town, water went right up
heavens, she nearly dropped dead.
still giving coupons then. Women
to the bar. We were sleeping out in a tent, under a bough shed. My Dad used to cart sheets of iron and then just put bushes and Spinifex on the side, used to be cool.
This old man, old Scotty Black used to be out the doggers, we used to have Sunday off. Oh, I know them. We could have lunch home, boss, Amy, did you make a cake for
used to dress like the men. I do crocheting, some lady showed my sister and I’ve carried on. I used to knit too. But there were no knitting needles during the war. I used to make my own knitting needles
Dad used to shoot all night, my
Scotty to take bush? No, well you
brother and I used to get up, skin
can go and do it. I had to go and
all the roos and hang them. I don’t
cook this cake. I put all the herbs,
Strikers used to have plenty of
know how much we would get; I
spice, put it in that cake. Make one
tucker, tins of jam, couldn’t read
never used to handle money. They
for the boys out back too, made
had to open it to find out what was
used to paint it with brine. In our
another one. What happened she
inside. They were striking for a
T-model Ford, we’d tie ‘em up and
gave the wrong cake away to Scotty
the truck used to get them. First
Black, he was stuck one with the
pay I got was one dollar, cooking
backfired on us badly.
for forty people, with no washing machine.
Used to get gold, tin, knew how to work. Station people said they’d
Oh, we did alot of funny things.
starve, but they had so much
Sometimes the manager’s wife was
We used to get sheep meat on the
around, used to have fun trying
station, we had to kill the sheep
to dodge her. I used to sew, break
to get the dripping. At Bonney
the needles, with hand and foot-
Downs we would make a roast, or
machine. Every time they go away
a stew, lamb fry. They used to kill
we’d get into the phone, wind it up.
a bullock, I would dress that on my
Sometimes ring, Nullagine just to
own. Hang it up there to sit, go out
be a nuisance, other ones had no
mustering, cut it all up, that’s all
from fencing wire.
We used to like going across the
They used to have a lot of sugar, go
sandy creek and jump onto the
in with a knife, chop it up, we used
spokes and go for a ride. We used
to run out of sugar, Aunty Maggie
to live on pig melons cook it with
used to jump through the window,
sugar if we had sugar put it in
another time they had box of eggs
the meat for veggies, biggest mob
there, all her foot was full of eggs.
everywhere. They wasn’t wasteful
Blame the tom cat. When they’d be
sitting having dinner, we’d be The
Amy Coffin as a young woman on the station, photograph by Jetsonorama, 2014 184
On the way to the shearing shed, Minderoo Station, around 1914, Forrest Family and Minderoo Station, Courtesy State Library of Western Australia
Black Eureka! Jolly Read, Author, Kangkushot, The Life of Nyamal Lawman, Peter Coppin and Yandy, the award winning play about the 1946 strike. On a winter’s day in June 1863,
event was recorded in the journal
ore industry that developed across
three Kariyarra men set off from
of the government surveyor,
the rich Pilbara spinifex covered
camp to a nearby mangrove inlet
Ridley, who wrote that both parties
on the north west coast bounding
‘making friendly signs, advanced
their traditional country and the
towards each other, but their
vast Indian Ocean.
