Stories: Widdy Walsh

Early life

I was born in Coonamble and my mothers name was Beatrice Welsh. Her father was Jimmy Welsh and they had all moved into Coonamble from Pilliga. We lived in Broad Street when I was about 8-10.

I have sisters Donna, Debra, Kim (Tom), Jane on my mothers side and Barry who has passed away, Kevin, Robert, twins Jane and Wayne. There were lots of us and Les, Darl, Son and Frank.

They all drifted away after Mum passed away but they are slowly coming back.

Our house was a tent first the, sort of an old tin hut. We had dirt floors and my Mum used to sweep it so clean it wasn’t like dirt – it was hard and clean.

We were taken away by the protection board to educate us. The seven of us all left together and we were excited because we were going on a train ride to Sydney. The twins were about six months old. Barry and I went together on another train. They told is we’d never see our brothers and sisters again and I remember that clearly and that rolls over in my mind many times. They all went to different white families in New South Wales and in Sydney. Barry and I went to Kinchilla Boys Home and we stayed there for four or rive years until we were adopted by family back here in Coonamble. it was Uncle Billy and Mum’s sister Aunty Tam

It has caused me a lot of problems wondering why we were taken away.

Boys Home – Kempsey

About 100 Aboriginal kids from all over New South Wales were sent to the ‘Boys Home’ near Kempsey. We never saw any white kids. It was like a concentration camp – you just got up, did your chores and went to bed. It was great to have a brother with me and he did a lot of fighting for me. We had one teacher who taught everyone reading and maths. After school we’d do our dairy chores. We made our own butter and grew all our own vegetables and all we had to buy was meat.

In 1962 we were allowed to go to West Kempsey High School. It was a terrific feeling to be out amongst people again. We loved to gat away for the Home and go to school.

They forced us to lean to read and write and I only appreciate that now. There was a lot of abuse and molesting in the home too. Some of the boys sho were at the home have been to gaol – we’d meet up again in there. Some have drunk themselves to death. Good things and bad things came out of that home.

Back in Coonamble

I came back to Coonamble when I was about 15 and stated at the High School. My uncle and Aunt shifted about so much and they were out of town so learning by correspondence was too difficult. I remember we lived at Wilga Down. They were at Kircauldie on the Quambone Road before that. We enjoyed it out on the property. We weren’t allowed to see Mum until we were 18. Later we went over to Wee Waa cotton chipping and eventually we met up with mum.

I learnt things form Billy Leonard and I appreciate that. He taught us how to track porcupines, goannas, witchetty grubs and he showed us how to clean them and cook them. I would like to be able to set up something so I can teach the Aboriginal children of this town these things.

Later Life

I got married and had four kids but my kids have got in them what I had in me – blind rage. We give our kids too much and we don’t teach our kids how to have rejection. I’ve got another family now and I’m going to teach them.

Jealousy has to be controlled and its insecurity in a sense that causes lots of fights. I have another four kids now with Rita, and I know that if I don’t make her happy she can leave anytime and I don’t want that. I think domestic violence is cause by insecurity.

The trouble with some people today is that they get their social security money, and they have a big spend up – sometimes on the poker machines, or the card games. If they start losing, they go again and then it’s all gone. They lend out money because their friends don’t have any. So’ for the rest of the week they hang around the street because there is no reason to go home – there is nothing there.

I would like to see everyone’s culture and background kept going. It is hard for me because I was a blonde headed kid in the Aboriginal Boys. I had to find out my background. I think all the different nationalities coming to Australia should keep their traditions and pass them on to their children. They don’t have to live like that all the time but it’s important that they know it.

I hated the white people when I was young because of what they did to me. My father was white. I love him though.

There are still people prejudiced against us. There is a group of Aboriginal people who are becoming educated. However there is a group of Aboriginal people who are not getting the benefits of this. In 1974 when the ‘dole’ came in. the kids left school, and waited for their cheque each fortnight. That was the pint of working? You could lie around all day and still get paid. They need incentive. The CDEP is great because it’s a job and people get pride for working and seeing a job done.

< Back to Stories
Jean Hamilton >