Turnga Tossy Baadjo
Turnga Tossy Baadjo - helicopter story [ORAL HISTORY]
Synopsis: Turnga Tossy Baadjo tells the story of when her family forst saw a helicopter. She also talks about a massacre in her Country and hiding from trackers.
Art centre(s): Warlayirti Artists
Catalogue number: CSROH_244_Tossie_Baddjo
Transcribed By: Monique La Fontaine
Location Recorded: Balgo
Cultural Protocols: Public Access - Restrictions on Use
Notes: Transcribed from fieldnotes by Monique La Fontaine. This transcript shifts between narration and direct speech from Anna.
Full transcript: Turnga Tossy Baadjo: Hello, my name is Tossy Baadjo and I’m Nangala and the story I’m going to tell is about what happened to my family when kartiya came and picked my families with the helicopter. I was born Irrawili [?] and then my parents would move around and then was came to that place was Natawalu, yeah [laughs]. Yeah, mmm. And my families saw helicopter was coming too, coming and they saw, because my family didn’t know what helicopter was they were calling devil, kukurr, kukurr means devil, that helicopter, big monster. [Correction 2009: We thought the helicopter was pilpinji – grasshopper] And they all ran and hide in the trees and spinifex and then Brandy and my brother Tjapanangka was there in the photo, and uncle, Uncle Wimmitji and Uncle Miki, they was there and when that helicopter land at that swamp they all ran and got their spear and start throwing and throwing it to, they thought it was a monster. And my mother had to dig a hole and put me in the, underneath the spinifex, because he was too scared to see a helicopter landed. They thought it, that helicopter gonna bite me and Melda, we was the smallest. [Tossy’s mother was taken by an eagle as a baby. She still has the claw marks on her shoulders]
So they went and meet the pilot. They dropped their spear. There were three drums. I don’t know who put three drums there for us survive for water. And this man who was driving the helicopter saw my families was skinny, not putting weight and he had to take, and Helicopter was bit sick too. That’s what my mother told me. He was sick and his mother. So Helicopter was crying, he wanted his mother to follow him. And we didn’t have anything to eat or we didn’t have anything to eat, so the helicopter pilot had to give us something to eat. And he was really sad and sorry to see all these young men were skinny and their ribs were showing and I was really, we was skinny too little ones, and bit sick us. Had to, and Helicopter went away now, he was bit sick. And we had to walk to Balgo. We walked from what that place now [Tim: Natawalu!] Natawalu, I don’t know ... yeah that place where Helicopter was picked up, we had to walk from that place to Jalyirr, had to go round and round looking for the track for our young, me and our young family was taken away by the police [Correction 2009: St John of God sister and priest], so we had to follow their track.
We saw those, our uncles and fathers, brothers getting sick all the way road. We had to follow the road now, Jalyirr right up to that turn off, through Billiliuna and Mulan road and we went through C25 [?], we had to stay there for a while, Melda make up a noise. We had to sleep there with no blanket, no fire, only a bit of shade in our tree, in, under the shade. Then we got up and e went to Kitji [?], where two trees are and my cousin had a baby boy, that was on Christmas day, Richard, we stay there … we saw a few stock man from Mulan. They gave us a killer and told us, ‘Don’t make a fire because we got a strict manager here’. So we was, I was that hungry, so I was I had to eat little bit of raw ... then we went to Parnkupiti, over the cut line going to Handover. We stay there and then we saw a light, a big bright light, pointing down to Balgo. And we had to walk now to the old sta ... um, to Kumantjayi [?] Creek and we saw a few like Helicop ... not, ah sorry Charlie Wallabi and Brandy, went hunting and they saw us and we, they went back to old mission and then after we went through where the hill is we saw Bye Bye and Sunfly and they told us, ‘Come on, we’ll take you over there to mission.’
And my mother was pretty sick too because when she was a young girl in the bush caught by an eagle [gestures to the top of her shoulders] yeah, she got all those marks here, here [shoulder/shoulder] and on his back and eyes from those claws, sharp one. So she was pretty sick she couldn’t handle me, she wasn’t looking after me properly. My sister was looking after me, Josephine. Took me to the dormitory now and Sister had to take me away. From there I never seen my families again. Me and Melda. That was a long walk we had from the bush, starving and Helicopter, when I saw Helicopter, I didn’t know his name I had to, I was listening to every kid: ‘Helicopter! Helicopter!’ and I was looking, ‘Who Helicopter? This one?’ and then I remember him, that he was taken away on the helicopter.
[Whispers fiercely] Nyamu?
Tim Acker: I got some question.
TA: When you were at Natawalu were you a little little girl?
TB: Little one, just crawling.
TA: And that’s the first time you been see kartiya then?
TB: That’s the first time I see kartiya.
TA: What did you think?
TB: I thought it was a ghost! Yeah.
TA: Did you touch those kartiya then or did you hide all the time.
TB: No, hide all the time.
TA: And where you been born?
TA: And where’s that Country?
TB: That’s near, not far from that place where Helicopter been picked up.
TA: You been back?
TB: No, I want to go back and see my Country but nothing. Never.
TA: What about that first time you seen bullock?
TB: Bullocky? Oh we thought it was kukurr, we didn’t know that bullocky, we kept on running away. My uncle was spearing, we thought it was a monster but nothing. [Helicopter talking in language background. Tossy whispering] What’s another question?
TA: When you travelled, walked up from Natawalu was there a track?
TB: There was a track [Helicopter: No, no track I been go up ‘copter] no, bullocky track, no, we saw a track, camel track and then after we saw our man who was caught by a tracker at the police that’s why we had to follow the track.
TA: That’s what you followed?
TB: All the way here.
TA: How many when you were walking up? How many people were you travelling with?