courage failed them when within
They called this place Marapikurrinya and because of three reliable fresh water soaks in
two or three hundred yards of us, the natives made off for the sandhills’.(2)
Those first recorded shared ‘friendly’ gestures quickly transformed into the heavy hand of authority as squatters and explorers ventured north, staking claims over the Pilbara lands that
the area it was a popular meeting
On that day, June 23rd, unbeknown
for 60,000 thousand years had
place. In the clear turquoise
to those three retreating men,
belonged to 31 traditional language
harbour waters, fish of all varieties
Marapikurrinya was already lost to
groups successfully living within
‘were teeming and along the banks
them. The government navigator
sophisticated social, religious and
of the mangrove creeks, where
on board, a man named Hunt, had
the beautiful jabiru stalked, they
decided to name the harbour after
found crabs and oysters.’ (1)
Hedland. From that day onwards,
The men were standing in the surf fishing with their spears – as their ancestors had done for millennia - when they were confronted by a bizarre sight. It was like nothing they had seen before. A wooden barque with four strange figures, men like them but fully clothed and, astonishingly, white skinned, were standing on the deck as the boat entered and dropped anchor in the inlet that Captain Peter Hedland had first sighted two months earlier. The
the Kariyarra men’s lives - along with the destinies of thousands of Aboriginal people across the ancient and wide Pilbara lands were to change forever. Marapikurrinya became Port Hedland and in the next 50 years it was developed by the colonists from the Swan River Settlement 1700kms south as the main north west port for its sheep and wool industries, later cattle and finally 100 years later, the major exporting port for the massive iron
Just 38 days after Hedland’s Mystery dropped anchor, a young man named Charles Nairn carved his initials into a white gum growing on a river bank, marking the first white settlement of the north west at De Grey station. Tragically for the traditional owners, within a few short decades vast tracks of land in the country they called Pilypara - meaning dry country in the Nyamal and Banyjima languages - were taken up by the squatters and their lives became subject to the restrictions and laws enacted by the colonial
authorities now in charge of
dirt floors, while others had their
because the boss used to have a
Western Australia. Those laws
children forcibly taken from them
meeting about the blackfella, every
were often brutally implemented
and sent to institutions under
place, everywhere, and maybe
to protect the squatters’ interests
harsh government policies that
another whitefella say, “Oh, they’re
and the so-called ‘pioneering spirit’
nominated local police as their
happy. They’re used to it, so keep
came to mean murder, sickness,
them like that.” Maybe they used
dislocation, cultural extinction and slavery for the Aboriginal people living in their distinct communities along the coastal lands, across the rust red gorges and ranges and into the Great Sandy Desert.
Pilbara Aboriginal people – like
to talk like that to keep us down.
Indigenous people everywhere -
‘It was cruel. My word, it was cruel
were not counted as citizens under
Australian law and by the early 20th century they had become virtual slaves in their own land.
By the mid 1930s, people were beginning to resent this disparity and their lack of freedom and
Top Nyamal Lawman, the late
wages. There was a growing
Peter Coppin – or Kangkushot
undercurrent of resistance and
as he was known – recalled: ‘...
discontent and eventually a white
in the early days...there were no
miner and contractor, Don McLeod
Aboriginal people sleeping in a
- who employed local Aboriginal
house, nothing. They don’t want
men and paid them well - was
any blackfella to sleep among
approached by a few concerned
them white people. So we were
leaders to discuss what action
kept separate. But they used to like
could be taken to improve living
our work, you know, when we were
conditions and give them proper
and pearling bosses. Men were
For their toil, they were paid a
After several years of planning, a
rounded up in chains by boundary
pittance or nothing at all, receiving
series of extraordinary meetings
riders, others - with their families
modest supplies of tobacco, flour
of more than 200 Lawmen from
- relegated to camps with no
and sugar. A white jackaroo on De
across the north took place at
housing along the river beds to
Grey station in 1877 was paid 5
Skull Springs in 1942. From these
become the stockmen, musterers,
pounds for his work, while in 1885
historic meetings, it was decided
cooks, housemaids and shearers
Aboriginal workers received no
that the station workers and their
for the pastoralists.
money for shearing 13,200 sheep in
families would go on strike on
International Workers’ Day, May 1,
These laws came to control every aspect of Aboriginal people’s lives from birth to death, including whom they could marry and where they could live; banning them from entering townships after sunset and placing them under contracts as indentured labour that barred them from leaving their employ without the permission of the station owners
As time went by, ‘mardamarda’* –
people fathered by whitemen who
As a young man, Kangkushot
claimed ownership of the land but
remembered, ‘We were all camping
The first wave left the stations as
not paternity - were consigned
there (in the river bank) in rain
planned, after Lawmen Dooley Bin
to the outskirts of townships in
time...They (the squatters) never
Bin and Clancy McKenna, under
corrugated iron humpies with
give us good houses...Nothing,
dangerous conditions, delivered on
foot and horseback secret strike
It was clean right through...We
be used as slaves on the stations.
