Name: Taku Rosie Tarco
Taku Rosie Tarco - Coming out of the desert [ORAL HISTORY]
Synopsis: Taku Rosie Tarco tells of coming out of the desert to Billiluna, and tasting flour and bullock. She also talks about the Nada mob, and wanting to go back to look for her mother. Rosie tells about seeing camels on the Canning Stock Route as she travelled around it.
Language spoken: Wangkajunga, Walmajarri
Catalogue number: CSROH_53_Taku_Rosie_Tarco_King
Interviewed By: John Carty
Translated By: Putuparri Tom Lawford, Monique La Fontaine
Location Recorded: Fitzroy Crossing
Cultural Protocols: Public Access
Notes: Additions were given when the permission was gathered on 2008-09-02; these changes and additions have been made to this transcript. The original recording of this oral history is damaged.
Full transcript: Taku Rosie Tarco King: I travelled from my Country. I was only a kid, what you call a little girl [manga]. I went travelling and left my Country. I was travelling from that way. What’s the name of this place? From out in the bush, in the desert. We walked, a long, long way. I left my mother behind (and nyupa too). I’ve got no mother now, I had to leave her behind. My ngamaji [mother]. The people I was travelling with only took me with them, yeah.
We were travelling west, this side. We were travelling north. We went and got, what’s this thing called? That biggest water … a mighty well. We were [acts it out] drawing the water up from the well. We got that water out, you know. There was so much water. We got it out, we had water then.
I don’t know what you’d call me. I was walking, travelling, poor thing. Everyone was leaving the Country then. My aunty took me. She’s passed away now. We lost her in Fitzroy [Crossing]. We travelled all the way there from the desert. We came out and all the people there saw us. We travelled a really long way, eh? We killed goannas and wild pussycats and everything while we were travelling. We were killing them to eat. We were eating pussycats (meow!), all the way along. We left.
Yeah, but we came out of the desert at, all the people at, what do you call that place? That old Billiluna. All the people were telling me, ‘You call this place Billiluna’. We came out of the desert, straight through. At Billiluna we were staying there, and I didn’t know about flour. White man’s flour. He was telling me, ‘You have to eat it, poor thing’. He gave it to me. He looked after me, poor thing. We had no mummy.
All the way to Billiluna a big mob of us travelled from the desert. We came this way, through the Canning Stock Route to Billiluna, yeah. We came out there. There was a big mob of people at Billiluna. There were too many people to remember them all. Everywhere we sat down people came and cried with us, ‘Oh, you’ve got nothing!’ They cried when they sat with me because I was so skinny. I had no mother to look after me. And now look at me! I’m the fattest one! I had no mummy then, poor thing. We had to leave my mother and my brother behind.
Halfway on our journey we killed one bullock and ate it. I didn’t know what a bullock was. It was really big and everyone was telling me, ‘This belongs to kartiya [white people], we’re not allowed to eat it. But you can eat it.’ I said ‘Not me! I’m not going to eat it.’ I was speaking in my language, you know. I was talking in Juwaliny. That’s the language my mother spoke.
We came right up to Billiluna. We didn’t have anything, no clothes, nothing. That kartiya [white person] and all the people there gave us dresses. We only travelled wearing a panti panti [lap lap, front covering], with a little bit in the front and nothing behind. We made them for ourselves, yeah. I was a big girl when we came out at Billiluna with all the old people there. I came out of the desert to the Billiluna mob. All of us who were travelling ended up there. I didn’t know what was going on. They took me, poor thing. I sat down quiet. I didn’t talk to them, I was shame, poor thing. He gave us a dress, you know. Everything was wrong way, long way. We came out there and as a young one I got fatter then. We came from a long way away in the desert Country. We stayed there, camped with Billiluna mob and they looked after us. They looked after us. They looked after us well. I had no mummy.
I had to leave my mother behind. And my daddy, my father, passed away. I left my mother behind, I left walking. He passed away at Cherrabun, old station, near the house. Mummy passed at Timber Creek. When I came this way, we came in first. Then another mob went back and brought my mother this way too. We were first, a long time ago. I grew up there then. Poor thing, I was walking around by myself killing goanna to eat and then we stopped when we got to Billiluna. The people said to us ‘You mob have been travelling a long way from the desert.’ That man said that to me. Then they gave us a dress but we didn’t know how to wear it. We put it on the wrong way. We didn’t know how to put it on straight, poor things. We were walking from the desert all the way to old Billiluna.
