Name: Clifford Brooks
Clifford Brooks - Brief life history [ORAL HISTORY]
Synopsis: Clifford Brooks gives a brief life history.
Language spoken: English
Catalogue number: CSROH_06_Clifford_Brooks
Interviewed By: John Carty
Transcribed By: Monique La Fontaine
Recorded by: John Carty
Location Recorded: Durba Springs
Cultural Protocols: Public Access - Restrictions on Use
Full transcript: Clifford Brooks: Yuwo [Yes ready]! My name is Clifford Brooks. I come from Jigalong. Yeah, I been born there in the mission, old hospital. Yeah. I been go to school there, primary school … and … I don’t know [XX - if ?] primary school, I always run away from school, go bush. Yeah. But I been grow up with my older sister on a station, [XX]. Where it’s not far, west of Newman, Prairie Downs Station. And only time I go back there is when they have a work break, that’s all. And I’ve been grow up with my brother-in-law and my sister. But when I go back to mission I’ll be stay with my parents. I only go to school there when I go there, you know.
But every time they go out weekend they camp out in bush, in the rockholes. I go to school right up till Friday afternoon then I take off, Saturday morning. I take off, get all our bit a ration, like potato, onion, apple, orange, maybe one chop, that’s all. Then we take off. We go out with the family camping in the rockhole, out bush. We walk all the way, maybe get there to camp, that’s maybe sunset, stay there till Sunday, go back school. Camp there, go school next day, maybe Monday.
I been there right up till primary school, then we been shift to Strelley. They been taken away, Strelley, what they call ‘em, them nomad people. From there I been run away, go to Hedland. I been go to Hedland Senior High School then. I been doin schoolin’ there for two years. Moorgunyah Hostel I been stay. From there I went to Jiglaong, went back on a plane and never went back to school. I just took off to station. Yeah. And then, a bloke, I was … oh, my teacher, oh he told me, ‘Oh, them mob from Jigalong, never came back to school, they got no future’. You know, they tell us. Yeah, ‘they got no future’.
John Carty: Who said that?
CB: My teacher. From senior high school, he been tell me that, and when he came up to Jigalong one time, he saw me as the Chairperson there! And he says, “Whoa!” I made him to see: Look, we running this community ourself. Yeah. He said, ‘Well, ah well, good on you now’. He was with the, whats-a-name, sport and recs up at there, Perth there somewhere. He was one of the scout go round gettin’ footy players. Took players, for the ah, whats-a-name, oh what they call em? AFL or what that club, Junior League.
But I been the Chairperson there in Jigalong there for nearly two years. Back in the ‘90s. I been working there as a builder. For everything I been work there. I been nearly a project officer. Assistant project officer. We went out to build a out-station in the, back in 1986, ’85. Went out for, Seaman Inquiry was on back in ‘86. I think ‘85, ‘86. That’s when we went out to build that community at Parnngurr. I put a windmill there for them, ah windmill, a tank there for them and a shed. Before they moved out, people moved out there, lived there. Now it’s a big community. And the community, there’s a couple of communities that, outstations that they built, [wind in microphone] I lived in [XX]. Robertson Range, one of them communities. One of them is Puntawarri outstation, ‘nother one [XX - Muka?] outstation, we built it at Jigalong there. The people are really happy with their new houses there. Well, that’s the life where I been working and working all the time. We all went to station. Mainly I been working the station back in ‘83, ‘84. Yalleen Station. I been the cattle man there, catching wild bulls.
Well, then we had to move to Balfour Down Station. I been work for a boss there, he paid real good money. I was only young fella. Yeah, by myself. I had no offsider me.
JC: What kind of work were you doing?
CB: I was doing cattle mustering, yeah. Checking fencing, checking windmill.
JC: You on horseback or …?
CB: I had a Toyota and a motorbike. Well, we had horseback sometime, we had, know how to ride a horse. We need to drive some cattle, not through, from stockyard to another windmill, you know. ‘Cause the windmill break down, we move ‘em, move all the cattle, to the windmill where there’s a water or else they might perish, you know. ‘Cause they had a time to fix the windmill up, get all the parts from Perth, with the windmill. So, we went to thing. But the cattle, we drive ‘em up there but they still come back to windmill because they know that area there. So, we gotta get the windmill going for them. Yeah, well that’s where I been grow up there, Jigalong. That where I been taught everything there, through business and all Law business and everything else. That’s why they put me through.
JC: You mean through Jigalong?
CB: Yuwo [yes].
Rights: Cultural Owner & Storyteller: Clifford Brooks; © 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.