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Trish FitzSimons
Joslin McCabe
Griffith Film School
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3 June 2000
So this is Camera Tape 7, it’s 3 June, we’re with Joslin Eatts in her home in Leo Street in Mt Isa, and this is part way through DAT Tape 3. TC from Tape 07_BC_DV Transcript updated 16 December 2009. Timecode refers to tape 07_BC_DV Topics in Bold
Braided Channels of History Recording & Transcript - 07
Race Relations Education
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Joslin Eatts
Interview with Joslin Eatts. Tape 2 of 4 Start of this tape poor quality. Camera is making adjustments.
part of:
Braided Channels of History Recording & Transcript - 07
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Alice Duncan Kemp. No, better not. The family might sue me. They
        wouldn’t believe that but I’m sure.

Well, what I imagined that this documentary is going to end up doing is
        having different versions of history and putting them next to each other and,
        have you ever seen a film called Rashomon It’s a Japanese film, 30 years, 40
        years old now.

No, I don’t think so. I’ve heard of it though.

In Rashomon you get all these different views of history, or of a story, and
        you never really know precisely which one …

Which is the right one, yeah.

… which is the right one.

Yeah, that’s good. We need a little mystery.

So your grandfather was Harry McCabe.

No, my father was Harry McCabe.

Your father, I beg your pardon.

His name was Henry actually, Henry McCabe but, of course, everyone
        called him Harry.

And you spoke about, then, your great-grandfather who was the Irish
Race Relations – Inter sex

    00:03:21:03    Yeah. Ah, well my grandfather was Mick McCabe and my
    great-grandfather was the Irishman Jack McCabe. And he, of course, had a
    wife and she was an Aboriginal lady. She was a Kurrawalli and her name
    was Dangri but he called her Jenny Lyn, which was a pure Irish name. They
    had five children and my grandfather was one of them. The rest, I can’t tell
    you too much of their lives, I only know bits of their lives because
    grandfather never told us much at all and my Dad never told us much of the
    back history either. Most of Dad’s stories from … was culture stuff, and
    where the old people were buried, he always told us that so we could find
    them and look after them, which is what I’m doing now.

    00:04:17:12    But old Jack McCabe, I’ve found out quite a bit about him
    actually and, as I said, when he went to join the Shearers’ Strike, he left her
    at a station on the Diamantina and she worked there while he went and did
    his thing with the shearers and he, as I said before, he went to war with an
    option of fighting in the front and he survived that and came back. When he
    came back, she was gone. The Native Affairs had taken her to a Mission
    called Taroom and she died there. So I’ve never been able to go up to
    Taroom and have a look for her grave but I’ve got some documented
    evidence so nothing much I can do there.

Where is Taroom?

00:05:09:10    And Jack McCabe, apparently when he came back from
    Diamantina Gates, after he found out she was gone, he died along the side of
    the road and his grave is still out there, which I’m looking for. I found it
    years ago and took a photo of it but the photo must be misplaced but the
    grave is there because my father and I used to often visit it. So he’s there
    somewhere, but I will find him, and that’s part of their life, I guess, and they
    just stayed in the area. They never left it until mid-forties after the Kidman
    birthday party in Adelaide which my grandfather participated. He’s also in
    the Kidman Collection in Longreach in the Stockman Hall of Fame. There’s
    one big photograph, my grandad on a horse there, and that’s it. He died in
    Winton. He was about 70 and so he lived, he’s buried not far from Alice
    Duncan Kemp actually. So they were friends at one time.

So you grew up knowing much more about the Aboriginal side of your
    family than about the Irish one?

Yes. Yeah. We knew he was there but my Dad never spoke much about
    him, probably because he didn’t know him. He would have died about, I’m
    just trying to think of the date on that tombstone. It was in the twenties, I
    think, 1920, because he came back from the war in 1915.

When one reads a bit of the history, clearly, like sexual relationships between
    Aboriginal women and white men were going on all over Western

Race Relations – Inter sex

    Yeah, that’s right, they were. Well at the time when I did research on him, I
    just naturally assumed he was just one of those that just raped the women or
    lived with a woman and had their children and just took off. But he didn’t.
    They had five children and anyone with five kids with two nationalities, it’s
    for a reason. There had to be a deep affection there anyway. So it wasn’t
    just one of those things. Not like the rest of them. They were out there for
    what they could get because there was only, in the early days there was no
    white women at all.