TB: I travelled with my families and my uncle families Wimmitji and my brother, with Loomoo’s husband and my cousin and Melda’s father, and his father name is Government, there.
TA: Wow. After this we’ll write out that family, put him on the paper ‘cause that would be really good to see how this family fit. So that was big mob people who walked?
TB: Yeah. We was the last people who came. [Chopper talking genealogy in background, Tim tells him we’ll do it after on the paper] We was the last people to came out from the bush.
TA: Why did you walk out, why did you leave that bush?
TB: No, because Government, Melda’s father went to Jalyuwan, Jalyuwan and so Father Kumantjayi, Father Alphonse, yeah and he told, he was like, ‘Bring all your families’, because there were lot of people was there from the bush and they had lotta food and they was a church.
TA: Where was that?
TA: So Wimmitji didn’t come up to Jalyuwan?
TB: No, Melda’s father Government, he went by himself to meet the others, like the Apostles, you know where they went? Like that. And Father Alphonse and Father McGuire said, ‘Go back and bring your families’. That’s why he went back to bush, got us into group and then we came walking.
TA: Big mob walking one time.
TB: Mmm. It was a really hot day and we had no water so my uncle saw a bird, a tree, and it had birds and he knew it had water underneath, so my auntie and my cousin and my sister, she was the youngest, I was only a, just starting up to be four years old, I had to dig and they found it so we had to drink and start walking and it was a really hot day. No, you know thing to eat, we couldn’t catch anything.
TA: So what did you think? ‘Sause walking up this way is a long way from your Country.
TB: Yeah I was worried it was too far. I was going to die because I was the youngest. I was the youngest [laughs] sorry. No, I was youngest and my sister was telling me how did you live? How did you survive right to Balgo? It was really hot, no shade to sleep. They had to dig a hole, sand, and put me and Melda in the cool, you know, underneath? Covered up with our cool. And my cousin brother who passed away his name Billy Wimmitji, that’s his name and Kevin Loomoo, we was the four youngest one who came. I was the smallest. My cousin brother Billy and Melda and Kevin Loomoo, yeah.
TA: And you said after you came and your Mum was sick. Did your Mum and Dad go other way or ... ?
TA: How come you never saw your parents again?
TB: I didn’t see my families because those sisters wouldn’t let us go out only, they don’t let us go, they keep us there, only, only, school holidays we go see our parents.
TA: Did your parents live Jalyuwan or did they go walking?
TB: No, only my father was travelling and walking, see he’s looking at, looking after his Country Nyila, only my mother was staying at Jalyuwan looking after the sheep. And he comes back, my father comes back from that place, that’s the time I see my father when he, when I meet him half way road where that Jalyuwan Creek is, that road goes to round the Lake.
TA: And when you been growing up did you see those other drovers travelling the stock route from Billiluna down?
TB: I didn’t see them I was in the dormitory all the time. The only thing I seen was my father when he passed away that’s all.
TA: Did he pass away here?
TB: Yeah, where that brown building near Palitja Maparn office, that’s where was the morgue was.
TA: Anything else for story you wanna tell?
TB: I was gonna tell you that other story that my mother, not my, yeah my mother told me about police and a tracker. They were coming to that place, I forgot that place it’s really hard to say that name. My families went hunting and me and Melda we were dig, we was put in the hole, covered up, put a spinifex on top of us and then, because they saw a tracker, and police coming with a horse, horses galloping, and people was sitting around meeting place, they was talking, they didn’t hear the horses galloping, and one of them, one of the young fella, do I have to call my brother name? [Tim: yeah you can] yeah I can call him easy. [Tim: yuwayi] Johnny, Johnny Lakapanja saw the horses coming, kukurr! kukurr! But we didn’t know what was horse was you know, it’s a mamu! mamu! And they all got up it was too late, the elders got up with a spear trying to spear the horse, the police, but they shoot him, they shoot everyone. This is a really story and it’s a true story and I never forget this story. They shot at our boss, the leader and their boss, everyone: ladies, young girls, pregnant girls, horses putting weight on the little ones and they took all the young men and they put a chain on their neck and they carried a ball in their hand and they had to walk. But lucky me and Melda, lucky our parents put us in a hole and put sand, so we can’t scream, you know they might hear us and they might shoot us, but they put us in the hole, covered up with the sand and they put a spinifex. We could easy see the policemen shooting and trackers and our parents came back from hunting and they was crying and my uncle too, but my uncle’s brother was with a chain, didn’t see him. Wimmitji was there with a thing, with a chain and a ball. What is, all round we could hear them crying, some and my mother and my cousin sister had to dig us, pull us out. We went down to see that place it was all blood everywhere. After that they got there, put them in a hole and put a kerosene on them and it was really sad. I was always think about that place. But it’s a really sacred place now. But when I go to Wangkatjungka for these funerals I’ll ask my mother where that place is, where they got shot for no reason. That’s why I told my children the story and when I tell the story to my children they have tears come out, they think about, must be their great great grandfathers and they great uncles, aunties. I lost my families there. I didn’t see my mother, my mother’s mother, my father’s mother, never. They was there. I keep going, telling stories to my children, even my stories when I came from the bush. That’s all the stories. Mmm.
[KD’s notebook from conversations with Eubena & Nyumi at Balgo: Biddee Baadjo, Tossy & Melda last lot to come in to Balgo.]
Rights: Cultural Owner & Storyteller: Turnga Tossy Baadjo; © FORM, transcript only
Provenance: This material is sourced from Ngurra Kuju Walyja — the Canning Stock Route Project, which was initiated in 2006 by FORM and developed in partnership with Birriliburu, Kayili, KALACC, Mangkaja, Martumili, Ngurra, Papunya Tula, Paruku IPA, Warlayirti and Yulparija artists and art centres.