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Braided Channels of History Recording & Transcript - 06 - 01 of 02 (Text)

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IN 00:00:00 OUT 00:26:53
Trish FitzSimons
Bid Campbell
Griffith Film School
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06 - 01 of 02
Recorded 2 June 2000 Updated 15 December 2009. Timecode refers to tape 06_BC_DV Topics in Bold Okay, so this is camera tape 6. This is still DAT tape 2. It’s 2 June 2000, interviewing Bid Campbell at her house in Mt Isa. Tape 06_BC_DV Okay, so we were just talking about history and …
Braided Channels of History Recording & Transcript - 06 - 01 of 02
Washing Floods
PTA = Part A of Tape 06
Recorded creative work created by permission of the copyright holder. Image created by permission of the copyright holder.
Elizabeth Campbell
Interview with Elizabeth 'Bid' Cambell continues.Tape 3 of 3 Includes CU footage of Bid's hands. Also footage of photos of Bid in colour and black and white.
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Braided Channels of History Recording & Transcript - 06 - 01 of 02
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06_BC_DV_PTA_CAMPBELL-plain.txt — 14 KB

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00:01:19:00    The only thing that I can remember that stayed in my mind
       was the Min Min Light. It seemed to be the only thing people seemed to be
       arguing about a lot, you know. Did it happen? Didn’t it happen? And I can
       remember sitting on you know, at the top part of Maxland and watching a
       light sort of coming from Boulia to Schofield’s letter box and fading out, and
       then later, you know, sort of come again and fade away, and there was no
       cars in those days. That was say in 1926, ’24. So there wasn’t any motor
       cars in those days. Today there is motor cars everywhere but not in those
       days you wouldn’t see any.

And what did you make of that?

Well, we didn’t worry about that much because we thought, ‘Well, it’s just
       one of these things. It’s the Min Min Light’ and that’s all you’d say about it.
       So whether it was the Min Min Light or what, there seems to be a lot of
       controversy about it, isn’t there?

There’s going to be a documentary on SBS very soon about the Min Min


I haven’t asked you, Bid – we’ll finish very soon – but floods. Tell me about
       what experience you had of floods, either as a child or as an adult.
Oh, well, at Strathalbert my husband was always terrified of floods. Every
    time, you know, big floods would come – the home was in, right on to the

Which river?

    00:02:46:00    The Burke River. And then there was a creek come around
    here like that and the home was in here, and every time it rained he’d get
    very nervy, you know, about this flood, because it was going to come over
    the house or under the house or whatever, and once it rained and rained and
    rained. It was very heavy rain, so he decided we had to go out onto this
    ridge. So Len was a little fellow. He can remember it. And he walked and
    we put a, like a bed, and we put Lyn and Jenny and Terry which were the
    little ones on that, and here Frank and my cousin, my nephew, carried the
    bed and I hung onto Len. We had to cross this creek to get out onto the
    ridges and we were out there for three days, I think, in a tent. And Lindy was
    a baby and I had two nappies on her and oh it was a terrible turnout. Terrible
    turnout. We had some potatoes, I think, we used to cook in the ashes and we
    lived out there for three days.

And did the flood go into your house?

No, it never went into the house at all but later years, after he died, it did
    come up to the house. But apparently when he was a child, his mother told
    me, he was around the Clermont area and that big flood that came through,
    and probably, you know, it’s still in his mind that water will go anywhere.
    And, of course, I’d never seen water going                  Once he was in
    hospital and he kept ringing up every day saying, ‘How’s the flood waters?
    Are you going to leave? Are you going to go out on the ridges?’ ‘Yes, we’re
    going,’ so we eventually told him we were going, took the phone off the
    hook, to give him peace, because he used to be terrified of water. Always
    afraid that the water was going to go over that …

So do you regard Strathalbert as Channel Country?
Yes. Yes, it is. It is the

So it was Channel Country but the channels in your part didn’t really break
    their banks?

No, no, no. It was more of a river. See, as it goes down further it spreads
    out, doesn’t it? It spreads all out into swampy areas. No, it’s just a big river,
    and very big. Big rivers are very big when they’re in flood and they’re in
    full flood they are.

So is there anything I haven’t asked you about, Bid? I’m wanting to learn
    about women of the Channel Country, past present and possibly future.

00:05:11:10     Well, you know it’s a pity that a lot of these people are gone,
    see. There is a name I can give you in – if he’s still alive – I’ll go and get

Let’s just finish and then I’ll unplug you and then you can get it.

There’s a name                           the Howard family. They were in the
    Boulia district before Mum and Dad, like, and if you could get … well old
    Tim did have a lot of photos and things which Charlie put in his book, but
    you can take the book and go through it. See if you can find anything you
    need. Probably find a lot of things in there.

