Stolen Generations

Alternative content

Get Adobe Flash player

Personal Statement

Everybody keeps asking about my story so I tell it. I want to people to learn from it.


Ernie Sarah

Duration: 21:36

My name is Ernie Sarah.  I was born in Moola Bulla.  My mother’s name was Sarah, but I don’t know what my father.  My language is Kidja and I can still can talk it yep, never forgot.

[Life at Moola Bulla Station]
Well a lot of things we learned there because, plant webs, and we use to ride horses.  The horse used to throw me that many times but I still used to really like horses you know.  Yeah a lot of things we use to do in Moola Bulla.  Or we used to do a lot of sports and things too you know.  Well them days old people used to make the football out of stocks, you know the stocking.  Fill it up and make them real tight.  We use to use that like a football and play cricket.  Oh there used to be good cricketers in Moola Bulla.

[Being Taken]
About six years old.  That time when where one was taken away was ‘46, 1946.  Well I wouldn’t know the date.  They told us oh they got us to this big bathroom, girl’s bathroom and they said they had us all there, and they said, “Oh we’ll take you for a long drive.”  We didn’t know what they meant.  Long drive, we drove up to Beagle Bay.  Yeah, gee whizz, we was crying too you know. 

We got to go on the truck.  The truck was there already see.  It had swags and everything on the truck already, so they just sort us out and tell us to get on the truck.  We didn’t like to get on that truck.  We was real frightened and started crying, “But you just got to get on that truck”, they said, that’s it.  That’s when we pick up Cooper then from L. station.  That wasn’t too far from Moola Bulla, Johnny Cooper.  When it’s in, I think someone told them that truck will be here, can they pick you up?  We found them running in that creek.  And them kids reckon oh there’s Cooper.  So they grabbed him and he started crying then.  He was pretty small then.  Must be, must have been four years old I think.  So we were all crying when Cooper was crying.

Yeah well that night we camped there in L., next day we took off.  We had two old people with us, a man and a woman.  They use to like do a bit of cooking when we was on the road.  Well they they didn’t know what was happening for us you know.  All they know that we was going to Beagle Bay only for that long trip but we went for long time.  Yeah I use to look after these two girls.  Their mother told me if I get, they had big swags, they had to roll their swag out every night.  Roll the swag up in the morning.  I use to get these boys to give me a hand.  Great big swag.  I had to look after them two girls right up to Broome see and that’s where they got off and yeah when we got to Broome, we reckoned this is a big river.  First time we seen this salt water, oh crikey, we was real frightened.  So we put some of those kids off there in Broome and the rest of us went straight onto Beagle Bay then.  There was quite a few boys and girls and now a lot of them passed away now in Beagle Bay, yeah.

[Ernie’s mother’s reaction when he was taken]
That day I was there, when they seen us getting on the truck see, they didn’t even know they going to take us away.  We didn’t even know. Yeah they’re crying, their heads were stone and everything.  Oh it was a really bad day that day for them old people.  Yeah, it was really sad that day.  That was a really sad day for all of them you know.  But there was nothing they could do really, I’d say you know, because that was a big trick you know, like they said you’re going for a big trip.  We didn’t know how far we were going you know, yeah.

[Life at Beagle Bay Mission]
We didn’t know where, we didn’t know how long we’ll be there you know.  We thought we’ll be going back, but no.  Yeah, all really sorrow I tell you.  We can try to go back on the half way and wait for this truck when he was going back you know.  But, the other kids told us you know, you can’t do that.  So, so we didn’t try to go and wait for this truck you know on the road.  Otherwise they was going to, they thought you might get, Father might growl, you know.  So anyway we didn’t go and wait for this truck to go back, Broome.  Yeah it took a long while before we got use to it you know. 

