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

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Respondent Interviewer
IN 00:00:00 OUT 00:11:45
Trish FitzSimons
Joslin McCabe
Griffith Film School
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06 - 02 of 02
3 June 2000
Transcript updated 16 December 2009. Timecode refers to tape 06_BC_DV Topics in Bold
Braided Channels of History Recording & Transcript - 06 - 02 of 02
Education Childbirth
PTB Refers to Part B of Tape 06
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Joslin Eatts
Interview with Joslin Eatts. Tape 1 of 4 Interviewer's hands come into the shot quite a bit at the start of the interview. No obvious sound issues.
part of:
Braided Channels of History Recording & Transcript - 06 - 02 of 02
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06_BC_DV_PTB_EATTS-raw.txt — 10 KB

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                                 3 June 2000
                    Transcript updated 16 December 2009.
                     Timecode refers to tape 06_BC_DV
                                Topics in Bold

                     I = Interviewer      R = Respondent


      Erica Addis on camera. This is DAT Tape No.3 for the Channels of
      History project. Interviewing Joslin Eatts in her home in Leo Street in
      Mt Isa and the current time code on the camera is 28.07. It is half-way
      through Camera Tape 6.

I     So Joslin, I’d like to just get a sense of your life because I actually don’t
      know that at all. So I’d like you to tell me where and when you were born
      and what your name was and what your parents’ names were.

R     00:28:19:19    Okay, well I’m a McCabe, that’s our family name. My father
      was Harry McCabe and my mother’s Alice Wilson. And we come from the
      Boulia area, which on my mother’s side is the Pitta Pitta Groups and my Dad
      comes from the Murrawalli Kurrawalli Group which is the Channel Country.
      And my Dad was born in his country and my mother was born in hers and I
      was born in Winton, just on the edge. My life out there, mostly in the
      Channel Country was probably after Mum and Dad got married and I was on
      the way and the first thing I remember – I think I must have been about four
      years old – and I remember my Dad had two camels. My Mum and Dad had
      two camels and I used to ride on them. Oh, boy oh boy, what a time. And I
      had pets. I had bilbies and I had a pet snake and my Mum killed the snake
      and I remember I cried for weeks. After that, it was just roving the country.

      00:29:39:19    That’s most of my young life was in the bush, with them, and
      then we finally sort of, Mum and Dad left there. Maybe the work had slowed
      down by then, so they went to Winton and Boulia and they did different
      contract jobs. My Dad has always worked out in the open and always on his
      own. Mum mostly too, with him, other than when she was having another
    baby – my brothers and sisters which were born in the four towns of the
    West, that’s Hughenden, Boulia, Winton and Mt Isa. And other than that, we
    just mostly stayed in the bush most of our life until my Mum and Dad split
    up and the family split up. So my Mum took my two brothers and sister and
    I stayed with my father. And I never saw them for a long time after that, and
    all I can remember was bush. Fences. Poles and posts and all that stuff that
    Dad worked with. I mostly stayed with him until I got married and then I
    sort of went away and come back. Always come back to Dad and always
    went back to Winton. He was still cutting posts and even when he, before he
    died, he was doing, what do you call? Fowl houses, still building fowl
    houses and garden sheds for people. So he died when he was 87 and my
    Mum’s still alive. And that’s it.

I   That that you’ve just told me I’m really interested in and would love to
    unpick and get in more detail.

R   Okay.

I   So your father was Murrawalli Kurrawalli, your mother was Pitta Pitta, you
    were born on the outskirts of Winton. Do you know the circumstances of
    your birth?

R   Childbirth/Race Relations – equal pay

    00:31:38:06    Yep. Well, I don’t remember it, of course, but my Mum and
    Dad told me that when she was ready to have me, we were working
    somewhere down near Currawilla or somewhere down the back blocks of the
    Channel Country anyway, and they were fencing and yard building and so
    they packed this couple of horses up and apparently Dad got Mum to Winton
    just in time for me, and she had me and then they just packed me in the
    saddle bag and we went back to the Channel Country again. I said to Mum
    and Dad ‘Thanks for that’. But anyway, I guess, I think for at least four to
    five, maybe I was probably about maybe four, five, round about five years
    old and I sort of, we moved around a lot. We never had any permanent place
    because, by then, in 1934 my Mum and Dad got married and then they just
    worked around there, up until about the 1942s or ’45 when the one of the
    Acts come in that Aboriginal people had to get paid equal wage. Well most
    of our people moved. They left Springvale and Diamantina Lakes Station
    and, of course, my grandfather was the same. He was born out there in that
    country, spent most of his life there until he died, and he’s buried in Winton.
    He never left either and, actually, hardly any of our family ever left.

