Stolen Generations

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Personal Statement

To let people know what it was like in the early days, like when we were kids growing up. We had a good healthy life.


Buddy Morrison

Duration: 14:28

My name is Buddy Morrison.  Errol, but they use Buddy all the time.  In a couple of more months I’ll be 70.  I’m from down the south west Noongar man.

My Mother’s Wadjuri from Carnarvon and my Father’s from Noongar tribe down Katanning.

[The Story of Buddy’s Mother]
Mum was taken to Mogumber from Mount Phillip station in Carnarvon. In 1902 she was born there and she was taken away and half her sisters got stopped there, they were all taken away, all the half-cast people you know.  Trying to eradicate them.   That was Mr Neville’s idea.  “Mr Neville the Devil” we used to call him, that was his nickname. 

I’d go down to the Stolen Generation there and there’s always somebody coming in, wanting to look for their people, you know?  They’ve got a big mob of records there.  Even I’m still looking for mine.  I go through them every now and again to find out where they are but I still haven’t found Mum’s two older sisters yet.  They might be gone.  But they must have somebody behind.  But I still keep on looking.

[Life Before Buddy was Taken]
I grew up around (2:06), Wadnelling, Wade, Narad, down to Albany, all along the south west railway line there, right to the end of the railway line, a little place called (2:20) and went behind that down to Jeramunga, a lovely country.  It was beautiful growing up down there.  I went to school down there with a class of about six and the teacher was a good bloke there mate, I’ve never seen people like him do cartwheels.  He’d have us playing with toys all day, we’d do about half an hour of sums or bit of written English. The rest was all play.

I come from a family of 23.  My father married twice. His first wife passed away but now they’re all gone.  There’s about six of us left, two sisters, four brothers are what’s left. Grandparents and Great Grandparents and it was all good, very good.

[Being Taken]
You tell me the story, I’ve always wondered why.  Why was I the only one picked out of it.  Maybe I was the worst one.  I don’t know.  But I can’t see anything bad that I’ve done.  So they probably just had to pick somebody out of a family them days but I can’t work out why I was.  I was ten when I was taken away.  I started getting in a bit of trouble and everything else you know, growing up.  So, welfare come around and said, “Right, Buddy, you’re messing your life up here”.  He talked to the parents and they didn’t want me to go, I didn’t want to go, I was happy there, learning from my mother and father and growing up with the other brothers and sisters.  That was the best life I’ve ever had, didn’t want … and they said, “Oh well, we’re taking you whether you like it or not.”  And that was it, they were law.  There was no bucking it.

So I ended up there going on a bus down to Bunbury.  They picked me up there and we went out to Roelands Mission.  Set in the side of a hill by the Collie River, hills all around us, seven hills and they called Roelands the Seven Hills.  Well I didn’t know where I was, strange country, Bunbury way. 
All you can do is look at the big trees and the bitumen road in front of the bus wherever it’s taking you, you stop at little towns here and there and then we’re there at Bunbury.  I say, “Oh well, this is my home for the next whatever.”

[Life at Roelands Mission]
I was scared going to a new place.  White people there, they’d grab hold of you and pick you up because a lot of people there, they were runners some of them, as soon as they would jump off a bus they were gone.  They’d grabbed hold of you properly and they held on to you until you were in the car, then you were right. 

But that was good, growing up there.  Good and bad.  You had your ups and downs, the same as everywhere else when you’re growing up.  But I missed my old life but you can’t help that because you’re out at this mission and you abide by their rules and whatever.  You didn’t, you got corrected.  Belted with a strap that had been hanging up there for about six months in the summer, they used that in the winter, to sting you up a bit.  Summer time they would belt you with a cane.  I didn’t know which was worse.  But you learn them things and it educates you in the years to come, that’s what I thought, you don’t do things twice.