I think there was something like one white woman for every nine white men.

Mmmm. That’s right, yeah. That’s right.

Have you ever read Tom Coles’

Yes, I have.

Well you know somewhere in there there’s like a sentence that says ‘We
    liked some station or other because the lubras were easy’.

That’s right.
And it’s like a sentence like that has a whole …

00:08:07:16     Yes, well he’s got Aboriginal descendants also. I mean, just
    about every one of them have. Costello has too. I’m not sure about Durack.
    I don’t think so but I think one of his sons was involved with raping the
    women out there. So Dad reckons, and he would have known because he
    would have got the stories from the old people see, and that’s how
    Aboriginal stories survive because they were passed down. But then there’s
    nothing written so it’s our word against theirs, but I believe him.

Do you think that Aboriginal people, like your name being McCabe, that it
    was mostly, and I’m thinking, say, of Ruby De Satge, that mostly took the
    name of the white father only when there was a kind of a relationship of
    substance as opposed to one …?

00:09:01:04     Mostly, yes. Throughout the history that I’ve researched, I’ve
    found that that’s quite true. That that was Aboriginal principle. They had
    very deep morals and principles, even though they were used and abused but
    that was something that they hung onto and I think spiritually, I think it was a
    way of telling their story too, on the other side of the tracks. Like the
    European side or the Irish, or whatever they were. Scottish or whatever. It
    was a way of leaving something behind, was a name. And, of course, the
    white people today don’t pick that up. I mean, there’s stacks and stacks of
    names around and you’ve only got to look at them. It’s like Watson out there
    and Currawilla, you know, and Moses.          He’s throughout Alice Duncan
    Kemp’s books. He was her leading man. Well, and Mary Ann. Watson was
    her father. He was a white bloke and he had the connections with Costello.
    But Moses was a full-blood and they sort of looked after him. He was
    respected but he was a different sort of a man, I guess, and there was conflict
    and Dad didn’t know … yeah, I think Dad did know Moses because he didn’t
    die till 1952. Moses was a very old man when he passed on. I haven’t been
    able to find his grave, but I will.

    And we were never told much about the white side. Mostly the black side.
    At that time you didn’t. They didn’t. The same as we weren’t taught
    language either, because we could have been sent to missions too. So I
    probably spoke it when I was a little kid but that’s about it.

So going back, then, to your story, Joslin. So you were born in Winton.

In Winton, yeah.

But your parents, do you know exactly … you said you got put into the
    saddle bag as a tiny baby …

Oh, yeah, then we went back to the Channel Country.

Where abouts in the Channel Country?

00:11:12:20    Oh, anywhere. Dad used to just, you know, there was camps
    all over the place and there’s still yards out there today, still called McCabe
    Yards, that my grandfather and my Dad and my uncles all built.

Where are McCabe Yards?

Ah, they’re all over the country out there.        We’ve got McCabe Bores,
    McCabe Yards, Springvale, lots of areas. Monkira we’ve got McCabe Bore
    down there. So there’s, you know, looking at a map today … I’m not sure if
    they’re still there but I think they are. Maybe not the yards but most of the
    older people, even the white people from around that area, they all knew
    about the McCabe family, so we’re all pretty well known.

So Joslin, your Dad was a fencer, was his …

Well, when he …

… was his skill, but he sold?

00:12:00:20    No. When they got out from under the Act in 1927, they were
    free to do what they wanted to do so they went into contract work. Contract
    mustering, contract fixing up yards and oh, all sorts of different odd pieces of
    work that they did, as well as working on the station too. But they had their
    freedom and the whole three of them, all my uncles and my grandfather,
    were all given exemptions in 1927, which means they were free.
And you got exemptions under the Act …

Under the Act, yeah.

… if your labour was defined as being vital to whites?