calendars to the workers. They
came from every station, like from
We got no proper pay, no proper
were marked with a cross on May
Yarrie, Limestone, Warrawagine,
houses – just a bit o’ tin, a bit o’
1 and the days marked off until
all them sheep stations.’ (8)
paper bark, a bit o’ blanket, down
the cross was reached, designating the day to walk. The second wave followed in August when people from outlying stations came into Port Hedland on horse trucks and the train for the annual race meeting. They refused to go back, telling the white bosses and police that they were joining the strike.
The strike lasted three years, infuriating the Department
It was, in historical terms, the
pastoralists, and saw the gaoling
beginning of the movement which
with hard labour of McLeod,
eventually saw Aboriginal station
McKenna and Bin Bin for some
workers throughout Australia
months in Port Hedland. To
achieve award wages in the 60s.
survive, the strikers collected and sold pearl shell and buffel seed, they mined for manganese, beryl
strikers at the start that they must
and tantalite, went ‘yandying’ for
stay strong to fight the squatter
tin, and shot goats for their skins.
and the government, and keep
But there were plenty of starvation
‘Narawuda’ and all it represented
It was their ‘Garden of Eden, a paradise of waterlily pools, birds and rushes where the sacred sticks of the desert people were buried’. (6)
They endured great hardship,
As Professor Patrick Dodson, former Chairman of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation says, ‘The Pilbara strike was an important and inspiring milestone in the battle for justice, rights, equality and recognition for Indigenous people.’
physical danger, violence and threats from the government and police but they stood firm and their bravery and determination
‘We’re on the freedom track to
finally forced changes that helped
Narawuda,’ Clancy told them.
initiate the restoration and
‘Don’t sit beside the road!’(7)
recognition of the basic human
During the following months,
for Native Welfare and the
Bin Bin and McKenna told the
at the forefront of their minds.
in the river. That’s how we lived
rights of their people.
hundreds joined the strike from
Eighty three years after the three
27 stations across the Pilbara in
Kariyarra men took refuge in
what became Australia’s first
the sandhills, the 1946 strike -
major strike by Aboriginal people,
sometimes referred to as the Black
20 years before the famous Gurinji
Eureka - represented a huge step
strike at Wave Hill in the Northern
forward by Pilbara Aboriginal
people to regain their ground.
Kangkushot recalled, ‘Anyway, we
The old people remember that
all left. About 700 or 800 people
it was ‘a big story all right, that
from everywhere in the Pilbara.
strike. We were just blackfellas to
References 1. Hardie Jenny, Nor’Westers of the Pilbara breed, Hesperian Press, Carlisle, WA, 1988. 2. Hardie. 3. Read Jolly and Coppin Peter, Kangkushot, The Life of Nyamal Lawman Peter Coppin, Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra, Revised edition 2014. 4. Read and Coppin. 5. Read and Coppin. 6. Brown Max, The Black Eureka, Australasian Book Society, Sydney, NSW, 1976. 7. Brown Max. 8. Read and Coppin. 9. Read Jolly, Yandy, Black Swan State Theatre Company, 2004. *Mardamarda, literally ‘red red’, name for ‘half-caste’ in Nyangumarta language. (Orthography: Wangka Maya Pilbara Language Centre.)
Pastoralists Association of Western Australia 1932, Courtesy State Library of Western Australia
Spurs, photograph Claire Martin, 2014
I moved in to a degree in
Aboriginal people allowed to live
on their land, were those who
and photography and years latter
agreed (or were privileged enough)
found work as a photojournalist,
to work for free - for this right
all the while my lessons in ethics,
to reside in their own country.
anthropology, social work informed
All others were forced to live in
my story telling. I shied away
shanties and towns, completely
from photographing anything
divorced from their land, their
indigenous for fear of perpetuating
culture and their way of life.