I left my mother behind. Me and Nada [Rawlins] mob, we lost our mother from where we started travelling that way. My aunty and uncle were travelling and Nada’s family, all of us. We brought our husbands with us too, we brought them from that way. Juku Juku, he had two wives. But not me, I wasn’t married to him. But we lost one of our sisters who was married to him. But he wasn’t my husband. We say down there now, at that place, that side, near Halls Creek. I don’t know the name of that place, another community [Moola Bulla]. You know, we travelled a long way from there poor things.
We stopped there but we wanted to go back to our Country. We thought there might be more of our countrymen there left behind. I said, ‘I want to go back and look for my mother.’ I was telling all the Bunuba mob, these people here [in Fitzroy Crossing] – they looked after me, ‘We came here from the desert.’ Then they [Lanyi] brought one truck with a trailer and we brought the people in here one by one. The old men went and got them and brought them this way, a long time ago now. I was grown up then. I was living there, I’d gotten big [pulku], I grew up. I’d come here. Nada and my aunty who passed away in Fitzroy at the old mission and I we had all come this way.
Then I went to GoGo Station. One old man picked us up and brought us this way. We were staying at that old camp, old mission. The people were all talking to me and crying over me but I sat down quietly, I didn’t talk. I was shame, you know, I wanted to look for my mother. She might have been there somewhere. Then we went to GoGo Station, travelling there for holiday [law] time. Then someone said to me, ‘Your mother is there and your father. The two of them have come up here from the desert. They all came from the desert.’ But then we lost my mother at Cherrabun Station, old station. Close to here. I’ve got no mother, I’ve got nothing. Lost our mummy at Timber Creek. I lost my brother [Kumunjayi Skipper] too just recently here in Fitzroy. Now there’s only us girls living here in Fitzroy. We have one more sister at Looma. Penny la [lives at] Looma.
Then I went to Cherrabun Station, old station. I came and visited all the people there and they said, ‘Your daddy’s here, but somebody did something, he’s very sick.’ We lost him there, my daddy. We lost our mummy, we’ve got nothing left. I lost my brother. The only people left who belong to Japingka are us [Rosie and Penny K-Lyons], all of us little girls.
Oh sorry, sorry, that’s right. I forgot. We were sitting there near that top end [of the Canning Stock Route?]. We saw a man come there with a donkey and what do you call them? Camels. That kartiya [white man] had a big mob of camels with him. He threw something in the water. We were looking at him from there. We were watching in shock, thinking ‘What’s that big animal? It’s too big!’ That’s what you call them, camels. I never told you. That big camel and that kartiya too. He threw something in the water then he got up and made the camel sit. Then he got some water and gave it to the camel to drink. We were watching for a while then we took off. We told the others, ‘There’s a man there with a funny sort of animal. We’ll have to go, he might kill us.’ He gave water to the camel to drink. We went away in fright. That was at one of the wells, there’s kalyu, water in the wells. That was near Kaningarra road. Not Kaningarra this side. I don’t know where that Kaningarra road is on this side. Might have been the well on that side that we went to.
We were hiding, we were frightened of the camel. Then we started walking back home, all the time looking around for that man with the camel. ‘Oh, he’s gone I think.’ He got up and went away. We saw his tracks on the road. We were on the other side of the road. We stayed there for a while, all the while looking for that man with the camel. ‘He’s gone.’ Then we went away.
This is how they get water from the well. There are two handles on this thing. From there they put it down the well and bring up water. We drank from there, us mob when we were travelling through the first time. That’s when we didn’t know about camels. That’s why we ran. We were frightened of that camel. I didn’t know anything about them. That was the first time I saw one. Now they’ve got a big mob of camels in my Country, Japingka. We visited Japingka lately [for land claim trip]. We went straight there through Kulku. But I stay here now. I live here [in Fitzroy Crossing]. I never go anywhere or live anywhere else. I stay at Mindi Rardi. My home is there, close, yeah.
Rights: Cultural Owner & Storyteller: Taku Rosie Tarco; © 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.