I   It was a long, slow process. It’s a confusing history, that one about wages,
    isn’t it?

R   Yes.

I   Because, as I understand it, that first Act, back in about 1898, wages were
    supposed to be paid but it got ignored.

R   00:33:39:03    Yes, that’s right. Yeah. Well, when the Welfare Act came in,
    which was the most worst, degrading Act that this government had ever, ever
    put together, and the reason they did it was because there was too many
    Aboriginal half-caste kids around and too many old people and, as I said,
    they probably foresaw what would possibly happen.             They wanted the
    Aboriginals out because by then they were quite settled in their little places
    and there was too many of the older people.            Their culture has gone
    completely. So, what they did, they just herded them in and mostly kept
    them and put them on reserves, which there’s still evidence of the reserves
    down there now, which I’ve done a lot of research.

I   Cherbourg and

R   00:34:34:10    Oh, no. This is out here in this country. A few of them did
    go. The Native Affairs, of course, had control of everybody at that time and,
    of course, we had Dr Roth in Boulia. Oh very famous surgeon, he was. He
    was also not a very nice man. He’d dissect a lot of Aboriginal people in the
    hospital there and ‘I suppose you’re going to cut that out but I don’t care’.
    He used to dissect them for Darwin, on his …

R   He used to cut them up, cut Aboriginal people up in little pieces, their hearts
    and their brains, and stuff like that, so they could experiment, and their blood
    was tested to see what species they came from because he was very strongly
    engaged with Darwin. When Darwin came out here to Australia, Darwin
    also paid a visit to Roth in Boulia, but a very brief one because he took a
    wagon full of heads back with him and body parts.

I   Oh, this is all the … when you were saying ‘Darwin’ I was thinking of
    Darwin the place but you’re talking about Darwin’s Theories of Evolution.

R   No, Darwin the man. The Theory of Evolution. That’s right. And Roth
    somehow became embroiled in it, too, because he had the opportunity. He
    was the first Protector for Aboriginal people in Boulia, so it was a great
    opportunity for him to do that part and they both failed anyway, so they
    murdered for nothing, which is a pity I suppose. But at least those people
    just died for science.

I   You’re alleging that Ross actually killed people for dissection?

R   00:36:21:03    Yeah, of course he did. Everybody knows it. They all knew
    it. I didn’t know it because I was only, oh I wasn’t even born then. But my
    Mum and Dad, my Dad particularly, my Dad was a very smart man and, of
    course, we have Irish blood in us which means we’re not full-bloods, and
    they spent all their life in the Channel Country. The whole lot of it. Dad
    never left the place. In 1942 my Uncle Reg left, and around about 1943
    when he got married, my Uncle Bill left it about 1945 when he got married.
    And my grandfather left it round about the same, oh no, after the Kidman
    birthday party. My grandfather went down for that. He worked for Kidman
    at the time and he had a fall off a horse down there in Adelaide and he was
    very sick after that, so when he came back he retired from stock work and
    ended up in the ‘Curry Hospital for about four months after that. And he
    never went back. None of them ever went back because they would have
    had to pay them wages then. People like Milson and Shaws and all the
    others down there, they probably went downhill after that because they had
    no free labour any more. And they overstocked the properties, and even you
    can go down there at any time now and see the remnants of what they didn’t
    do. So I guess, I’m not blaming anybody, I guess it’s just the way the system
    was at that time, overtaking of all the lands, but they did destroy our people.
    The older ones, by 1924 the last old Aboriginal person was buried there.
    There were a few just after that and what didn’t go to the Missions, because
    my great-great-grandmother, that’s my Irish great-grandfather, great-great-
    grandfather, she was taken …

I   What was her name?

R   00:38:29:20    Her name was Dangri but he called her Jenny Lyn because he
    was Irish and he went to the Shearers’ Strike in Winton, got involved with
    that, shooting people, and he was on the Irish side. He was one of the rebels,
    of course, and they called a mountain just outside of Cannington, actually,
    which is below west of here anyway, after him.            It’s called McCabe
    Mountain, because Dagworth Station wasn’t far from there, so he was
    involved with all that shearing business and fighting and shooting and
    burning and all that and he was one that was sent to prison. So they sent him
    to St Helena Island in Brisbane and he stayed there until the First World
    War, so they give him an option to rot in jail or go to the front line, so he
    went to the front line and he survived all that. In the meantime, his wife was
    left at Diamantina Gate. She was a housemaid there.

I   Diamantina Lake?

R   00:39:33:02    Yeah.    So she was left there and there was quite a few
    Aboriginal people there at the time. Would have been about 100. A lot of
    older people too. There weren’t many kids because the half-caste kids were
    sort of taken away and a lot died out there too from disease and stuff.

I   Can I just interrupt?