Race Relations – Kidman

    00:12:42:20 Yes. Yes. Yes. So they stayed there and I think they were
    paid a small wage but Milson and the rest of them out there still didn’t give
    them what they should have got. So even though … the Milson family is
    mostly the people that my family grew up with on Springvale Station and
    Dad always spoke highly of them. So if there was anything bad happened,
    he never ever said so. But it must have been very rare if something didn’t
    happen. And the rest of them, like the Shaws on Diamantina Gates and, of
    course, Kidman. Well, he was Number One out there because he did pay the
    Aboriginal people. The only one that ever paid them.

Oh really?

Yes. He didn’t care whether they were under the Act or not. Mmmm, the
    only one. And that’s probably why he was, today still …

He was hated by the white fellas.

00:13:39:00   Oh, hated by them, yes. Definitely. And Laura Duncan, too,
    Alice’s mother, was the same too. They were slightly outcasted too because
    of the same thing. They protected the Aboriginal people around the late
    1800s when the Welfare Act came down and it was slapped on every one of
    them regardless, and then, of course, Meston went out there and did his first
    report. But they protected them. There was a few stations out there that did
    protect them. They kept their … Milson was one of them, probably for
    work, my guess is, but then again, he may have had a heart too.

Now as I understand the system, and it’s complicated, so I don’t understand
    it fully, but as I understand it, yeah, from the late nineteenth century
    Aboriginal people were supposed to get some payment but most of it went to
    the Protectors and lots of it never got through.

Yeah. That’s right. Never got through because they used it for clothing. So
    if a dark person went in there and they wanted a dress for the women or
    boots or a hat or something for the children or something for the men, you
    know, stockman clothes and stuff like that, that was all put down as …

Against their wages.

00:14:58:00Yeah, against their wages, so by the time payday came there
    weren’t much around. Much left. And, of course, during the fifties all the
    books seemed to have disappeared. Round about the fifties. And, of course,
    Boulia was the main protective office. That’s where Ross was the very first
    one – Dr Roth – and then the next one was George Woods and it was sort of
    run by the pastoralists really.

George Woods was the one that took all the …

He was the photographer.

Photographer. And we’re going to see his photos?

00:15:29:20    Yeah, yeah. Well I’ve got every one of them because they’re
    all my ancestors. And he did probably, he wasn’t much of a man either. He
    was just like the rest of them but only one thing that stands him out above
    them all, in my eyes, is he took those photographs. He left us something
    unbeknown, you know. I haven’t heard anything much good about him
    anyway and a lot of the old people just say ‘Oh, he was alright’, you know.
    He used to ride around on a camel. He wasn’t odd, I don’t think, but anyway
    he married and he stayed in Boulia most of his life.

By odd do you mean homosexual?

00:16:09:08    Ah, no he wasn’t a homo. No. He had a wife and I think, in
    Boulia, so he spent most of his life there, and he died there and is still buried
    there. But, as I said, I haven’t heard nothing. He wasn’t a cruel man, Dad
    said, but he did take all those photos and he only took the photos of the
    Channel Country and Boulia. And they’re all my people. And that’s the best
    thing that that man could have left me. It’s more than a million dollars.
    Because he’s left me something. He’s left us something, our families. And
    one of the photos, my Dad’s in one of them. And that’s just absolutely
    wonderful. And, of course, Bogey, Alice Duncan Kemp writes about him
    also, well he left a couple of them and I’ve got another one and Dad took
    photos. When he was a young boy he was mad on photography.

Your father?

00:17:09:08    Oh yeah. He loved it. And Milson bought him this camera
    and he used to take all these photos of Aboriginal people. Now when my
    father died, I looked everywhere for them. I couldn’t find those photos and I
    knew he had them. So I took a run down to Sydney to chase the family up
    and he had them down there.

Who did?

One of the Milsons.

00:17:58:05    Yeah. Springvale Station is between Boulia and Winton. Or
    Boulia and the Diamantina.

So near Diamantina Lake?