When I was in University studying Social work I began to learn about Aboriginal history and culture. I remember even then sitting in class daydreaming about photographing
this paternalistic cycle, instead focusing on marginalization and stigma in developed countries and within predominantly white communities.
The most shocking thing I found on the trip was the unanimously fond recollection of this time among the Aboriginal station workers I met. It seems they felt like the
this culture. I can still picture the
When I received an invite to
lucky ones, able to maintain some
images I used to conjure up – future
photograph a story about the
of their culture – to live on their
photographs I imagined I would
history of Aboriginal stock workers
land, and indeed in this way, they
in the Pilbara I felt the time was
were. Resilience, strength and
right to try and capture those
humor, together with a strong
images I had conjured up all those
sense of pride seem to define the
years ago. I was to be travelling with
memories of this time. There is no
Sharmila Wood, a curator at FORM,
question that the Aboriginal stock
and Aboriginal anthropologist
workers and horse musterers were
Andrew Dowding, both of whom
exceptionally talented and hard
have a strong connection with the
Later in my degree, it was also these lessons on Australian Aboriginal history that encouraged me to abandon my career in social work. Lessons on the Paternalistic thinking that characterizes our history here, on the grave injustice that “good” white people inflicted on Aboriginals – some of them I
region and the people I met. I felt I was in capable hands.
Marlbatharndu Wanggagu - Once Upon a Time in the West is an
am sure believing whole heartedly
The history of Aboriginal
important story to tell, and I
that their actions were for the
stockmen, and domestic workers
commend FORM for initiating
greater good. Nuns, teachers,
on pastoral stations in the Pilbara
the project. It was certainly eye
government workers, police,
was some-what familiar to me. I
opening for me to see the pivotal
everyday citizens…. I did not want
knew that white people “employed”
role that Aboriginal stock and
to get caught on the wrong side of
Aboriginals to work their land
domestic workers played in
history, working within a cultural
for them. I also assumed that
developing the pastoral industry
paradigm that may justify and
“employed” meant forced to work
in Western Australia, particularly
sermonize ideas at odds with my
for free. What I didn’t know was
as this labour, and the imperialist
basic understanding of human
the conditions that this slavery
laws that drove it, are so often
rights, as these people had.
of sorts was justified by. The only
Evolution of the Painted Desert Project By Jetsonorama
“I’m just trying to keep a good feeling going round and around.”
of outsiders coming to take from
and white darkroom. After work I
The question I am asked frequently is what is an old black doctor doing wheat-pasting images of Navajo people along the roadside on the reservation? It’s an unlikely journey. However, upon further inspection it makes perfect sense.
them leaving little in return. My first year here I set up a black would go out into the community to spend time with people as they were doing chores around their homesteads or hanging out with their families, often getting to photograph these experiences. I’d started shooting black and white film in junior high school.
I came to work at a small clinic
My junior high school experience
on the Navajo Nation twenty six
at the Arthur Morgan School in
years ago, bright eyed and full of
the mountains of North Carolina
idealism and misconceptions. My
was unique and in retrospect was
first misconception was that as an
instrumental in influencing my
African-American I’d be accepted
efforts to contribute fully to my
by the Navajo who’d share a
sense of solidarity with me as a member of a historically oppressed group like themselves. Wrong. I learned quickly that people here are focused on addressing their daily needs such as herding sheep, hauling water, firewood and/or coal and taking care of family. Acceptance into the community is hard won. They have grown weary
Hugo’s House, Arizona photograph and paste up by Chip Thomas 195
During my family practice residency in West Virginia during the early 1980s, I’d make frequent trips to New York City hoping to see break dancing on street corners and burners on trains. My dream was to become a member of the Zulu Nation and it was during this time I started experimenting with graffiti.