In the mission they had a line in the middle of the road, girls’ one side, boys’ one side.  If the football went over the girls’ side you couldn’t run over and get it, you had to go and ask whoever was looking after you or … you couldn’t just walk over and get it, you got a hiding for it cause you’re over the boundary.  You’re not allowed to talk to the girls even though some were my own nieces that were there.  But it was good.  It was cruel in a way.  You wore no boots in the winter time and grass used to be bad, stiff, cold, they’d give you clothes to wear, give you a nice clean bit of rag that they called a handkerchief, you’d put it in your top pocket because all the others were sewn up.  They just didn’t want you to have your hands in your pockets.  Crazy.  I said, “Oh well”, one day I said, “I’ll get out and all my pockets will be open.”  And they’re still open today, nothing in them but it’s open.

We’d all get up at the same time, half past five because you had to finish all these chores before you go to school.  It’s still dark because everything was run on wood stoves.  The boys used to cut the wood for all the houses around the mission and all the girls, if the girls didn’t like you they’d burn much wood for nothing.  And when you’re ten, when you’re 12 I started cutting wood then for the other boys, they’d have little four year olds, two year olds carting wood early in the morning, dark, 100 yards, arm full of wood.  And they’d be crying and the grass would be that cold. 

Well, you’d get up there, two boys used to go to the dairy.  One would walk out about a mile getting all the cattle in.  We had about 60-70 cows to milk.  But the old cows used to be good, they’d be there all at the gate waiting.  But the young ones, you’d walk for miles to get them, drive them in.  They’d be cheeky as hell.  You know, you’re fighting a cow at four o’clock, half past five in the morning.  But a lot of people don’t like to hear me talk like this but when it’s cold your hands are freezing, you can’t put your hands in your pockets, nothing, you know.  Soon the cow would stop to make urine, we’d be there washing out hands in it to keep them warm.  That was true.  Every bloke that went to that mission can tell you that.

We had rabbit traps and they’d give us two or three rabbit traps to get pocket money.  You’d go and set a rabbit trap out and they’d give you two and sixpence for one, you know.  Which was good, two and sixpence was two and sixpence them days. 

You know, I was happy there, with the rest of the mob.  I had my nephews there.  They grew up at school outside the mission, and they grew up there together and back in the mission again.

[Contact with Family]
The first year they sent for me, I had to buy … you know, as long as I paid the fare, as long as they paid the fare, they put me in the bus and sent me back.  I wanted to stop and they said, “No, you’re going back.”  So I had to go back.  And then the second, third, fourth year I went up, to 1957.  It was good.  Good.  Seeing me old man there growing sunflowers, he loved sunflowers.  He used to grow beautiful sunflowers, over about two metres tall, with big flowers on them.  Mum was a great cook.  It was good to sit down and have a good, good, I mean a good feed.  Because in that mission there, I hope my mates are watching ... you had the enamel plate there and a bit of porridge on it and when you finished the sides used to be all black, that’s from the weevils, disgusting it was.  A couple of times I was tempted to walk over to the superintendent’s place and say, “Here, I’ll swap your plate.”  But then I knew what would be in store for me then, I’d get a good hiding.  You never back-chatted them.

[Life After the Mission]
After a while when I left the mission, I was 15 then, and a few of the other boys had gone, left, went out to farms and working and that, and they got me a job at Southwest Times there at Bunbury, as a compositor, printing compositor in the newspaper. So I stopped there for a year.

I went back home to Katanning. I got sick and tired of being stuck under a roof, I started to get claustrophobic and tried to take up shearing but nobody didn’t want a left hander in the shed see?  Because you have to face the opposite way to them. 

You know, you look back now, I’ve had some good jobs, I’ve worked along the main roads, I’ve seen water come into this place, I’ve seen Telecom, the telephone get better here, I’ve seen the wharf get put in, I’ve worked on the lot of them.

Thoughts about growing up at Roelands Mission

I didn’t, it didn’t bother me, you know.  I just let that water run under the bridge and it was gone.  But I always wondered when I first went there, then after I just sort of outgrew it.  I never had any animosity to anybody.  I just let it go, you know.  I was one.  A lot of people say that too.  At the same time, you do let them say it a little bit but what can you do about it?  You can’t do nothing.  The only thing you can do now is look after your own kids and make sure that that doesn’t happen.





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