How interesting. Oh is this a yellow book? Because Annette Gordon has
    two books about the McGlinchy’s. She had the one of yours and then she did
    have another book.

Yes. A red book. That’s the family reunion book. No, this was one that
    Charlie wrote on the Boulia Centenary, I think.

Oh, wonderful. And that was your brother Charlie?

Yes, a stepbrother, Mum’s oldest son. Yes. So that book … and there is a
    lot of, well there’s a lot of history in it, you know, past, when Boulia first
    started and how it started and everything in there. It’s a bit dry but, you
Charlie was Shire Clerk at one stage, wasn’t he?

Yes. He was … no, Charlie Robinson was really a wonderful man when you
    come to think of it. He had a family and he used to … he was shearing and
    he’d studied to be the Shire Clerk. He used to shear during the day and study
    at night.

And he was the one that took all the photographs? Is he the one? Because I
    know in Boulia we’re going to see a collection of photographs that were
    taken by the Shire Clerk – a Shire Clerk – that were very highly regarded, but
    I don’t know the name of the photographer. Would that be your Charlie?

Could have been.

Did he take a lot of photographs?

Not that I know of. Charlie was more …

No, so it was probably another …

00:07:08:20   Another Shire Clerk that was there. But no, Charlie was more
    of a … he was a dreamer more than anything. He’d walk past you, you
    know, and you’d say ‘Hello’ to him and he’d get a few steps past you and
    he’d swing round, ‘Oh, hello. How are you?’ So he was a sort of a dreamer,
    sort of a man, you know. His mind was way up somewhere else.

One last question, when you look say, at your daughter or your niece Nina,
    when you look at men and women living on the land now, what do you think
    has shifted since the days of your childhood?

Well, for a starter, they’ve got all these amenities that we never had, like
    they’ve got washing machines, they’ve got TVs, they’ve got a phone. We
    didn’t have a phone. We didn’t have a washing machine and, as for TV and
    even radio, like it was during the last war that I first heard a radio and my
    brother was over in Alexandra and Mum got an old wireless from somebody
    and it was full of static, you know, you could only hear it now and again, and
    that used to come over that … was it Sally Field that used to sing her songs,
    you know?

Gracie Fields.

Gracie Fields. The White Cliffs of Dover and all that, and that’d come on,
    you’d hear part of that and sometimes the soldiers, there’d be a message and
    we used to try and listen to that message to see if Len’s name was in that

So it was the First World War when you first heard a radio?

Yes, heard the radio. Yeah, you never had any of these amenities. They’ve
    got all those now.       Like, it’s like my granddaughter out there at
    Creek, she’s got a fax machine, you know, and she’s got a computer. We
    never had those things.     Never had nothing, really.      If you wanted to
    communicate with somebody, you wrote a letter.

And do you think that’s actually shifted life and relationships between men
    and women a lot, those amenities?

    Oh, I think they’ve got them closer together, I think, you know. Once the
    woman’s place was in the home and you just looked after the family and
    cooked and things like that. The women don’t have to work like they did
    like in my day. Like washing day in my day, you’d get up, you’d start in the
    summer, you’d start about four o’clock because you used to have to scrub
    like this and then put it in the boiler and boil it, you know, and you’d try and
    get it done before the heat of the day came on. Otherwise it was too hot.
    See, they don’t do that now.

Would that be a Monday, washing day?

00:09:53:00      Yes. A Monday or one day a week you’d have for your
    washing and then the next day you did the ironing. You ironed with the old
    iron. Well, they wouldn’t iron with those today. They’ve got electric irons
    today. No, no, I think it’s a big difference. They’ve got more leisure time.
    They go into the towns a lot more, which we didn’t do. The only time we
    went to, when I was a kid, went to Boulia, was when you got sick. If you got
    sick you went to Boulia.

So it was 16 miles away but you only went there when you were sick?

Yes. Mmmm. If you got really sick that Mum couldn’t help you, you went
    into the hospital, but I never was sick enough. I never got to the hospital.
    My sister used to get in a few times because she had bronchitis bad. She
    used to have to go in and she’d spend a week in Boulia and I used to be so
    envious. I used to think, ‘Why can’t I get sick?’

That sounds like Angela’s Ashes.

Mmmm. Yes.

The bloke is so happy to go to hospital and have just a simple warm bed.

Yes. You know, you look back now and think, God you were lucky you
    didn’t get sick.

So when did you first see cinema, Bid, and what films … did you ever see
    films like Girl of the Bush or On Our Selection, Wild Daughter?