00:18:05:10    Yes, it’s about 20-odd k’s away anyway. Well they were the
    two stations, they’re the two major stations in that particular area. The
    Springvale where all my family were born there, on my Dad’s side, except
    my great-grandmother’s. They were born down below Murrubri. That’s all
    their country down there. And that’s the Kurrawalli lot. And Diamantina
    Lakes, well I’ve got a lot of family there too, but it was a government-owned
    station in the early times, after the Shaws had it for over 20 years, and
    McCartney, of course, had a share in it and they were very wealthy people.
    McIlwraith was involved with a lot of it too.

Janet Holmes à Court
00:18:49:12    Oh, they bought that after the Milsons sold out, yeah, they
    bought it round about the eighties, I think. And then, of course, it was
    gazetted into a National Park and so is Springvale Station now, and then I
    lodged a Land Claim over the lot of it so we can get some of our, well get it
    all back, not some.

So I want to talk about the Land Claim stuff. Can we come …?


So just talking a bit more about your childhood.

Oh, my childhood. Yes, okay, well, as I said, my Mum and Dad busted up
    and Mum took my other …

How old were you?

00:19:28:10    I was about, Janet was a baby. I’ll just try and think. About
    1945-46 I think Mum and Dad busted up and she took the other children and
    I stayed with Dad and they were always fighting over us for quite a number
    of years. Dad would come and pick the kids up and we’d all be together for
    only briefly, then Mum would come and take the others back and I was
    always left with Dad and I used to often wonder why, you know, maybe they
    didn’t want me or maybe I was a rotten kid, or maybe, I don’t know what it
    was. But anyway …

Was it maybe that you and your Dad were especially close?

    00:20:12:09    I think so. Probably because I think I’ve spent just about my
    entire life with him, up until he died. And probably, even after I got married,
    it still was the same. Probably why I divorced my husband. Because I
    wouldn’t leave my father. So that’s probably it. But anyway, Mum ended
    up in Ingham, up that way with the children, the other two brothers and a
    sister, and she came and got me. I remember I was about 11, yeah about 11.
    She came and got me and took me up there and I didn’t want to go. I didn’t
    want to stay there and my Dad bought me a birthday gift, a pushbike – the
    first pushbike in my whole life, and I loved it. So I decides not to go to
    school this day. I packed my schoolbag, my sandshoes, and some food, and I
    was going to ride my pushbike from Ingham back home. I got as far as
    Townsville.     It took me two weeks to ride my bike from Ingham to
    Townsville and I was lost then. So I hid in the cemetery in Townsville for
    about another three more weeks, just lived on Burdekin plums and chunky(?)
    apples, and I was 12 by then, so I had to get a job, so I went and put my age
    up, got a job and I worked there for 12 months and caught the first train
    home to Dad. And I never seen Mum for a while after that then.

So this would all have been well, we’re talking the fifties here, so …

Yeah, about the fifties, early fifties it was, yeah.

So the Act would have been in force and you would have been under the Act,
    would you?

No. No, I was … we were lucky. As I said, Mum was exempted in 1938.
    My Dad, uncle, grandfather and two uncles and grandfather were exempted
    in 1927.

And what would you …

00:22:16:00    So that means Mum was still under the Act in ’38 and I was
    about a year old, so that’ll give you an idea of how old I am but don’t you
    dare put that down there. So I was only briefly under the Act for just a little
    while because my parents by that time, then, were exempted. So we were
    free and Mum and Dad could do what they wanted then. And mostly, as I
    said, after I was born they just worked contract work and that. But we had a
    topsy turvy life, my brothers and sisters, you know. At least they were
    together. I used to … you know we missed a lot together as kids, and today
    we’re still very close. We don’t …

Are you the eldest?

00:23:00:20    Yeah, I’m the eldest in the family, yeah. And Janet’s the
    youngest, and she goes to uni too. I said ‘We’re both stupid bloody people,
    going to university at our ages’. But no, she’s doing Mental Health, which
    is good.   That’s Stolen Generation and the effects, and it’s very well-
    deserved too. Where I concentrated mainly on history and culture.

And what was your mother’s exemption based on?

Ah, because she was half-caste and she was married. And she had a good,
    reliable husband, so they let her go.

And even after the marriage broke up …

Well, they were free. Nothing anyone could do about that then.

