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Braided Channels of History Recording & Transcript - 34 - 02 of 02 (Text)

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Interviewer Respondent
IN 00:00:00 OUT 00:30:25
Trish FitzSimons
Griffith Film School
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34 - 02 of 02
17 June 2000
Updated 15/01/10. Timecode refers to tapes 34_BC_SP Topics in Bold
Braided Channels of History Recording & Transcript - 34 - 02 of 02
Environment Childbirth
PTB Refers to Part B of Tape 34.
Copyright in individual works within this collection belongs to their authors or publishers. Recorded creative work created by permission of the copyright holder.
Linda Crombie
Interview with Linda Crombie. Part 1 of 2. Some signs of water damaged but footage generally ok.
part of:
Braided Channels of History Recording & Transcript - 34 - 02 of 02
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34_BC_SP_PTB_CROMBIE-plain.txt — 14 KB

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A No transcript first part (c.9mins) Need to refer from 10:02 – 10:12

        10:12:07:10    In that time when you were in the desert, tell me what you
        remember of your life then.

When we stayed out in the desert and the corner, spring then, we called it
        [mickeree?]. That’s where we’d get our water. We don’t                  we’d
        get it with a coolamon.

And how would your parents know where the water was, do you know?

Traditional Aboriginal

        10:12:26:10    There’s a well, Aborigine well. And there we’d get our water,
        they’d carry it out with the coolamon. That coolamon in that book there.
        Oh, the wrong book. And then they’d take it out and give you a drink.
        They’d go round giving a drink like that, all the ones, and they’d all take a
        mouth full, you know. They’d make the little [poonga poonga?] then, we
        calls it. [Poonga poonga?] that we all get in there then, Mum and Dad and
        two, one brother and three girls.

And what is [poonga poonga?]?

[Poonga poonga?] is like a little, like a tent.

And what about food, Linda, what food do you remember eating when you
        were in the desert? You said you were hungry but what were the things that
        you’d eat?

10:13:19:00    Oh, Dad would get a rabbit and kangaroo and all that, and
        goanna. Killed ‘em and come back with it, but you’d cook it out there and
        take it back cooked. We were satisfied when we eat the meat.
But there wasn’t enough meat to stop you being hungry?

No, there wasn’t. We had to hunt away then.

And how about, were there seeds and things? Were there plants that you’d

Traditional Aboriginal: Bush Tucker

    10:14:01:20      No, they’d get that, oh I don’t know what you call ‘em, wild
    onions, Yasco (?) we calls it. We’d get it and cook it and peel it like that and
    it’d come out little wild onions. They’re good there. You’d get … we’d see,
    oh like, I don’t know what you call ‘em, [montara?] and the wild fruit on it -
    we’d get that too. And we eat and they’d get a lot of fruit of that and eatin’
    it. When we got travellin’ back to Mount Gason then, we was pickin’ all the
    fruits there, eatin’ it.

And do you remember arriving in Birdsville at all? Can you remember
    coming in for the first time?

Yeah, from Pandie then. Because the white people was in Pandie then, when
    Mum was workin’ there.

So what do you remember when you first came to Birdsville?

Frightened. Racin’ around and frightened from the white fella. Terrible

Were your parents afraid of white people too?

No, no, only my brother and two sisters, three sisters – four of us, like.

And what were you afraid of, do you think?

Well, they might … we’d think, you know, like that. We’d think ‘They might
    kill us these white fellas’. Oh, frightened.

So what did your parents tell you about white people, Linda?
Race Relations: Goverment Rations

    10:15:22:00     Well, Mum said, ‘Don’t be afraid and they’ll give us Maya,
    Maya, sugar. See                     flour. Sugar, tea, everything, they give
    us. Ohhh. We’d say oh and in a little while run away then. Pull our clothes
    off and chuck it away, run around naked. And stayin’ at Pandie, so Dad got
    a … government sent a tent out then, for us, like for a big family. Dad put
    that up and we all sleep in the tent. We was right then. Blanket and
    everything they sent out. Some clothes. Well they sent out first, that,
    wearing big shirts, draggin’ ‘em along on the ground. Needle and cotton,
    everything what Mum can sew material. That’s where Mum learned to sew
    clothes, dresses.

Who taught your mother to sew?

I don’t know, she must have picked it up herself. Could have been the
    what’s-her-name, Billy Dawson’s missus.

And when you got to Pandie Pandie, were there other Aboriginal families
    living there?

10:16:54:10     Yeah. Everybody had to get the ration then. Wait for the …
    where’s that little girl now? She’s gone. And Mum and Dad was working,
    both of them.

And were you expected to work as a child on Pandie Pandie?

