Joe Northover is a Beeliargu Wilman Noongar. He was born in Collie and has strong connections to the river. He tells of living the Noongar way off the land, eating bush tucker. He and his siblings would hunt for goanna, turtles and gilgies. He also went to school and would read the paper to his father. Joe tells of the strong ties within his family, with his aunts and grandmothers. He speaks of the easier life he had, compared to his parents, who had to carry citizenship papers and had restrictions placed on where they could go and when.
I am Beeliargu, forming part of the Wilman Noongar tribe, with family links to both the south-west and the Pilbara. My totem is Kwerdlung – the currawong.
I grew up all around Collie and Duranillin. When I was young I spent time camping with my family in the bush in an old canvas tent, poison-picking and sucker-bashing at Quindalling and Boddington. I hunted kardas (goannas) and other animals and cooked them in the coals on a camp-fire.
My dad worked on the railways. During weekends and holidays he often worked picking potatoes and pumpkins, and as a child I would work with him. Sometimes I was paid with a lolly-bag.
I have worked as a police officer and obtained the rank of senior police constable. I also worked in New Guinea with the Office of Youth Affairs attached to the Australian High Commission, and as a health worker in bush communities around Alice Springs. For over twenty years I have worked with the State Emergency Services as a volunteer.