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Braided Channels of History Recording & Transcript - 12 - 01 of 03 (Raw)

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Interviewer Respondent
IN 00:00:00 OUT 00:12:19
Trish FitzSimons
Elizabeth 'Liz' Lawler
Griffith Film School
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12 - 01 of 03
Recorded 4 June 2000 Updated 16/12/09. TC is from tape 12_BC_DV. Topics in Bold So this is DAT Tape 6, camera tape 12, 4 June 2000. Trish FitzSimons recording, Erica Addis on camera, interviewing Liz Debney out at Glen Ormiston Station. And this is the third camera tape and the second DAT of this series.
Braided Channels of History Recording & Transcript - 12 - 01 of 03
History Environment
PTA refers to Part A of Tape 12
Recorded creative work created by permission of the copyright holder. Copyright in individual works within this collection belongs to their authors or publishers.
Liz Debney
End of interview with Liz Debney.Tape 3 of 3. Ends with footage of Liz's hands.
part of:
Braided Channels of History Recording & Transcript - 12 - 01 of 03
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12_BC_DV_PTA_DEBNEY-raw.txt — 9 KB

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                                     WITH LIZ DEBNEY
                                     Recorded 4 June 2000
                                        Updated 16/12/09.
                                   TC is from tape 12_BC_DV.
                                          Topics in Bold

                             I = Interviewer            R = Respondent

So this is DAT Tape 6, camera tape 12, 4 June 2000. Trish FitzSimons recording, Erica Addis
        on camera, interviewing Liz Debney out at Glen Ormiston Station. And this is the
        third camera tape and the second DAT of this series.

TC from Tape 12_BC_DV

I       Okay. We were talking a little bit, I want to get on to floods and droughts and flooding
        plains. But had we finished the Xavier Herbert stuff?

R       We were doing that off camera.

I       You were saying that the Sally Dingo book you felt had helped you. What’s that? Tell me
        a little bit about that book and then we’ll go onto droughts and flooding rains.

R       00:01:16:00    Sally Dingo wrote the story of her husband, Ernie Dingo, and his family’s
        early life in Western Australia and it helped me understand a lot of things about the early,
        the social stages that the Aboriginal people went through, going from the … and I’ve
        always known about the effect of the removing of the Act. I can remember in 1966 when
        the Referendum was held and … 1965 it must have been.

I       ’67 was the Act.

R       00:01:55:00    ‘67 was the … well I can remember when I was in primary school in Grade
        7, which is ’65, it was being discussed, and being absolutely horrified that there were
        people that weren’t getting equal pay. You know, my little 11-year-old sense of injustice
        was … and, you know, I can see morally that all people are equal and that things like the
        Act were very, very wrong but what you were saying before about it totally changed the
        way, you know the people were no longer welcome on the stations, and I can see the effect
        that it had. I don’t know what the answer is, which was right and which was wrong. I
        certainly don’t think they should have stayed being paid not equally and all that sort of
        thing but it made a huge difference, and so I just felt Sally Dingo’s book is an excellent
        way of learning about the early … what happened to the Aborigines on the stations there
        and the fact that, for some, a particular group of them who had been used to being kept and
Liz Debney                                                                                           2

         looked after and housed by the properties, but they didn’t have the social security to fall
         back on, it just didn’t exist for them, and they had it very tough. And that comes out in
         that book, yep.                                    00:03:24:10

I        So talking of floods, dust storms and droughts, tell me … perhaps we’ll start with when
         you arrived here 13 years ago, what were the seasons like, and just tell me how you’ve
         experienced that kind of cycle, because the essence of the Channel Country is shifting,
         isn’t it?

R        Women/Land/Droughts/Pastoral Companies

         00:03:49:04    Mmmm. Okay, when we came here it was in September. It was at the tail
         end of a very dry period but there had been winter rain, so when we came here everything
         was nice and green. For the first, and yeah we’ve lived through the cycles that we’ve just
         come out of a very dry couple of years where our stock numbers have gone down. The
         droughts don’t affect me in the way that they would somebody who is on a privately-
         owned place where they’re seeing their income disappear. We still get paid, you know
         Mal still gets paid his salary whether it’s floods or droughts or whatever, so we’re not
         affected in that way but it’s certainly seeing the country get drier and drier, it’s very
         depressing and you feel for the country itself, because you know how beautiful it can look
         and it looks so sad when it’s all dry and it makes life more difficult because decisions have
         to be made about shifting cattle and that sort of thing. But as far as floods go, we’re on the
         western side of the Georgina River.