No, Mum wouldn’t let us. Half spoilt us. She reckoned, ‘Don’t work, I’ll do
    the workin’. We can all …’ like she was goin’ to get the clothes and
    everything for us and she sews clothes too, you know, and make a dress and
    everything. Pants for little kids.

Would she make the clothes with a needle?

Yeah, government sent a needle and cotton and everything out for us.

Do you think your mother was happy for you kids to wear clothes?
Traditional Aboriginal: Clothes

    10:18:00:00    Yeah, she was happy. She was like wild one, I suppose we
    were runnin’ around the naked. But Dad had a rabbit skin, made a skirt out
    of it. You know, not sewn, that’s what they call a stick poonkaru(?). Open it
    up and open it up and put the skin through then. Rabbit skin. The skin was
    that long and sewed that up with a poonkaru, a stick, poonkaru stick.

And who would wear that skirt?

Me and my sister, Clara and Dora and … my two sisters.

So how many kids were there in your parents’ family?

Well, there was three of us and one brother, Conbilly, Tom and Aylen.

And would your brother, did he work on the property?

Yeah, when he’d get big and he left Mum and Dad, all of us, and gone to the
    property then, down at the Chilton Hills, worked down there then.

And how about, Linda, where did you go to school?

    Never. Pandi - Padnus mean nothing. All my kids went to school.

So why didn’t you go to school?

10:19:27:00    Didn’t want to. I still take off when I see white fellas. Still in
    them, you know, in me. I don’t go wika then all white kids went to school

And when you were a kid, Linda, were your parents teaching you traditional


So tell us about some of those lessons that you had as a child.
Well Mum and Dad tell us about all them [punta?] (language) that means,
        you what’s that mean, fishin’.(language) Jean, Oh, not again, look over there,
        they’re goin’ to drop that kid directly.

So what did your parents teach you about fishing?

Traditional Aboriginal: Bush Tucker

        10:20:35:10    Catch a fish. Go along the river and catch a yabbie, get the
        yabbie and put it in the hook, and my old grandfather, he had a long hair
        right down, and they’d get that hair and do that to them and get the …
        government sent the hook out, you know, fishin’ line and all. That put little
        hook in the long hair then and then we went down fishin’. He caught a lot of
        fish. We run (language) what you got? (language) that’s mean grandfather.
        ‘Here take this back to Mum and Dad, he’ll cook it for you’, so all right.

So when you were a little child, was the word ‘government’, was that a word
        that you would hear? When you’d get the blankets or whatever, would you
        be hearing ‘the government sent us this’?

Mmmm. (Language – substantial)

And what would you think of the government? What was your feeling about
        the government?

Race Relations

        10:21:50:10    Well, since we got them clothes we reckon ‘Oh, gee, they’re a
        nice lot of people, givin’ us the clothes’.

Other   Mother, you’re doin’ well there.

See that flower you sent for me? Yeah, then, we reckon, ‘Oh, gee them
        white fella must be good to us, sendin’ it’. Oh, yeah, we’re jumpin’ around
        with the new dresses and all, and pants, and all that. Glad for it.

For how long did you stay on Pandie Pandi, do you know?
10:22:42:10    We stayed there all the time then. Dad had to go to Durrie and
    work with my … that’s where I pick up my man there at Pandie Pandi. That
    old man there, me __       him(?) so I pick him up there.

So how did you meet him?

Oh, I don’t know, cant’s say.

Was he working on Pandie Pandie too?

    10:23:10:10    No. He was working on Nappanuma, come in every time,
    comin’ to see his parents, Mum and Dad, and they was there. Anyway, he
    was comin’ in all the time there, every day, you know. Not every day, like,
    every week. Stayin’ there. I said to my sister, ‘I’m goin’ to get that man’.
    ‘Dad’ll rouse on you,’ they said. ‘No,’ you know,

Was he the first man you’d really wanted?

Yeah, that’s the first one. So when he died, I never worried about an old
    man then.

And so how old were you, do you reckon, when you and your husband got


And had you started to work by then on the station?

Oh, I had                       then, I started cooking for the station.

And where was that you started cooking?

What’s-a-name? [Hawthorn?] Down. All my family was there then.

And so what was involved in cooking for the station? What would a day be

What’s that?
What was involved in cooking for the station? You know, what was the

Aboriginal Workers

    Oh, cooking and sometime go out ridin’, chasin’ cattle. Do everything. But
    we used to chase cattle, you know, ridin’ with my husband, and that.

Were you paid cash wages or were you paid in food and clothes? When you
    started working …

10:25:08:10    Yeah, you’d get … they’d cut your wages then, they’d give
    you food and clothes. They’d pay you something like a hundred dollars,
    something like that, or it might be two hundred, like that.

Two hundred dollars. How long would you have to work before you’d get
    two hundred dollars?

