Martha Borinelli talks about escaping the mission and going bush
Henry Cox: So how did … do you think … how do you think all those Aboriginal kids kept their identity and kept a sense of who they were with all of that change being heaped on them?
Martha Borinelli: Oh, I think they just did … you know, like we’d tell stories, you know, our stories were a big thing with keeping our identity I think. You know, like stories that our grandmothers had told us, you know, and how we used to sit around camp fires at night and what we used to do around … or go for walks with them and talk about, I think talking about the times when we were with our parents and how they … what they taught us and what they taught us in the bush, how to survive, you know, how to get bush tucker and things like that and how to get out there. So when we’d go for a picnic and that, instead of using the nun’s, you know, like an orange used to be a luxury type of thing, but we’d go out there and we’d kill a … we’d go and put a goanna on the fire and have a feed of goanna, you know, because that was our upbringing.
Henry Cox: Did they let you do that? Did they know you were doing that?
Martha Borinelli: No, we just went in the bush and did it ourselves on a picnic or on a walk, you know. And … and because that was part of our Aboriginal tradition, you know, and we were … then we go down there and get some jilgies or something like that or go and get, you know, kangaroo berries off the bush and have, you know, these beautiful berries, you know. That was our tucker and we thoroughly enjoyed it because that’s what we grew up with. And the turtles, you know, we’d have a turtle, we’d all sit down there and start eating, you know, and having a good old feed.
So that was kept – that kept us, I think, kept our tradition going and knowing that we are Aboriginals, you know, that we are Noongars and very strong, that’s a very strong connection when you know that you – you’ve got that background of what your ancestors taught you, you know, your grandparents and your parents and the bush tucker they showed you how to make and all that and we’d make our own damper and just chucked it in the fire because that’s what we – we knew what to do, you know. So that’s what kept us going.
From: Martha Borinelli, nee Taylor, interview for South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council, 15 May 2007
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Note: In some cases the written transcript has been edited with permission from the person interviewed and may differ slightly from the audio recording.
Permission to use this audio recording kindly granted by Carina Ward, Mark Borinelli, Sergio Borinelli and Andrew Borinelli