         Until about six years ago, the bridge that you came across when you were driving in didn’t
         exist and that crossing was often uncrossable for up to several months at a time, so we just
         had no access, and we have a similar crossing to the north of us at Roxborough if you want
         to go out that way. So back in those days, to not be able to drive to Boulia or Mt Isa for six
         weeks or a couple of months was quite common and even today, in these days with the
         bridge, I think we went a couple of weeks, it might have been a month, that we couldn’t …
         that the water was over the bridge so we could not go anywhere by road. And I’m always
         amused when you hear on the radio when there’s been flooding rains sort of in the more
         settled areas and all of a sudden there’s food drops happening because people haven’t been
         able to go anywhere for a week, but we’re used to it and we work around it. It’s just …
Liz Debney                                                                                          3

         and we’re very fortunate here because we have an aeroplane so we can get people and
         things in and out.

         00:06:40:16    Dust storms. Haven’t seen a good dust storm for a long time and I hope I
         never see another one. When we first came here, the second year that we were here was
         still not a terribly good year and we had some dust storms. In our earlier days, when I first
         went to Coorabulka, in my housemaiding days, there were some shocking dust storms. I
         remember one time we had the bosses up from Brisbane and the manager’s wife, being a
         very efficient lady, had made sure that I had the table all set for tea at about 2 o’clock in
         the afternoon and this dust storm came. So we had to, you know, totally clean the lounge
         room, wash everything, and yeah. So it’s just part of the cycle of … you certainly live
         with the elements.

I        You were saying you didn’t get so distressed by drought because at least the income is
         continuing. Can Mal face it with that equanimity or is the impact on you that you’re
         helping him to deal with his stress?

R        00:07:43:14    Yeah. Yes, he’s certainly got a lot more stress from the management point
         of view. It’s definitely very stressful, making the decision. It’s, even though we don’t own
         the cattle, the decision to have to actually remove several thousand of the cattle you’re
         responsible for and shift them somewhere else for someone else to look after, is a very
         difficult decision for a manager to make.         00:08:11:06

I        I guess at least in a big company, there can be

R        That’s right, yep. Within the company, yeah.

I        Last question, I think. Tell me who are the historical figures from this area in general and
         this property in particular? Like, when you came here, who were the people you would
         hear about? You mentioned Topsy …

R        Mmmm, Topsy and Snapshot. Ummm, the manager who was here before us, ummm, was
         here for quite a long time, ummm. Oh, isn’t that terrible. His name’s gone right out of my

I        Don’t worry.
Liz Debney                                                                                          4

R        History-Glen Ormiston

         00:08:53:15    Uhhh. I know it as well as I know my own. Ummm, yeah the names of all
         of the past managers … people talk about ‘Oh that was done in so-and-so’s time’ – and
         Jimmy Dwyer was the manager here before us – and particularly the men, you’ll hear them
         say ‘Oh, that yard was built in Dwyer’s time’ or ‘That yard was built in Martin Heywood’s
         time’ or ‘So-and-so put that bore down’. They tend to look over the management history
         of the place in terms of who the manager was at the time, which is interesting, plus the fact
         that NAPCO has only owned this property since the late sixties. Before that it was owned
         by a different company, one that … the shareholders were very similar but the actual
         companies were different.                          00:09:47:07

I        Am I right? I think in the sixties it was owned, I mean I know the Frasers, Malcolm
         Fraser’s family are involved in the NAPCO Collins thing, but was it the Frasers?

R        It was owned by …

I        Does Malcolm Fraser enter much into the folk lore?

R        00:10:04:06    Not him, in particular, but the Frasers themselves, the Fraser family. It was
         owned by Collins White and the Frasers are descendants of the Collins family from round
         Beaudesert but, yeah, it’s all the same family I gather but his connection is fairly tenuous.

I        And Malcolm Fraser’s aunt, as I had heard some of the story of Glen Ormiston from Isabel
         Tarrago, Malcolm Fraser’s aunt had owned this property in the period that her parents
         worked here.

R        Well her family would have owned it. That would have been in the Collins White time,
         yep.           00:10:51:06