Public Health Meets Public Art The Navajo should be one of the wealthiest groups of people living in the U.S. However, because of the way the contracts were written to exploit those natural resources, the Navajo people are amongst the poorest people in the U.S.
living in the U.S. However, because
My first intersection of public
of the way the contracts were
art and public health occurred
written to exploit those natural
shortly after I arrived on the
resources, the Navajo people are
reservation. Concerned with
amongst the poorest people in
what we considered irresponsible
the U.S. Health problems on the
advertising in that it was
reservation reflect those of other
promoting cheap, sugary drinks
in a population plagued with
Rates of diabetes, heart disease,
Type 2 Diabetes, a community
hypertension, alcohol and drug
health nurse and I went out one
abuse, domestic violence, teen
night to correct a billboard on the
The Navajo Nation is located in the
pregnancy, interpersonal violence
Four Corners region of the United
are all higher than the national
States (U.S) The land area is 27,500
average. In the midst of what
square miles in size which is larger
many from outside the reservation
than the state of West Virginia.
characterize as overwhelmingly
It is home to roughly 160,000
dire circumstances, there are
people. Coal, natural gas, oil, and
people living lives of dignity,
uranium are found in abundance
celebrating the joys of family,
here. The Navajo should be one of
farming and community.
the wealthiest groups of people
Photograph courtesy of Jetsonorama
Building Community During my time on the reservation I had been following street art from a distance. Any time I’d go to a big city with graffiti or street art, I’d definitely notice it. In the mid 1990s I did a project I called the Urban Guerrilla Art Assault where I’d place black and white photos on community bulletin boards and in store windows in Flagstaff. In 2004 I travelled to Brazil for the first time and was blown away by the abundance, diversity and caliber of the street art. I returned to Brazil for three months in 2009 and art on the street made by the people and for the people consumed me again. There was one guy whose work I saw and liked as I moved around Bahia. His name is Limpo. It turned out that during my last three weeks I rented a flat immediately
two year archive of negatives
something at the other end to stop
along the roadside. I got a recipe
traffic coming from that direction.
for boiling wheat paste off the
This was my first validation
internet, talked with people
from the community to continue
at Kinko’s about how to make
pasting and it was my first
enlargements and away I went. My
insight into the potential of art to
first forays were at night. I pasted
promote economic independence
onto roadside stands where people
for the roadside vendors. More
sell jewelry to tourists venturing
importantly, I appreciated the
to the Grand Canyon, Monument
potential of this work serving as a
Valley and Lake Powell. As I
tool to bridge cultures and races of
contemplated doing this, I had to
consider how to introduce a new art form into a traditional culture? What imagery is acceptable? After stumbling a couple times, I settled on what I considered universally beloved Navajo themes such as Code Talkers, sheep and elders.
It is through these types of interactions with people as I’m installing art that I get to better know my community apart from the constrained interactions I have in the clinic. Many people don’t know I’m a doctor who has
One of my first pastings was of
been here for twenty six years
Navajo Code Talkers that I pasted
and that I have a sixteen year old
onto an abandoned, deteriorating
half Navajo son. I defend what
jewelry stand along the highway to
I’m doing by telling people that
my project is a mirror reflecting back to the community the beauty
above his studio. I spent every
I was shocked a week later as
day in his studio talking with him
I drove by the stand to find
and street artists from around the
people out repairing it. Curious,
world who’d stop by to share ideas
I stopped. The guys working on
in sketch books, videos online
the stand didn’t know I was the
and street art books. Their energy
person who’d placed the Code
and enthusiasm were infectious.
Talker photo there. They said that
As I left Brazil, the street art
so many tourists were stopping
Last summer I decided to pursue a
community that had embraced me
to photograph the stand; they
dream suggested by a fellow street
and said, ‘keep it going!’
decided to repair it and start using
artist to invite some of my favorite
it again. I asked if I could take a
artists out to the reservation to
photo as well and then told them
paint murals and to work with
that I placed the image there. They
local youth. I called this The
responded by asking me to put
Painted Desert Project.
When I returned to the U.S., I decided to enlarge and start wheat pasting images from my twenty
they’ve shared with me over the past quarter century. It is my hope that a stronger sense of self and collective identity is nurtured through the images, which thereby strengthens the community.