First day we were frightened we crawled under the truck.  We were real frightened of all the other kids you know.  But then Father told us boys and girls to make friends with us you know.  So we felt a little bit better.  They were pretty good with us, real friendly.  That was mainly the best part of the thing I reckon.  Then they look after us you know in the dormitory.  It was alright.  First thing, that first day was, in the afternoon just took us to the boys dormitory and showed us around.  Take us down to the creek and and that night we was really, really relieved.  That when the thing really come to us, you know, sorrow.  And then next morning, Father tell us to get ready for school straight away, next day.  That first three weeks, then we went holiday.  Well that took our mind off you know for that few weeks. 

Took us nearly five, six months I think to get more use to it, you know.  We was really frightened.  Strange country, yeah.  Well we was getting use to the place, a lot of things use to happen like riding donkeys and things like that.  Fishing.  Well we never use to do fishing in Moola Bulla.  Not bad.  I use to get some fish.  Oh Salmon, Barro, that’s what I like really.  Cook them on the charcoal you know.  You ever tried them on charcoal?  Oh beautiful taste, especially with the mangrove wood you know. Gee, really better taste, and when you fry them I mean.  School is that use to keep us a bit occupied you know. 

But after school we use to, I use to go and work in Blacksmith shop.  Do plumbing work and things.  Making buckets and all sorts of things you know.  They had this machine room from Germany or sometimes we’d go farm.  Work in the farm there.  Yeah, they use to teach us a lot of trades and things you know.  Cementing, brick laying.  A lot of things to do, you know that doesn’t keep us off our mind too.  Well in the morning first thing you got to go to church, about five, six o’clock, then after that go to school.  You’d be all day in school till about three o’clock.  Then after school you would go and work either in garden.  You would go first in the garden.  I use to go this manure, fill a big bag there with manure.  Everyone use to do that first before you go anywhere else.  Then you could go on wherever you worked till about five o’clock.  Six o’clock go and have tea. 

Go back to dormitory and then we say a prayer before you go to sleep, and then you go to bed.  Use to be early you know, they use to, got to bed pretty early.  Yeah well we got use to all that, you know.  We used to have some time for playing hockey and things you know. Hockey and football.  Tennis we use to play.  Cricket, I use to like cricket.  Well they was pretty good to me.  I got hit once from Father when I was going to colony with the married people you know, then come back about eight, nine o’clock.  Oh I use to get this. 

And in school, in the morning, sometimes when you know they take it in turns to get the donkeys in the morning. We got to get donkeys for the old people.  They cut firewood and that.  So one day we came back a bit late and before that Sister told me to, Sister asked me if I can plait whip you know.  I said yeah.  I used to learn to make whip when I was in Moola Bulla.  So anyway she told me to plait one about this long, which granite.  I made one up like this and that very whip I made I got a hiding with it for missing one that morning.  Yeah, same whip. 

Three or four boys used to speak the same language. When they took off, see they were a bit older than me and when they went back, I didn’t have no one to talk to then. But I still had them in my, what’s its name.  I can understand more you know.  A bit too hard to speak the language, but I could still understand you know. Yeah, never forgot my language.  Well mainly a lot of them brothers were from Germany.  But they’re tough from Germany.  And Fathers, a few Australian Fathers we had you know.  Some of them use to feel a bit hot.  They wanted to go back to Melbourne and Sydney, but they used to get through, you know.  Real nice people.  Well I’ll say, they was like our fathers and mothers to us, you know, them Sisters was really good and Fathers.  And I’m grateful like they taught us you know a lot of things about work and things, it’s really good.

[Contact with Family]
Nothing, nothing.  There was nothing to contact them you know.  In those days they had all peddle shift wireless you know. You peddle. Today you’ve got this phone now today, today really good you know.  I think if we’d had that it would have been a lot better you know, talking back to your mum and that. 

Well my sister was in Moola Bulla and she was married and then she went to Darwin then and that’s where they lived in all this time.  She passed away last year.  Eighteen I think.  Must have been when I was 18 you know I went back but my mother and family was gone.  And my sister already went to Darwin see.  Oh really sad you know.  There was no one there like my real real family you know.  Still your own mother, that’s the main thing.  Mother and grandmother, I said you know, they’re not there.  No one to welcome me you know. 

