It’s time to share some stories of more Denizens of the Deep North, beginning with one of the most outstanding people I have been privileged to know since I first went to work at Maningrida in Central Arnhem Land in 1972. His name is Victor Rostron and he’s a senior ranger with the indigenous Djelk Rangers at Maningrida. He’s a singer/songwriter, a crack shot, a superb bushman, a “professor” of traditional knowledge of land and culture, a community leader and a role model to young (and older) folk in Central Arnhem Land. And he’s a gentle and humble family guy. I’ll allow him to introduce himself in words taken from a Facebook post he made this morning. That’s Victor a few months ago in the top picture and below that is Victor aged about 10 with his mum, Mary. Mary’s holding a superb dilly bag she made and Victor holds a little dancing belt she made for him from emu feathers and cotton fabric. They’re pictured inside their traditional house at Birba, about 90km inland from Maningrida. Victor writes: “Hello, my real name is Victor Rhunu Rostron. I was born at the top of the Cadell River at a place called Djanmard, in Wurrbarn clan country. My mother wrapped me in a paperbark blanket when I was born. My Grandfather and Grandmother, they were everything for me when I was growing up. I’m happy to share my story with all my Facebook friends. Back in 1968 my father travelled to Maningrida, maybe from India…but I never met my father, he didn’t stay around, and I grew up without him. It’s really painful to think about now. I look and see my kids and I don’t want my kids struggling hard without me there. I went through growing up in the bush with no school but I want my son and daughter to see the world clear with a school education for their future. It’s really good seeing my kids learning both sides — balanda (non indigenous) and bininj (indigenous) culture. Going back to my story— I was really proud of my grandparents. When I was older I went to Maningrida school a little, but my grandparents taught me about living in the bush with bush tucker and animals and the importance of corroboree, like I saw my uncle mob playing and singing mimi (rock spirit) songline back in 1979 (when the photo was taken of Victor and his dancing belt). After that I started learning to play the guitar and singing gospel song. But most important I hear my grandparents voice saying ‘no stealing, no breaking in, no back talking, no jealousy, no fighting, respect old people’ — that’s what I learned. … This Maningrida Dukurrdji (clan) country is true paradise where the Djomi Dreaming (baby spirit) site is. I’m happy with the ranger program that I’m working with and I’m happy to see my kids growing in the right direction. I want to say thank you to Bawinanga Aboriginal Corporation, youth centre, Maningrida school and Djelk rangers. Big thank you from Victor Rhunu Rostron”. Expect more stories from Victor’s adventurous life in future blogs.
Thanks to Tim Lee and ABC Landline crew for the great job they did helping Warddeken get the story of the crisis in rock art conservation out to the public. And well done Jesse and Catherine who were great on camera. Follow link on my earlier post to watch the whole story online.
Helen Davidson writes in the Guardian from Cardwell in Queensland:
“Girringun: the trailblazing indigenous corporation caring for 1.2m hectares of North Queensland.
“The mammoth task of protecting a huge area of land and sea, as well as fighting to keep local languages and traditions alive is all in a days work for Girringun’s extraordinary rangers”