The Painted Desert Project The Painted Desert Project hates
and that the community feels enriched or vice versa.
stereotypes, respects the unique
Last summer as the first group of
culture in which it operates and
artists was preparing to leave we
did something I’d never done in my
Before the first group of artists came out last summer to paint murals (which included Gaia, Labrona, Overunder, Doodles, Tom Greyeyes and Thomas ‘Breeze’ Marcus), I sent to the non-Native American artists copies of a chapter on the Navajo creation story, a book of images and
long tenure. We invited members from the community to my house to share a dinner with the artists. It was a simple meal shared around a candlelit table outdoors under the stars. How can this type of rich exchange not inform my medical practice, which like my art practice attempts to heal?
observations about the land and
So, what’s an old black doctor
the people, a beaded item from one
doing wheat pasting on the Navajo
of the roadside stands and a film
nation? Like the brothers told me
(‘Broken Rainbow’), in an effort to
in Brazil, I’m just trying to keep
sensitize the artists to the different
a good feeling going round and
world view here. I attempted to
pair artists with various roadside stand owners and arranged for sweat rituals with tribal elders to bless our efforts and give the artists an idea of acceptable imagery and Navajo taboos. It is important that artists come to the project without preconceived ideas of what they’re going to paint. They should also have enough time to interact with community members and absorb this land of enormous skies and stunning landscapes, then create work that reflects this interplay of cultures and landscape. My hope is that the artist leaves enlightened Paste up inspired by Jetsonorama, Photograph by Lillian Frost, in Wedgefield, 2014 198
Seeing the Desert by Julia Fournier
My husband and I drive through the Diné reservation four times a year on the way from our home in Phoenix, Arizona to see friends in Colorado. The trip has become a welcome ritual over the past twenty five years, since it takes us into the company of loved ones, once young like us, now old like us, waiting at the other end of our journey to tell and listen to stories, laugh and cry. We have traversed these same roads for over two decades. The landscape of the road could be perceived as monotonous to people rushing through, impatient to get to whatever it is they are on their way too. Maybe we are a bit weird. We love the road and the landscape. We keep track of the changes, which are few, and exclaim over the same beauty year after year: the sky in its blueness, the clouds and their whiteness, the red or yellow brown land. Sometimes there is a lone horse, with or without a rider or the clouds gift us shapes that remind us of animals or people, even maps of countries. At some point, somewhere along the road we started noticing manmade beauty at the margins of our road.
Paste Up inspired by Jetsonorama of Stockman, 1955 on Indee Station
Giant photographs, or were they paintings? Stuck to the sides of abandoned or unfinished buildings and obsolete tanks, we were confused by them at first. What were they? What did they mean? The speed limit throughout the Diné Reservation takes you through the vast landscape rather rapidly. At first, these images flew past our peripheral vision like ghosts. We tried to take mental note of where they were so we could take it in on the way back through. In September of 2010, we finally stopped to have a look at a handful of the pieces. We tried to watch out for never-before-seen-by-us pieces as we travelled through in November of 2010. We stopped off during that trip and photographed some of the work. After posting a few of the pieces online one woman gave me a name to search: Chip Thomas. Then one day, by coincidence, a high school acquaintance came into our gallery and shop, had a look around, and upon leaving said, “I have a friend on the Navajo reservation, I think you would like his art, I’m going to introduce you.” We were introduced to Chip, known as Jetsonorama in the street art community. I was happily surprised to find out this was the artist we had so admired all this time. We began to follow him on social media and invited him to participate in shows at our gallery in Phoenix.
As The Painted Desert project grew, and the art and artists expanded, the road became more beautiful, more punctuated with images. Unless you have travelled the road, or at all, it is difficult to imagine how different it is to encounter street art in this context. Instead of large images in a dense urban setting on multistorey buildings, The Painted Desert Project pieces are scattered across miles on antiquated industrial leftovers, ramshackle structures and abandoned billboards. Sometimes the pieces seem to be drawing you in to their content and sometimes the pieces call your attention to the circumstances that led the “canvas” to become available. “What happened to the people who lived in those trailers?” you might think as you speed past “Why are these roadside stands abandoned?” Each piece exists in solitude, in a singularly vast and beautiful environment but speaks somehow to the other pieces, as well as to the earth, sky and clouds that surround it. The pieces may speak loudest of all to those of us driving by on the road to somewhere else. “See me,” they say as we go whizzing past, “wonder about me.” Julia Fournier is a former school teacher who now jointly runs The Hive Gallery + The Bee’s Knees resale clothing store with her husband, Stephen. They are the parents of teenage twin boys.