That’s right when I left school, when I got married I went back after, I went back from here, from Noonkanbah.  I went back to Beagle Bay and got married when I was 21.  Then I went to Bidyadanga to work there.  Father asked me if I could go there.  I said, ‘Yeah.’  It was supposed to be only for one year, but I was there for seven years.  Then one day when I went into Broome, my, one of the nuns came and told me that your mother died, she died here.  And this old maid of ours, and good thing too when she died, when she was dying they baptised her.  But I didn’t’ know when my grandmother and aunty, they died in Fitzroy.  Yeah.  So I never went to any of those funerals. You know that was real sad, really.

[Life After Beagle Bay Mission]
Then when I turned 14 I left the school.  Then they told me to finish from school, then I worked, must have been for half a year working there.  Then I went to Broome and got job in Baker shop and then from Baker shop I went and out in a station here, Edith Station.  I use to do windmill, looking after windmills and things, cementing troughs and tanks.  It was pretty good then.  At least always getting paid.  While in Beagle Bay we was only getting rations see.  I use to smoke, you know them packet of tobacco like this, use to cut them in half and you have half and the other bloke have half.  All that work you do, all for that. 

[One day Ernie’s stepsisters contacted him]
What happened, I didn’t know that my father he was managing in Sangoo, and I was in Langrands, not far.  But them boys use to tell me you know, “Oh you’re father, we keep telling your father that you’re his son”, but he never ever come to tell me anything you know.  I use to pass him and he pass me.  Never use to talk to one another.  So, anyway, all the girls found out and they wanted to meet me see, his daughters.  From his, white girl.  She told me you know you’re my brother and things like that, I like to meet up with you and that.  I said yeah alright, I said you know.  ”You won’t get mad.”  I said, “No I can’t get mad,” I said, “I’d like to meet you too.”  So I went to Broome one day and I met her.  Then from that day on we you know, like brother and sister.  I see her every time I go to Broome.  She cuddle up with me you know like brother and sister, really good.  But they was really good to me you know.  And I never had that family tree in Broome, oh it was like we knew each other for a long-time.  That was really good you know.  Big party we had.  No that was really really happy night that night.

[Thoughts About Being Taken]
Must have been when I was 21 that was the time I was wondering why I was taken away and you know, I think would have been was pretty good for us too I reckon you know really.  Learn more trades when we were in Beagle Bay.  All that was really good I reckon.  Well I say we never think in first place, but you know now you think like you know, it’s been good you know really.  So I don’t know what I’d do if I was still back there, you know.  Yeah, and become a Catholic and that you know that’s pretty good.  No well I say that’s another thing you know it’s really hard to take kids away from their mother.  Well them days our mothers never drink nothing, nothing.  Didn’t even know what to drink you know.  Depending on a lot of these other ones use to be around Broome and that mother’s use to drink in in streets and that, then they use to take the kids to dormitory and they all, that’s a bit different again.  But us, was different again you know, because our mother’s never know to drink nothing. 
And when you come to think about it, worst time is night time I reckon, night time.  You know when you try to go to sleep and sometimes hard to go to sleep and then a lot of this things come into your mind you know. 

That’s the worst time, night time.  But gee whiz it took a long time to get it out of your system you know.  If I wasn’t taken away and all that where would I be and tings like that.  Lot of things come in your mind, you know.  Oh I tell you what sometimes just about make you crazy thinking about it.

[Ernie tells his story to his children]
Well I’ve got four boys, four girls, even.  And now I get quite a few grandchildren.  Well they know a lot of that I use to tell them a lot of times you know and that’s what they know what is, what it’s like you know.  Well like how we was taken away and things.  Today you blokes lucky, government never take you away from us. Not like us you know that was really hard I reckon you know. To get over it, it’s a really hard thing that.  I think make you sick too you know, I reckon.  But now I don’t worry no more now.





Contact us | About Us | Terms & Conditions

© Stolen Generations' Testimonies Foundation
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers should exercise caution when viewing this website as it contains images of deceased persons.The people speaking in this website describe being removed from family and community. They regard themselves as belonging to the Stolen Generations.