2023 National NAIDOC Week
Posted on July 2, 2023
This year’s NAIDOC Week theme, ‘For Our Elders’ holds a special place in our hearts here at Juniper.
With Residential Aged Care Homes and Home and Community Care services scattered across the Kimberley region, Juniper harbours profound respect and appreciation for the culturally diverse communities we serve.
To celebrate and acknowledge the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture in the Juniper community, during NAIDOC Week we will be sharing incredible yarns from some of our residents and clients in Derby, Kununurra and Fitzroy Crossing.
Some reflect on what it means to be an Elder, while others remember the important role that Elders played in their own lives.
We believe it’s important to share the wisdom, lived experience and voices of Aboriginal peoples and hope that their stories shine a light on the role Elders play in their communities.
Juniper Guwardi Ngadu Residential Aged Care Home in Fitzroy Crossing
Jimmy Freddy was born in Noonkanbah and has two sisters. He describes himself as a “young soul” and enjoys listening to music. His favourite artist is country music singer, Slim Dusty.
During his younger years in Noonkanbah, he was taught by his stepfather to ride horses and also learnt how to become a stockman. He worked as a stockman for many years in Noonkanbah. One of his favourite places is his wife Jill’s country, Wangkatjungka.
He met Jill in 1968 during a visit to Christmas Creek, and they had a daughter together. He is also a proud grandfather. He is currently a resident at Juniper Guwardi Ngadu Residential Aged Care Home, a place he now calls home and loves very much.
“I am a Walmajarri Woman born in the AIM hospital near the old bridge and grew up in the UAM Mission here in Fitzroy Crossing spending my younger years schooling here in Fitzroy.
I started working at the store in Kadjina Community and then spent many years working in the homemaker centre in the school, where she enjoyed cooking for all the kids, I loved that job.
My favourite adventures growing up were collecting bushtucker and fishing. I love the taste of gooseberries and bush tomato. My stories of these many adventures I had when I was growing up are reflected in my paintings.
When I moved to Guwardi, I started to learn to paint through the support of Mangkaja.
Many of my paintings are of Jarrampa (fresh water prawn), sawfish, Barramundi, Turtles, and Gugaroo (fresh water mussells) circled by the waterholes and bush foods.”
Juniper Numbala Nunga Residential Aged Care Home in Derby
Carmel was born in Derby and is from the Nyikina mob. All her family are from the Derby region, including her father and grandmother.
She attended a boarding school in Perth for six years but later returned to the Kimberley, where she met her husband.
Carmel has travelled extensively throughout her life, including to New Zealand.
Tennis was a big part of her life, and was one of her favourite hobbies. She even played competitively.
Horse racing was also a big part of Carmel’s life – she and her husband used to own race horses.
She was also a keen photographer and during her years living in Derby she captured much of the local landscape.
Born in the Kimberely, Gudu is from the Ngarinyin mob and was raised by a Mission family alongside her brother and two sisters.
She later relocated to Derby, where she worked in the local hospital.
During her time in the Kimberley, Gudu travelled extensively, often by boat.
She is the proud mum of seven children and has many beautiful grandchildren.
A highly respected Elder in the Kimberley, Gudu teaches language and shares stories with the younger generations, which has inspired her large extended family to continue sharing stories from their traditional culture.
Gudu’s husband, Alan, was a respected Worrorra leader who taught young children in Wotjulum and Mowanjum Mission Schools, and was also renowned for his pearl shell carvings. Together with Gudu, the couple ran the local mission store for many years.
Gudu is a famous artist, with much of her work sought-after and displayed in the Art Gallery of Western Australia and the Art Gallery of South Australia.
She is known for her bush tucker paintings, and is particularly fond of Waanungga (bush honey). Her favourite food is fresh fish.
Dennis grew up in the beachside town of Nhulunbuy, about 600km east of Darwin in the Northern Territory.
He is a skilled stockman, having begun his career working on a sheep station.
During the course of his career, Dennis worked at many places including Yeeda Station in the Kimberley.
An eager football fan, fishing and hunting are among Dennis’ favourite hobbies, with snake and goanna being two of his favourite foods.
Dennis prefers bush food as he believes it makes ‘Indigenous people strong and healthy’.
Meet Mary ‘Aggie’
Growing up in an orphanage in Broome, Mary ‘Aggie’ was raised by nuns along with her two sisters.
She went to a boarding school in Perth, and also lived in Beagle Bay, where she has family.
She later returned to Derby, where she married and had three daughters.
Aggie enjoyed a career as a dental nurse, where she worked in both Broome and Derby, and her husband was the chairman of the Land Council.
Aggie is a proud grandmother.
Her favourite food is anything spicy, like curry. Playing the piano is one of her favourite hobbies and she enjoys sports such as basketball and cricket.
Walter’s grandfather was originally from China.
His father was a train driver in Derby who transported goods from the local goods shed to the jetty, transported visitors to town and also moved wool bails to the jetty for loading onto the boats.
Born at Derby hospital, Walter went to the local school in town before relocating to Perth.
He later returned to Derby, where he got married and had his children.
Walter’s daughter was a talented cartoonist for the local newspaper.
His favourite food is boab nuts roasted on hot coals.
Walter is a talented artist and has also mastered the art of boab carving.
He loved to play sports such as hockey, cricket, tennis, football and soccer, and also enjoyed teaching his children to play sports.
Juniper Gerdewoonem Residential Aged Care
Meet Aunty Mary Thomas
Growing up on Marble Downs Station, Aunty Mary worked there from a young age until her adult years, before eventually moving to Warmun Community (Turkey Creek) with her nine children. Her children were sent to Broome to attend school.
Aunty Mary is a lover of song and dance and often sings ‘healing songs’. She is very proud of her culture and heritage, and loves attending ‘women business ceremonies’ where she passes her knowledge onto the next generation.
Over the years, Mary has travelled the world to perform traditional songs and dances. But when she returns to her country home, she enjoys spending time with her children and grandchildren, sitting round a fire sharing bush tucker and bush yarns.
Meet Aunty Mona
From Bow River Country in the Kimberley, Mona worked on Bow River Station, a place where she has many fond memories. She remembers her ‘boss’ at the station, a lady named Maggie Lilly. Aunty Mona would look after Maggie’s children on the station, and eventually got married there and had her own children on the station.
Aunty Mona loves singing and dancing at women’s ceremonies, and also enjoys sharing stories of how she travelled far and wide performing traditional songs and dances.
She has also travelled to Paris, and laughs about how she always wanted to learn how to speak French. Despite all the traveling around the world and country, Aunty Mona most enjoys bush life. She said living out in the bush and eating bush tucker is the best life, especially when her mob is sitting around the fire telling stories and sharing how they hunted during the day.
Meet Reginald Birch
Reginald ‘Reggie’ was born in the Forrest River Mission in Oombulgurri, eventually moved to Wyndham, where he spent most of his years. He has worked in many different jobs in his time, from an underwater demolition diver to a tour guide and a drover.
He is also a published author having released his book, ‘Wyndham Yella Fella’ in 2003. The book recounts his years growing up in Wyndham both during and after World War II, where he escribes the challenges of growing up in an Australian Aboriginal family among white settlers in WA.
Reggie has been very active in local, state, national and international politics. In 1990, he was received an accolade as ‘Aboriginal of the Year’.
He is the father of four children and has many grandchildren.
Reggie’s father, Cyprian Birch, was well-known in Wyndham and was respectively known as “The Guinea”, which means 21 Shillings.
A respected artist and writer, what makes Reggie most happy is sharing his story with others.