As you know this project has been
Aboriginal men and women, who
about the stories of Aboriginal
worked on the stations were an
Andrew Dowding, the Ngarluma anthropologist engaged with the project spoke to Reko Rennie about his experiences working on Marlbartharndu Wanggagu.
experience on Stations in the
important and integral part of the
Pilbara Region, have you got any
success of these stations. And that’s
personal stories about your family
something you can’t deny.
working on stations or farms in this era?
Australia and how Aboriginal
My grandmother and her younger
people survived on these pastoral
brother were kidnapped from their
stations. And this is information
camp on Kamilaroi land, as part of
needs to be shared and told.
former government policy where they unfortunately, like many other Aboriginal children never saw their family again. My grandmother was then enslaved at Angledool mission, learning to perform domestic duties and other practises that would lead the children to be then moved on. Later as a young teenage girl she had to serve another mandatory term of enslavement as part of the Sixpence program on a large
Do you have any reflections on the 99 year lease expiration in 2015 for pastoral stations in the Pilbara? Some of the pastoral stations have large iron ore and precious mineral deposits within the station, how does this not become an issue? I think it’s problematic to grant an individual or organisation a 99 year lease and as a condition of the lease, their main economic stable is to derive from pastoral activities.
pastoral station in northern NSW,
In areas like the Pilbara, its mineral
and iron ore deposits are much
Her brother escaped from Angledool mission and later worked at Dungalear until they walked off the station in protest during 1954.
more lucrative then the activities of a pastoral station. I don’t understand how a pastoral station could operate and have agreements with mining organisations on the
What do you think is the
same property. It seems strange,
importance of telling these stories
but then I’m only an artist.
about these men and women?
Neon installation, Always was, Always will be, by Reko Rennie, 2014
It’s also about the history of
You were able to travel to the
It’s very important these stories
Pilbara and meet some of the
are told, remembered and shared
Aboriginal men and women who
with the rest of the community and
worked on stations, how was this
made part of our collective history
experience? What ideas, thoughts,
emotions remained with you after
you left the Pilbara. It was an experience I will never forget. The wonderful opportunity to be invited onto Yandicoogina traditional land and listen to his passion for the land and life on the station. But also it was chilling and emotional to hear the stories of survival, enslavement and the way of life Aboriginal people were subjected to on a daily basis. There were many emotions and it also caused me to reflect on how life was for my grandmother and any other young Aboriginal man or woman working on a station. It was real tough work, the men were tough as nails and the woman were even tougher to survive and
them in his name and left a large legacy was very interesting. I’ll never forget our visit to Roy Hill Station and the attitude of the station boss, telling us not to publish any myths about
and the fact is that it was stolen and then operated on, doesn’t change a thing. It’s also a reminder that pastoralists are squatters on Aboriginal land.
Can you describe your work in this exhibition, and give us an insight into how it responds to the personal histories your carry as well as the recent experiences in
about the real pastoral history of
the Pilbara. The works vary from neon designs,
to text, to an old painted station
And another story I heard was a former post office worker, who didn’t pass on all the mail about mining licenses to the intended recipients and instead registered
because it still is Aboriginal land
Aboriginal people working the land. If it wasn’t for Aboriginal people working the land, Roy Hill Station wouldn’t have survived. I mean who would of done all the necessary hard work, all day, everyday, for rations?
endure what they did during those
It was great to hear all the stories and in particular I liked the one about people squaring their differences. For one example, if an Aboriginal man had a grievance with the boss you could challenge him and take him on in a sort of station boxing ring. And as we heard some Aboriginal blokes got to give the boss a good hiding and then they’d shake hands.
