I was born at the Wee Waa
hospital in 1932 and I lived at the Pilliga Mission until I was 12 years
old. My father was the Overseer so we had quite a good house to live
in. our house was next door to the Manager’s house and we were
the other side of the Mission. We has a few privileges, like milking
the cow, and we’d be given a ‘killer’ ( a lamb to
kill for meat).
I had seven sisters and three
brothers and I am the fourth youngest in the family.
Life on the Mission
We had good times and bad
times. We all had our chores to do and we used to set rabbit traps up
the river. A mob of us used to go and we enjoyed that. We would set
the traps at night and before school the next morning we’d run
the traps, ring the rabbit’s necks and skin the rabbits. We would
put the skins on a bow , the bent wire, and take tem to Pilliga. We’d
sell our skins in towns too. We would get about three shillings and
we would but lollies. That was our treat because we never used to get
anything like that.
We’d do the rabbiting
and the older boys and men would go hunting and they’d bring home
goannas, emus and kangaroos. I remember old Harry Doolan and young Peter
Doolan, a lot of people knew him in later years, they used to dig a
great big hole and make a big fir in it. They’d let the coals
burn down and nix the ashes with the coals and some leaves, then out
the emu in the hole. The feathers would burn off and then the emu cooks.
Then we would all have a great feast – kangaroo, goanna and porcupine
were our treats. We also used to go looking for crayfish and emu eggs.
On the mission there
was a building called the ‘ration station’. This is where
the people on the mission got their food. They were given flour, sugar
and of course you couldn’t get tea or butter without coupons.
We cooked dampers, Johnny cakes and fried scones.
We had a mission school on
the mission station. There were about 15 or 16 children at the school
and we had a white teacher. She was a Constable. She was very nice and
she married a policeman at Pilliga, Harry Foster.
When I was 12 we moved to
Coonamble. we had a very old house in town. We all went to school in
Coonamble and I left when I was 15.
Out to Work
A couple of my sisters were
apprenticed out to work. You had to do and work on stations from 18-21,
cooking and cleaning for the station owners. Some women worked in town
washing and ironing and housework.
I got married when I was
16 and we lived in Tin Town, on an island. We had to cart water from
the river and do the washing in the river. We lived in shacks. Later
the Shire put the tap on at Tin Town which was marvellous. We had water
in the Camp piped up from the river.
The men worked on properties
around the Coonamble District and so we had more money to but food.
Those who did not have work went hunting for rabbits and wild pig.
I went out to work at Nancy
Croxon’s along with my sister and brother. We really liked it
out these but we did get lonely. We’d come to town on Friday then
we’d have to go back after the weekend.
We worked in the 60’s
out at Colwell’s and different places in the 1970 we got a permanent
job at Woodside with Russel Smith. It was lovely out there. We all had
to work for our money in those days but I guess we were lucky because
we could get jobs.