Every hill got a story
Chapters 1 - 6

'They wanted us to move out of here and live somewhere where nobody could see us. We don't want to move.'

Geoff Shaw

The Story of Geoff Shaw

"My grandmother's father was an Arrernte man from just east of Alice Springs. The Kaytetye connection comes from my grandfather, an old traditional man from Barrow Creek. My father was a Stolen Generation man, he was brought down to the Bungalow. Mum was born up in Barrow Creek. I was born here in Alice Springs."

Geoff lives at Mount Nancy town camp. He did tours of duty in Vietnam, Borneo and Malaya, and received the Order of Australia for his services to Aboriginal communities. He has worked for, led and helped to set up many Alice Springs Aboriginal organisations and was the first ATSIC Commissioner for Central Australia.

He served as general manager and president of Tangentyere Council, twice as the Central Land Council's deputy chair and represented the CLC on the Aboriginals Benefit Account Advisory Committee.

"I was on the Legal Aid executive too and Congress executive. I was president of Congress twice."

A man with two donkeys at Haasts Bluff, NT c. 1950s. (Image: Lutheran Archives, Collection P0352207213)


'If there was sorry business at Willowra or Anningie or Ti Tree, they used to send someone from there, to let people [living elsewhere] know, and those people used to travel back with him, just talking. They used to get the kids together and start travelling.'

Violet Nampijinpa Downs

The Story of Violet Nampijinpa Downs

"I was born at Ti Tree Station in 1962. My mother is from Jarrajarra. My father was from the Anningie, Walapanpa area – that's part of our land. As a child I helped my parents and grandparents in the tin mine there.

"Later I attended school at Willowra. As
 an adult I studied teacher education at Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education and worked as a teacher-linguist at Willowra School. I have had a few jobs, including interpreting for the courts and hospital in Alice Springs and Alekarenge.
"I used to be the Meals On Wheels supervisor at Willowra.

"I am literate in Warlpiri and English and enjoy writing Christian songs in both languages.

"I like to paint and a couple of my designs have been used in a book and on cards. My favourite thing to do is to take my grandchildren hunting and teach them skills I learnt growing up. I now live at Alekarenge."

'Crocodile, kill him crocodile. Sometime he sink down, come out another place might be.'
- Peanut Pontiari

(Image: AAP)

The Story of Peanut Pontiari

"I been brought up on the Victoria River country. My people is Bilinarra [north of Gurindji country], my father, my grandfather, all that. I am Bilinarra too. Big country, you can't get through with a vehicle, horse, nothing – rock country, spring country, river.

"Father and mother, grandfather, father's father, mother, grandmother, they all gone now, they finished. But we still remember everything, we remember our law, way our mum and dad been brought us up, feeding us, all that. Feed for that desert mob, [their] tucker, I don't know that, but I know river country. We living together now, us mob and desert mob, Wave Hill Station, eating the same."

Aboriginal housing at Santa Teresa Mission south of Alice Springs, Northern Territory, 1966. (Image: Jeff Carter / National Library of Australia)


'The people from the mission used to hear us singing, and the old ladies singing.'

Margaret Kemarre Turner

The Story of Margaret Kemarre Turner

"I was born at Spotted Tiger, where the mine was. All the Reid family and all my dad's and my mother's fathers, and my old grannies used to live there.

"When I lived at Arltunga – I was about thirteen or twelve – we used to take the nanny goats around. We went to school there, but we used to only go for the morning. We used to have a lot of work to do. We used to go to church. We really liked singing hymns."

Margaret Kemarre Turner has lived in Alice Springs for many years. She was awarded an Order of Australia in 1997 'for service to the Aboriginal community of Central Australia, particularly through preserving language and culture, and interpreting'.

Joe James Japanangka. (Image: CLC Collection)


'We didn't decide to go to the station, government bin decide for us.'

Joe James Japanangka

The Story of Joe James Japanangka

"My name is Joe James Japanangka, I live langa Lajamanu all the time. I came in here in 1952 when I was a boy. I became man here and I grew up here."

Japanangka worked on stations in the north-west region of the Northern Territory since he was a teenager.

"But that time with no freedom, nothing. It was very, very hard. Tell us what to do. Not talking back to kartiya, no, nothing".

Aboriginal women and children at Henbury Station, NT, 1939. (Image: State Library South Australia)


'We were station-bred children.'

Doug Abbott

The Story of Doug Abbott

"We were station-bred children. My mother and father used to work from one place to another like Idracowra, Henbury, Renner's Rock, Waite River, Mount Doreen, those sort of places, and I worked there at different times."

Doug went to school in Alice Springs and then worked on stations – training as a mechanic and doing stock work. He was employed by the railways and the town council in Alice Springs, and later worked as a development officer for Tangentyere Council.

He was a co-founder, with his wife and others, of the Central Australian Aboriginal Alcohol Programmes Unit.