About a fortnight I think. I’m not too sure. Took us … boss was there but
    we don’t ask him how long the wages. Oh my eye aches.

That’s no good. Do you need to stop Linda?

Mmmm. We started workin’ at the Hawthorne Downs then chasin’ cattle
    and all that. I used to ride a horse.

Who taught you to ride a horse?

10:26:01:08    My Dad and Mum. They both ride. Leave us, when we were
    small when they leave us with the grandmother, they go away chasin’ cattle
    and all that.       Go out cookin’ and camp, settle down with a
    at last I went like that and went, ‘Oh, well, I’m goin’ back now, goin’ back to
    Mum and Dad’. ‘Yeah, I’ll take you back and leave you in here,’ he said.
    I’ll go there then, every day, like every fortnight, yeah, took me back and left
    me at Pandie Pandi.

So when your baby was born, where was your first baby born?
In the hospital here. There’s that man, there, sittin’ up with the bung eye, he
    my first son.

And do you know what year that was, that he was born?

No, but a lot of paper been there in the hospital but it got burnt. They might
    get the paper in there, you might make enquiry.

So what was it like coming in to Birdsville Hospital to have your baby?
    Could you tell me that story?

    10:27:18:10     All right. Ridin’ a horse, come in. When we come in, there’s
    a [mickeree?] in there, a well. Aboriginal well, they calls it [mickeree?].
    That’s the only word. No water was here, nothing. Dry. And that water was
    sort of feedin’ the town too. Anyway, we … get caught up in the back too,

Go on. So you came in. Tell me …

I stayed in there then, at the hospital then.

Were you happy to come to hospital to have your baby?

    Yeah. And my husband’s father was workin’. He said, ‘Linda, show your
    hand’. I said, ‘What for?’ ‘I can tell if you’ve got a boy or girl’ and he said,
    ‘You’ve got a boy’. I said, ‘Go on’. I said, ‘No, don’t tell lies, Frank’. He
    said, ‘No, fair dinkum’. He said, ‘Put your money there, you and your
    husband’s money, and I’ll put mine there’. So his old rubbish won it.

And were you happy to be having a boy?

10:28:37:10     Yeah.    Then I went away workin’ then.         Went back to
    Mortons again then, workin’. We left that country out there, too far to come
    into the hospital, you see. And go to the Mortons and work.

So what was the name of the Mortons property?
Roseberth, You come past Roseberth when you go. You                    the past
    there and when you go out this way, this is the road goin’ to the big hill.
    That’s [Rose ------?].

And so how old was your baby when you started working for the Mortons?

10:29:14:08    He done can sit up. He wouldn’t let me to go before. He said,
    ‘No, you stop and look after baby’. And them day, you don’t feed the kid
    with the milk, you feed it at the breast. Oh, this here. That’s them two girls.

    No, no, you’ll smash the glasses.

So what was the work, Linda, that you took on then, when your baby was

Race Relations/Work: Domestic

    Oh, cleanin’ the house out for old Mrs Morton.

Who taught you how to clean the house?

10:30:21:20    She did. Old Mrs Morton herself. And we worked there and
    we’d get tucker there again.

And where did you live on the Morton property?

Down the river. There’s not much house them days. We made our own little
    [poonga poonga?].

So you knew how to do that from having grown up in the desert?

Yeah. Yeah.

And did your husband live traditional way as well?

10:30:37:00    Yeah. We both stayed there and then my sister was workin’
    there, we all, me and her work’s done, well we took Mum back then. Mum
    lookin’ after the babies then. She come up and we only workin’ from the
    mornin’ to dinner, knock off then. But old Mrs Morton said, ‘Oh, we won’t
    keep you too long, them babies will cry’. ‘Yeah? Oh that’s good then.’

So your babies would stay with your mother in the [poonga poonga?]?


And so did you keep breast feeding after you started working?

Mmmm. All my babies are fed in breastfeedin’.

And so what did you think of working in that house on the station, Linda?

All right. It’s good. And workin’ round, grandmother was and all there.

How would you describe your relationship with the Morton family then?

Oh, it was all right. Gettin’ on good with ‘em.

Would there ever be trouble between white and black on the station?

No. No.

Reading history books, there’s a lot of talk of Aboriginal women being
    treated badly on the stations. Like stud gins, women being kept for sex and
    that sort of thing. Did you ever experience that or hear about that happening
    to other women?

No. No.

Would you go into the house except when you were working there or would
    you mostly stay down with your camp?

10:32:58:10    No, we stayed down at the camp and they’d just give us a big
    tarpaulin for the night it was right. Stayed down there.

Would there be time when you’d be leaving camp for ceremonies? For
10:33:17:08   No, nothing them days. Then, they all finished. They all went
    back to Alice Springs, the ceremony peoples.         Nothing along here.