Name: Mantararr Rosie Williams
Rosie Williams - Early life and the Canning Stock Route [ORAL HISTORY]
Other Speaker/s: Ngalangka Nola Taylor, Morika Bilijabu
Synopsis: Rosie Williams speaks about her life, family, Dreaming, and the way she stayed away from the Canning Stock Route. Rosie also tells the story about how when the Jigalong missionaries put lice medicine in her hair, she thought they were going to chop her head off!
Language spoken: Manyjilyjarra
Catalogue number: CSROH_274_Rosie_Williams
Interviewed By: Monique La Fontaine
Transcribed By: Ngalangka Nola Taylor
Translated By: Ngalangka Nola Taylor
Location Recorded: Punmu
Cultural Protocols: Public Access - Verbal Consent
Notes: Fieldnotes transcribed by Monique La Fontaine and translated by Nola Taylor on the spot. Some family information was explained before the oral history began.
Full transcript: Mantararr Rosie Williams: They wandered round and lost their grandmother. My two mother from Kurtararra in Juwaliny Country, and another old grandfather, adopted them through her grandmother [became father for Rosie’s two mothers when he married their mother]. That old man, his wives went hunting and he passed away early in the morning, and all the grandson and granddaughters [Rosie’s mothers] tried to wake him up but he passed away. And mothers and fathers went hunting, leaving kids to look after him. When they came back they saw him still lying in the sun and start crying, hit ‘em self. The kids thought he was alive and just asleep when the mothers and grandmothers came back.
They left him and went to another place, south. Wawul near Lake Blanche. They stayed around and kept going to Tarl, not too far from Kutupa. And went west from there collecting kalaru – black seeds. Place called Jantinti. So they used to stay around claypan, no yinta [spring], kept on going west to Karlamilyi – lungkl [witchetty grub] place top of Rudall River. Manantayarra and Jintirinpalya – windy place. The river runs and ends in a big flood place.
Morika Bilijabu: Claypan. Good place.
MRW: And they followed along the river. There were a lot of soak and they went near Jartarr’s Country (Lily Long), Pinartipartujarra, Warnman Country. Pinarti means red seed and partu means one. And they used to eat melon, big melon.
Ngalangka Nola Taylor: One lady at Parnngurr made jam out of it, taste nice.
MRW: Melon. Piki melon we call it. Big and round like watermelon, in Warnman Country. Sweet Melon. And they met up with Warnman people and Nancy Taylor’s father and Minyau’s Dad, and Minyau’s Dad had two wives, all Warnman people.
So they left with Rosie’s mum and Beatrice’s grandmother and other two wives, [their husband went away on law business]. And five little kids and the others stayed behind. They waited [to see] if they were coming back. And so they walked around with their mothers. They used to walk and go off, and drinking from rockhole and lake. River used to be full with water. And when after rain season, when seed fall and get feed, collecting seed from trees, they grow around side of the river. And when they used to have it they used to roast it on hot coals and grind it to make it into a paste and eat it like that. Kalara [seed] yinta [waterhole] Country. Jamal seed and lungurr seed.
They stayed and they seen a man with camel. Their Dad and Karen’s husband’s father, they passed where they were – they were around the corner – Kalkun Kalkun area – west of there – then they went east, close to south west of Talbot soak. They had one whitefella with them with a camel. Rosie’s father was with him, they were looking for Rosie’s family. Kids were playing and they turned around and seen this big, they didn’t see the camel but they seen the track, and the KD’s [Karen’s] husband’s dad asked Rosie’s father to look for the kids [after he’d been away on law business]. The kids were playing, and Rosie’s father went looking for them, and as he came closer the kids heard him crying, coming towards them, crying. He had seen the tracks of his kids and he started crying. They looked around, they seen a man coming crying, coming closer, and the kids ran up the hill. The four mothers got up and saw him coming and realized it was their husband and they called his name. So he met up with four old lady and they all followed the kids up the hill and said, ‘Come back, come back, it’s your father!’ He was crying for them because he missed them. He went away before seed was falling and came back in seed season.