So once you were out of the Act, you

Yeah, you were free. That’s right, unless you did something wrong or you
    were starving, you couldn’t work. Now they were two exceptions. You
    could have been placed back on the Act.

And I think, if you were exempt from the Act you weren’t allowed to go to
    reserves, were you? You couldn’t contact your people who were under the

00:24:12:20    Oh, no. No, no. Well, when they took poor old grandmother
    Jenny away from Diamantina Lakes, there was five old people destined to go
    on the Cobb & Co.       Oh, it wasn’t Cobb & Co., it was the coach, the
    passenger coach that used to run from Windorah and Murrubri and all those
    stations out there, so they were supposed to pick them up and when they got
    there, there was only three left. The other two had died and, of course, the
    rest run away and hid. But they grabbed my old great-grandmother, she was
    nearly 80, so there was one white passenger in this great big coach and the
    other three people had to walk from Diamantina Gates Station to Winton. So
    you could just imagine …

Because there was one white passenger …

00:25:08:00    One white person, yeah, that’s right. They couldn’t. So one
    of Dad’s uncles died before they got to Winton. He’s buried somewhere
    along the road. I’ve never been able to find out where and I can’t find any
    documented police records but Dad said he’s buried there somewhere, but
    you’d never ever find him in a million years. Ever. Unless bones were
    exposed or something, and then you wouldn’t know if it was him or not

Now Joslin, I’m going to ask you a question that you might find offensive,
    but I’m interested in this film to put next to each other different views of
    history. It’s been put to us in the last week or so that Aboriginal people
    finding burial grounds hasn’t got a basis in history because Aboriginal
    people would put bodies up in the trees and that then the bones would … that
    there isn’t a kind of a burial place in the way that white fellas understand it.
    How would you respond to that?

Aboriginal Traditions – Burial

    00:26:15:20    Yeah. Yeah, well that’d be right too, because they had their
    own customs with burial and different areas had different ways. In the
    Channel Country they were all buried in the sandhills and they were left
    there. Their bones … sometimes in some of the areas, now Dad was telling
    me when he was only a young boy, because he was born in 1905, even then
    they were still burying them traditionally, and he as a kid was never allowed,
    of course, at any of those special burials because they were very special
    ceremonies. He said they used to bury them in the sandhills and then they
    would get their bones out after a certain time and put them together and they
    were always reburied back in the sandhills. But they were in a compact. I
    have discovered about ten traditional graves like that and I’ve also
    discovered burials that have never had that second burial. So they’re still
    there today.    But there was a time when everything was traditionally,
    including burials.

    00:27:22:08    Today when I find a grave, I document them, I find their
    history, who they are, I give them a life, and then their spirit can return. It’s
    not just any bones, it’s somebody’s bones. To me they have a special
    meaning. Maybe not in the traditional sense from two or three hundred years
    ago but a different sense, but still just as spiritual, and just as meaningful. I
    wouldn’t go and take their bones and do like they did because I wouldn’t
    have the expertise or the rights to do it. Now each person in a family clan
    group has special rights and special procedures in burials. And the women
    did too. Each single person had a special thing to do. I can’t do those things
    because I don’t have that right. You have to be fully initiated to have that
    right to do that. So I’m doing, I guess, the second best thing. I’m looking
    after them. And I do other things that I can do now as a descendant of those
    people. There are special little things that I can do, which I do. It doesn’t
    solve it completely but it does pave the way that I’m still carrying on
    traditionally but in a more modern way. And the feelings are still there, the
    deep feelings are still there, because they’ll never go away. It’s like if you
    go to a funeral today, anyone’s funeral, sadness is there, the sympathy, the
    hurt. All those things. Even if it’s not your relative, you still feel that sorrow
    for anyone. It doesn’t matter who they are, even if you don’t know the
    people, but out there, in that country, when I see, when I find these places,
    and I’ve found a lot so far, I document them, I have my own way of doing
    that, and I have a special procedure that you have to do. And that’s what I do
    so, as I said, I can’t do what they did because I don’t have that right.

So Joslin, you were with your Dad mostly around Springvale Station …

Mmmm, mmm. And Diamantina, all that area. Winton … yes.

