September, 30 2012
Port Hedland
Annet van der Voort



Marapikurrinya, that’s our name for Port Hedland. You get five creeks here, it’s also the name of a family group that our father passes onto us, to all the family, me and my kids and we’re still part of the Marapikurrinya clan group. There’s a place where the fresh water is flowing into salt water, drawing into one big yinda, freshwater flowing in to make those creeks, that’s the yinda now. That’s a place where water always is, people could always drink fresh water and it’s where the rainbow serpents lay.

When the cyclone come from somewhere else, it pass through here, the snake get up, it was laying in the yinda here, he fight with the other snake. The warlu always gets up from the yinda to fight this other snake, coming with the cyclone, he get up and fight with the other one, to protect the area here, you see the forked tongue of the lightening sparking, he’s fighting trying to protect the land.

I was born in Native Lock Hospital here in Marapikurrinya in the 1960’s. My sister and some other people were also born before me; maybe it opened in the early 1950s. That’s where all our people from surrounding areas, Nyamal or Nyiyaparli from all the stations and different tribes would be brought if they had leprosy or other sicknesses.

Afterwards our mothers took us away from Two Mile, because the Mount Newman railway put a rail line there. I was shipped around all over the place, Koombana, Yandeyarra, to Twelve Mile. Before that we were going around with my old father, he had a Holden FJ. I remember that I went out to De Grey Station, Yarri, and there was no bitumen along the old corrugated road. It was a very rough journey.

When we were cattle mustering at Yandeyarra Station there was an old stone school, made from rocks. All of us kids were staying here at the time, growing watermelon and fruit trees, that’s what I remember at that time. We used to wait in the stone house for the plane to come along, when we heard the plane we know: teacher coming from here, coming to Yandeyarra, see the plane. That teacher would be teaching us out on the lawn or in the stone classroom.

When people were living at 12 mile, when the sun come down you had to leave town and go back to your community, you’re not allowed to be in town, that’s what the police said. Hard times, that time. I know a lot of people, they think the country belonged to them, not belong to the white fella and they get in trouble by the police, get locked up or something, they know the land belong to Aboriginal people, the Kariyarra mob.

I remember a long time ago, we used to go fishing, looking for crab, some other boys and girls also. We would get permission from our family first, if you want to go fishing you can’t go here or there, like at Twelve Mile, you know you can’t go up the river, you got to go down river, old people would tell us don’t go this side and respect the old people and the culture.

We always used to walk when we was young fellas, could walk miles and miles, all the girls and boys have a swim, tides coming in, and when the tides going out, going to the reef, getting crabs, come back home give it to the old people, have a feed with the old people. Now, when I look at the people today, I don’t see much old people.

All of us kids we learn ourselves, go down and make a little bit of spear, rough and ready, piece of wood, bamboo whatever we can find, get the old line from somewhere, lagoon, or a rock. We would go out and see the hole and spear all the fishes. We used to go everywhere at the time, even down the wharf, but now there are security guards, and road blocks.

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