Four mothers and three grandmother and the husband for those mothers were there. My dad came back. He took the kids and the wives back to the place where the camels were. And they went and sat under the shade. While KD’s father in law was preparing a meal for their families, and he called out, ‘Come! Dinner’s ready.’ They came close and they were lining up naked one. KD’s father in law and Rosie’s dad were wearing clothes, travelling with walypala [white person], he was a missionary from Jigalong, Mr Lamb. KD’s father in law left the camel killer, kuka [meat they’d killed] for them. Other lot of family, Booth family, they went off with that walypala and showed that camel man where all the waterholes were. So, and our family was left behind, father, daughter and all the kids. They used to go back and forward along the Karlamilyi river, they were with other mob families – a lot of people – and their Dad wandered off, business time with Jakayu’s family. They went east all the way up the Wikirri for business.
Rosie’s mummy and another of her mothers stayed with Nancy Chapman and Minyau family, and they still had their grandmother with them. Dulcie and other kids, Baker mob, went off with her Dad. Rosie went off with Beatrice grandmother, with other two sisters. After that they stayed around, Rosie mob, and they went up again, east to where they started, Mukurtu. They went right up to Mukurtu but other mob came back to Jantinti, but Rosie mob was slowly coming down. They seen the smoke and they met up with them right in Jantinti. Together they went east towards Karlamilyi, starting again. When they went to Karlamilyi from there, Dulcies’s father and mother, they took Dulcie back kakarra [east], they were looking around for two sons. He was just looking for them trying to find them. They went with other families. But they left to collect seeds, Rosie mob, and their mother and Baker’s mum, and Beatrice Nana and one more, Mrs. Watson. Wakunya. They were all collecting seed, lungkurr and jamal. Next day when they got up early in the morning they heard Dulcie’s Mum crying and Dulcie, after they lost their Dad – they’d come back to their families after losing their husband. So they all got up crying and she came back to find her families, Dulcie’s mother. They stayed, and others start to travel, all the families, Rosie’s and others. Two grandmothers and two mummies. They went all separate [ways], Rosie’s mum took the six kids west to Wintamarra Bore [near the Talawana track on the way to Jigalong]. Four adults and six kids. They found a spring there and never moved for many years until they went to Jigalong. And they lost their two grandmothers west of Wintamarra Bore. After losing their grandmother they went back to the water place, used to be a soak and they used to hunt kangaroo with dingo, and those old two mothers/ladies used to use the spear. And mostly dog used to hunt and old lady used to get [the] kangaroo off [the] dogs – and break it up as soon as they hear dog barking. They used to waste meat, they couldn’t eat it all. Kangaroo and emu in the summertime, and the kangaroo and emu used to come in night and morning.
When the dogs went off in mating season they followed them because they couldn’t get kangaroo and emu without jarntu (dingoes). They kept on walking north towards Telfer area, past Karlamilyi, Wulpulpu. They kept on walking north to Warkulajarra. And they were getting homesick so they travelled back South to Wulpulpu [Dog Pool]. So they stayed and they met up with Nancy Taylor again. From there they went south again to Jintinmarra rockhole, yinta [spring], big one. So from there they start walking kayili (north) back to Wulpulpu, east to Yantikuji. They had to take Nancy back because husband used to be cheeky, angry one [Desmond Taylor’s Dad]. So they camped the night and next day families split up again and they went north, Nancy mob. Rosie mob went south, they camped in the middle [of those countries named above]. One mother and three sisters, Rosie and Beatrice’s mother [Rita] went another way by herself. Rosie, she went west with her mother and Phyllis and Rena. Right up to Wuruwurunya.
Beatrice mother went looking for lungki [witchetty grub], climbed up a tree, wakarnu [her calf] got scraped, deep cut. Another mob made a fire, five [people], three walking and two on horses. People was coming, they seen the smoke, they were looking for them, coming from Jigalong – they were looking for Rosie mob. They saw the smoke – Rosie mob had sent the signal in the night – so the five Martu from Jigalong, family, came looking for them. They went round, two horses round the back to stop them from running off frightened. But the other three went walking toward camp straight. But they just got up looking for lungki, Rosie and Phyllis, other two little girl sick, they went up to Nyunpa, burnt area, and Rosie had a funny feeling, got hold of little sister and said, ‘Get up!’ They thought it was a camel but it was a man on a horse. Never seen a horse before, they thought it was a camel.