That’s something I don’t precisely understand. Isabel tried to explain it to
    me and Isabel talked about how she grew up on Glen Ormiston and that her
    parents both worked on Glen Ormiston but then her father would be taking
    contracts on other stations as well. How did that …

Well, when that happened …

… work, I guess, between Aboriginal people and the white station owners?
Well, just going back now, if I remember, there was times when Dad wasn’t
    there and I remember Mum used to go into Boulia because we used to stay at
    the camp there, because I just vaguely remember.

This is the One Mile?

Race Relations – Stages

    00:30:46:20    Yeah. No, no, not that one, that’s the government one. This
    is the Aboriginal camp, the other one. I remember the corroborees that used
    to be there when I was only a kid and lots and lots of Aboriginal people, so
    that’s probably how they did it. If Mum wasn’t working, well she … she
    used to just help Dad. She didn’t, like, he wasn’t away. Like the white
    people’s system in them times, they changed, like, from first settlement
    they’d shoot them or rape the women and kill the kids, or whatever, and then
    there was another phrase that come in, ‘Oh, no, we can’t kill these mob.
    We’ll keep the best woman for sex and we’ll keep the other ones to do all the
    work and all the stockmen’. See? ‘The old people, well we’ll just send them
    to the mission’ so that was the next phrase. And then the third phrase, they
    got rid of all the old people. By then they had to pay wages and they only
    kept the women for sex partners. They all had them, every one of them.
    And if there was any kids, my guess they were killed, because I can’t find
    too many half-caste kids, but most of them did die. From research material
    that I’ve found, it was a flu epidemic that the soldiers brought back from the


00:32:08:17    In 1918, I think, or there was another one came from 1910,
    1911. There was about two or three different flus that came from Europe and
    they were brought back by the soldiers. Not on purpose, of course.

It was 1919, I think, yes.

Yeah. Because that’s when my Dad’s mother died, in that one, and my
    Dad’s youngest brother, and they’re still buried out on Springvale.
Now Joslin, another question that comes out of that, that you might find
    offensive but I’m interested in your response to it. Again, it’s been put to us
    that Aboriginal people didn’t value half-caste kids any more than whitefellas
    did and that Aboriginal people would have left half-caste kids to die and that
    part of the Stolen Generation thing was white people saving Aboriginal
    babies, half-caste Aboriginal babies, that would otherwise have died.

00:33:08:04      Well my guess is, and it’s not 100% positive because I haven’t
    got no proof, only just history, oral history. They did kill some of the babies
    at the very beginning, but not many, because by that time they knew what
    was happening down south. Aboriginal people had a wonderful way of
    telecommunication and Australia was so vast but they knew what the whites
    were doing, how they were just moving in and just taking over and shooting
    Aboriginal people, take up the best lands and all that. They knew that so
    they were waiting for them, even on Diamantina Gates in 1864. They were
    waiting for them because they murdered him. Which I found his grave in the
    massacre site that followed afterwards. So that’s just one of the events but
    they were prepared anyway, and they were prepared to die too, to protect
    their country.

And going on beyond that kind of …

And the kids, yeah. Yes.

… savage period, I wondered, for instance, and I need to put this question to
    Isabel so I’m not asking you to tell me about Topsy but I just use this as an
    example. You know how Topsy, Isabel’s Mum, Topsy Hanson’s Dad was
    Scottish …

Yes, know all about her.

Yes, and her Mum died as Topsy was born and the story is that Topsy was
    left for dead.

That’s right.
And I must say I asked Isabel, ‘Wouldn’t the Aboriginal women around
      Topsy have looked after the baby?’.

1 – SIDE B

00:34:53:04     I don’t think so. No. Personally, at that time, there was a lot
      of hate for them because they knew and fear, fear was a lot of it, and they’d
      heard all about what they were doing in Victoria, Adelaide and New South
      Wales, how they were taking the kids away and just raping even kids. Even
      in Burketown they had a special place up there where they used to just rape
      the young kids.

So you’re saying there was fear of half-caste …?

