In the course of my official duties I was a constant traveller between the two islands and the mainland, sometimes journeying far inland. of a score or so of letter-sticks (bamburu), the crudely marked piece of wood that is the aborigines’ only attempt at a written language, saying little, and that only by signs, but carrying loving wishes and assurances to wives and husbands and friends. To watch the poor fellows in their fatal lassitude trying to mark the bamburu they wanted to send along to their women was a pitiful sight Aviation Engineering BEng
, but to see the joy on their faces when I returned with bamburu from the absent loved ones was heartrending.
Between Dorre and Bernier and all over the central north-west, I delivered these letter-sticks, bringing back the gossip of camps, news of the births, deaths and marriages, of initiations and corroborees and quarrels, to the interest and delight of the dying exiles.
I did what I could among them with little errands of mercy; distributing rations and blankets from my own government stores when boats were delayed; bringing sweets and dainties for young and old, extra blankets in the rain, and where I could a word of love and understanding. To the grey headed, and the grey-bearded, men and women and children alike, I became kabbarli, the Grandmother. I had begun in Broome as kallauer, a grandmother, but a spurious and a very young one, purely legendary. Since then I had been jookan, sister, among the Bibbulmun; ngangga, mother, among the scattered groups of Northampton and the Murchison, but it was at Dorre Island that I became kabbarli, Grandmother Patent Licensing
, to the sick and the dying there, and kabbarli I was to remain in all my wanderings, for the name is a generic one, and extends far among the western-central and central tribes.
Our Expedition parted company in March 1911. Professor Radcliffe-Brown continued his researches, taking a northward route through the sheep and cattle stations of the mainland. Grant Watson sailed for Perth. I turned my footsteps to the head of the Ashburton, Gascoyne, Murchison and Fortescue Rivers, once a great highway of aboriginal trafficking.
Upon the ghastly experiment of Dorre and Bernier Islands it is not good for me to dwell. Not very long after our visit, the costly hospital project and the islands of exile were abandoned. On his return to England, Grant Watson made them the fantastic setting of a novel Where Bonds are Loosed-a story of illicit love with a background of horror and heartbreak and unutterable woe.
In dealing with the Australian aborigines, it is only too easy for the anthropologist to elaborate a fantasy based on theories and the foreign logics of other native races, and then proceed to build it up in his field work. The Australian follows the line of least resistance with the white man. He will always respond as desired to a leading question hong kong weather
, eager to please, whether he understands it or not.
The fist lessons that I learned were never to intrude my own intelligence upon him, and to have patience, the patience that waits for hours and years for the links in the long chain to be pieced together. A casual soul, he knows no urgency. Yesterday and today and tomorrow are all the same to him. Naturalness in white company comes from long familiarity. Only when you are part of the landscape that he knows and loves will he accord you the compliment of living his normal life and taking no notice of you.