Rosie grabbed hold of Phyllis and ran away to hide under a bush. And man on horse blocked them before they could run into the bush, and they ran, holding her sister running, and they turned back running other way, and when they were running they saw another man on a horse again, and Rosie said to her sister, ‘I think they got the other sisters!’ And sure enough she seen two little kids and a mum on the front of the horse. They were all frightened. Her mum was asleep back at the camp, she had little one, Rena, and she didn’t know what was going on. They ran and joined up with other two sisters. When she was back at the camp with her mum and seen, little sister Rena, seen horse, and she ran and jumped on her mum and didn’t say a word. She was shocked, [the ladies all laughed here, because Rena got such a fright that when she jumped on her mum she virtually winded her, and was speechless with terror], and mummy said, ‘What you seen?’ And mummy woke up and seen her sister coming, and children and sisters start saying, ‘This is our families. The men on yawarta (horses) they came to take us’.
So they camped the night and waited for Beatrice mother to come. Beatrice nanna went back to Wintamarra looking for Beatrice mother and she saw her with her sore leg. She piggy-back Beatrice mother [mother piggy-backing daughter], she was a big girl. They went front and waited at Wartatanya, waiting there for the other two to catch them up, Beatrice mother and grandmother. They got up in the morning and made a fire, winter time, standing up next to fire – she was looking and she saw them coming, carrying her in the back, big one. They slept the night and next day they went west Marlumalanya rock hole – big one. People used to fish in it. They stayed the night and rested. So next day they got up, Beatrice mother jumped on top of the horse because she had sore leg, with one of the mother. They left afternoon and camped sand dune. Next day they started walking north of Talawana. There was a windmill where they camped. She was walking behind with little sister and when they got close to windmill there was a billycan hanging off tree but they went past it straight to the bullock trough. But the billycan water was left for them but they went past.
Beatrice father asked them [he was on the horse], ‘where did you get the water from?’ They said this one – trough – we drank the water from the horse piti [water coolamon]! But it was bullock trough. And he turned around and said I left the water [in the billy] here for you to drink – that’s the trough for the cattle. They camped the night there, next day they start travelling again and then they got to Talyiwana [Talawana] track – used to be station. They left the family there and the two old chaps walked to the homestead and told the kartiya [white person] there. Six kids and two mother were there. They stayed in Talyiwana and kartiya went and got clothes and blanket for them. There was some people working on the station – family. They walked up to the station and got clothes and blanket. They put their clothes on and left everything they had with them there and that old girl Winta gave them apple, orange, and fruit. When they got those fruit, especially orange – they bit the orange skin and it burned them and they thought it was something else and they dig a hole and buried it. So they started from the station and walked south of 61, there was another well. Next day they travelled to another, right in the middle, and met up with Tinker family and Yupinya’s [Eubena Nampitjin’s] brother and that old man started crying and they said to themselves – who’s that man crying? Next day they camped and another day they went to Watch Point Rockhole just north of Jigalong. And next day they got to Jigalong. When they got to Jigalong they saw so many people crying and coming up to them they were huddled up in the middle, really frightened and they thought, ‘Who are those people?’ (they thought it was a mamu [devil]). They were a tight squeeze in the middle and it was their families they were frightened of. Desert families. It was a chicken wire with barbed wire and they couldn’t get in [at watch point] Rabbit Proof Fence – they were trying to go through so their old auntie Jikak showed them, ‘Go through here,’ and she pushed down the fence so they could go in. And they all arrived in Jigalong.
NNT: Sad story, when they got there couple of days later, Beatrice Nana passed away. She left three little kids and Rosie’s mum raised them up.
[Field notes taken]
Lowu Lowu [sic]: close to Nyarruri, Well 32
Yartutuma - Rosie’s family used to keep women and kids away from CSR. Frightened of walypala [whitefella] for taking women and kids. Only men used to go to CSR for kuka [meat].
Rosie’s dad had four wives. Wintuny [one of the wives, came] from Kunawarritji. Mummy from Lake Percival .
Brothers and sisters: Baker, Bert Lane, sister finish [passed away] only Baker and brother left. Dulcie, Muni [Rita- recently deceased], oldest brother finish, Phyllis, Serena, Karen, Rosie all had one father.
Another father, Rosie’s father’s brother, he robbed Wintuny to keep as one of his wives.
Beatrice’s grandmother (Rita’s mother)
Father’s Country: From Kunawarritji, Kinyu, Nyipil, Pangkapini
Mummy’s Country: Kurtararra – Percival Lakes.
Juwaliny side – Beatrice grandmother, Rosie’s mother
Other two wives - Manyjilyjarra.
Rosie’s family used to travel around Mukurtu – east and west of Lake Auld – Western side of CSR + Lake George.
Rights: Cultural Owner & Storyteller: Mantararr Rosie Williams; © 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.