00:35:24:20     Yeah. Yeah. Because they knew they were special, they were
      treated better than the black ones. See Victoria bred them. That was the
      breeding farm. Victoria was the very first, actually, that they bred them, and
      it was for a purpose. To bring the women out. And so they could have a
      white race, pure white race, with no convicts. Victoria was the only state in
      this country that did it. It was like farming. They bred them for reasons.

You’re saying that traditional Aboriginal people would have seen whitefellas
      as creating half-caste babies to breed the Aboriginal out …?

00:36:09:20     Yeah, they knew everything. They would have got all that
      wind from all down south and they also got the last version. ‘Please don’t
      kill any more babies because we’re too many of us going too fast’ and by
      that time, by the sixties, by the 18 … that’s just my brother.


It’s just two friends, just doing a little bit of thing.

Hello, I’m Trish.

Trish and Erica, and that’s Stan.

      Race Relations
    00:36:35:18    So by the 1860s, they’d known all what was happening and
    what to look for the future then, so they started to protect the kids then, the
    best that they could, used to hide them. And even Mum will probably tell
    you too, when she was little her Mum used to cover her with charcoal so
    they’d make out she was real black, see, because she was half-caste too. Her
    father was a whitefella. And they did it to a few others, too, around. And
    this is in the early 1900s, they were still hiding half-caste kids. But by then
    they’d treasured them, too, at that time then. Say from about 19 … maybe
    from the 1900s onwards, or even before that, they started to really look after
    them because they knew their race was dying and they had to have somebody

So you’re saying that traditionally Aboriginal people may have killed half-
    caste babies to keep their own culture together?


But as things became more and more dislocated …

00:37:37:16    That’s right. They knew they had to hang on because they
    probably foresaw the future. They were very spiritual-minded people. I
    mean, they lived in the past, thousands and millions of years back, it’s only
    natural or them to think millions ahead, in front, and that’s what they did. So
    that was one way of preserving their culture. They knew, because once an
    Aboriginal person is born, it’s what comes in here and it’ll never go away.
    And it doesn’t matter how educated you are, either, or how far any
    generations to come will go, you’re Aboriginal in here. And you’ve only got
    to talk to some of those people in Victoria. Since I’ve been going down to
    university down there, I was surprised. I thought ‘Oh, my God, what are all
    these white people doing here? At this Koori institution?’ They were all
    black. And then I delved into a bit of the back history, then, of Victorian
    Aboriginals, and that’s what I found. And it’s true. You’ve only got to go
    down there to see that. You talk to people and they’re Aboriginal people but
    they’re whiter than most Europeans. Culturally, they’re more educated, they
    live in beautiful homes and married white blokes, or maybe white, I don’t
    know. They’re probably Aboriginals too. But they just live normal lives but
    it was the breeding system. There weren’t too many people escaped that.

So Joslin, you then, both your parents were part Aboriginal?


Did you, in any way, grow up feeling something less because you were not
    fully Aboriginal?

No. No, I didn’t, actually.

I shouldn’t say ‘fully Aboriginal’. You know what I mean.

    00:39:37:00    Yeah, I know what you mean, yeah. No, I didn’t because I
    remember a lot of the kids around Boulia when I was little, and even in
    Hughenden after when we were over there, Dad was carting wood for the
    powerhouse, there was a lot of little black kids there too, so we got on … I
    always got on well with them. But most of my young life was fight. I used
    to fight my way through school, through everything, and got expelled quite
    often for punching them up, name-calling and that sort of stuff.

So that was racism?

00:40:10:12    Yeah, racism. Yeah, right through, and then of course we
    come up, Stanley and Janet, Johnny and I, we would have come up through
    that time when there was, it was just time to fight. You had to beat racism.
    That was the main thing and by then we were free, see. We were born free.
    That’s what it was.     And we couldn’t understand why we weren’t free
    because even in Winton, I remember, we all lived in camps. We never lived
    in a town. We used to live in a camp called Boomerang Alley which was
    just outside of town and we were there for quite a while and we had to go to
    school, and that was terrible, you know. Boy, oh boy, did I fight. And when
    I look at some of the old people there now, you know, blokes I bashed up.
    We smile now. Yeah, God I used to give them hell. 00:41:04:10