Real Bush vs Film Bush

    No. Yes, I’ve seen On Our Selection. I think that’s just a lot of rot, I think.
    I think that’s … I don’t … we didn’t lead that sort of a life. Like they sort of
    make out in those movies that you, you know, you’re just a mug or
    something, you’re uneducated, uncouth and that, don’t they? I don’t agree

Especially the Ken G. Hall one, the 1930s one, yes.

00:11:26:04    Yeah they go too far, I think, just like, you know, that play
    they had they made a big thing of. What was that play? Oh it was … it was
    with shearers anyway and it … I can’t …

Not Dimboola?
No, no, not Dimboola. Before that. You know, he spoke with that …

One Day of the Year. No, not One Day of the Year.

No. That Aussie, you know, ocker language and that. Well the average
       Australian don’t talk like that. You don’t hear, you know, I’ve never come
       across them and I mean I’ve lived out in the west most of my life, so I don’t

So you didn’t think that the films that were about the bush were much …?

No, I didn’t think they were true to the average bush person. No.

Did you ever see Girl of the Bush?

No, I didn’t see that one.

A very good film.

Is it? I’d like to see that. I’ve seen the, what’s that one, the Seven Little
       Australians is it? I liked that. Yes, that was nice. That was a good movie
       but I can’t think of that damn         but it was a play anyway.

It’ll come back to you.

It was a play. I went and saw it in Townsville and I thought, ‘Oh, God, what
       a terrible image to give the average person who lives in Australia’.

So, Bid, this tape’s going to run out in a minute and I’m just going to stop
       taping but it’s been fantastic.



So Bid, we were just talking about -

       00:23:45:22    The Corroboree Tree. Yeah. You know the, the ah tourist
       brochures. You know they put out a brochure. There’s a galah, old galah
    tree out there by the school in Boulia, out in the Stony Ridge, and, and
    they’ve got a plaque on it to say this is where the Aborigines held their
    corroborees. Now I can remember back to 1923 and that’s when I heard of
    corroborees and it was down on the river. Down at the One Mile. Where,
    you know, where they all lived. And yet the tourists have got it there. But
    when it comes to somebody backing me up, there’s no one round to say well
    that is true that this happened then, not then – corroborees.

And are there Aboriginal people in the Boulia area that are your kind of age
    that –

Oh no, they’re all dead. And all the younger ones have taken over the
    University degrees and that and they just, you know,            right down.
    No, I don’t, I honestly don’t think Aborigines EVER corroboreed out on the
    Stony Ridge. Damned if I do. Usually around waterholes. That’s where
    they mostly lived.

And the One Mile that you were describing –

That’s a big water hole.

Near Boulia.

Below Boulia.

Right. And was that like a reserve for Aboriginal people?

    No. Just where they camped. The, see they used to camp. They have big
    camps on the, on the big waterholes and that’s where they lived and when it
    drained, of course they went walkabout down the rivers or up the rivers or
    whatever. Up to the Togo ? Ranges, you know. It’s only after big rains.
    They wouldn’t go otherwise and ah, that’s you know, I often think why do
    they want to change it? Why, why not stick to the truth? I mean, who’d
    want to go out in the Stony Ridge to have a party when there’s a big
    waterhole just about a mile away?
So what do you think is leading to those distortions?

00:25:33:06     Dashed if I know. Money I think. Yeah, money I think.
    Mmm. Like anything. Once money comes into it. You know, a bit of
    corruption comes in too, doesn’t it? So, can we make something out of this
    sort of thing? It’s like, you know, nobody wanted the land. Nobody wanted
    to go out in the bush and – but now if they find a mine, suddenly it becomes
    sacred ground. Like when they say that’s where their burials were. They
    never buried their Aboriginals. Get Dr Harvey Sutton’s book and you’ll see
    where they stick ‘em up in the trees. And yet they’re sacred burial grounds.
    So –

So in history and the kind of the history of Boulia, is that important to kind
    of tourists in the region now?

00:26:27:24     Oh well, I suppose it’s a story isn’t it? It’s a story, you know.
    It’s a tree that probably somebody was hanged out of or somebody died
    under or something or other and make a big story out of it. Jazz it up. Oh
    we’ll have to go and see that I suppose. Like all things like that.

Did you ever see any burials in trees?

No, I can’t say that I ever but there is, there is in ah in ah that book, ah of Dr
    Harvey Sutton’s. Have you ever read that book?


Well - ….., – what’s the Harvey Sutton’s name?

?   I can’t remember.

I can ….. …..

A legend, a legend in his time is it? Harvey Sutton?

    It’d be pretty hard to …… easy to find.

It’s easy to find Dr Harvey Sutton.
OK.      00:27:22:12