‘This Land is Ours” on the truck
truck. There were so many amazing quotes about life on the station, from the ‘Sweeteners’ to ‘We worked for Rations’ and one of the best was “Pastoralists = Squatters”. That was why I decided to paint the truck with these quotes from the period. The truck once served and worked on a property and it seemed right to decorate the truck with quotes and text about life on the property. It also a reminder of how political it all was and still is. I painted
The neon work with the two spears and the cowboy hat and yandying bowl down the bottom, symbolises the Aboriginal men and women who worked the land and survived. It’s a symbol of power and survival Australia.
Reko Rennie, Pastoralists = Squatters, 1954 international AR 110 Truck, 2014 205
We worked for rations, graphics & Stolen Land, 1954 international AR 110 Truck, 2014
Neon Insignia, by Reko Rennie, 2014
Horseshoe, photograph by Claire Martin, 2014
FORM gratefully acknowledges
Principal partner IBN Corporation,
of this project and their courage,
the contribution and support
in particular the support of the
artistic excellence and dedication
of the following Marlbatharndu
entire IBN board and Chairperson,
to their practice, which inspires,
Wanggagu, Once Upon a Time in
Lorraine Injie who also provided
provokes and illuminates.
the West partners and individuals:
support, advice and guidance throughout the project in her role as Project Officer, Lore, Language and Culture.
Jolly Read, and Dr Maryanne Jebb who provided well researched and expert writing and advice on histories related to the project.
The entire IBN Staff, including Patricia Ansey, and Jon Aitchinson also played key roles and helped to make the project a reality, as have Jubillee Pagsuyuin, Denise Dann, Daniel Brown, Shannon Wilson, Chona Pawloff and Chris Duris. David Fernandez and Joyce (Jugari) Drummond from the Tom Price office provided invaluable support on the ground.
Andrew Dowding, Tarruru Anthropologist, who led, developed and conceptualized the project, with Sharmila Wood, FORM Curator. Sean Byford and Irene Schneider who helped make the project possible. Viet Nguyen and Ryan Stephenson for their design and IT. Travis Kelleher and Andrew Nicholls for research and transcription.
Weâ€™d also like to thank Grant Bussell, former CEO for his passion and commitment to ensuring the Aboriginal perspective on the station era was captured and celebrated.
Lauren Nemroff of the Google Cultural Institue who we are partnering with to host the project online so these histories can reach a worldwide audience. Raleigh Seamster from Google Earth
The State Library of Western
Outreach, for her ongoing support
Australia, National Library of
of Indigenous communities in
Australia, State Library of Victoria
many different countries.
and State Records Office of Western Australia for providing access and use of their images.
Andrew Wilkinson from Charter Hall for his belief in the project.
Wangka Maya, for support on
Most importantly we thank the
Yinhawangka, Banyjima and
The photographer, Claire Martin, artist Jetsonorama (Chip Thomas) and Reko Rennie for being part
Nyiyaparli people for sharing their station stories, the elders and old people who lived courageous lives.
Published by FORM
ISBN 978-0-9872624-8-6 Project by Sharmila Wood and Andrew Dowding Cultural Advisor Lorraine Injie Designed by Folklore Brand Storytelling FORM Building a State of Creativity 357 Murray Street, Perth, Western Australia 6000 T. + 61 9226 2799 F. + 61 89226 2250 firstname.lastname@example.org www.form.net.au
Project initiated and delivered by
FORM is supported by the Visual Arts and Crafts Strategy, an initiative of the Australian State and Territory Governments. FORM is assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.
Yinhawangka, Banyjima and Nyiyaparli Station Stories
Marlbatharndu Wanggagu | Once Upon a Time in the West explores histories and stories of Aboriginal stockmen, rural, and domestic workers on...
Published on Oct 20, 2014
Marlbatharndu Wanggagu | Once Upon a Time in the West explores histories and stories of Aboriginal stockmen, rural, and domestic workers on...