The Williams Family

by Clive Wiliams from Reference 6

For most people the history of the Aboriginal people stopped with the coming of the White Man. What happened to the Aborigines after that date has been hidden in the pages of White Man's history. Wholesale destruction of Aboriginal life followed. Some Aborigines. however. have kept alive the history of their own family since the coming of the Whites.

 Mr and Mrs Walter Williams parents of Clive
Mr and Mrs Walter Williams parents of Clive
 Walter Williams and his sons
Walter Williams and his sons
 Clive Williams Aboriginal Community Education Co-ordinator
Clive Williams Aboriginal Community Education Co-ordinator

In this issue we are telling the story of the Williams family of Casino . Hopefully other Aborigines will come forward with their stories and photographs. The accompanying photo shows Walter Williams with his two sons. Clive (on the right) and Peter (on the left). Walter Williams was a black tracker attached to the Casino Police. He was the last black tracker at Casino, and was employed between the years 1920 and 1930, the year in which he died.

Tho black tracker employed by the Police before Walter took the job was Denny Joseph, grandfather of Clive end Peter.

Welter was the eldest child in the first marriage of Lann Williams who was a stockman at Bonalbo Station. They lived in a camp at the foot of Haystack Mountain, Old Bonalbo. Walter at first worked as a bush worker and horse breaker - chiefly for the Police Force. On one occasion he took a mob of 200 horses to Tabulam and broke them all into the saddle.

As far as his son can remember his father's wages were five pound ($10) a fortnight. His major work as a tracker was finding people Who were lost in the bush and trailing herds of cattle which were either stolen or lost. But his main work was breaking horses.

Walter 'Williams and family lived in a hut in the vicinity of the Falls, just below the township of Casino. Clive and his brothers attended Casino Public School while his two sisters attended the Convent. He experienced no racial problems whatsoever at school. Occasionally a new-comer to the school might refer to the colour of their skin but playground justice from the white children soon prevailed. After school they played with white children mainly the Police Sergeant's children. The Sergeant's name was Sgt. Wren.

The death of Clive's father about 1930 caused Clive to leave school. He found employment with his grandfather Lann working at horse-breaking and cattle-droving and other bush work. At this period of his life Clive would have been initiated but their ceremonies were no longer practiced in this area.

Grandfather Williams passed on his knowledge of bushcraft, bush secrets, Aboriginal lore and language. The old man was an expert at climbing trees for honey and possums -using only a tomahawk to cut toe holds.

After a few short years of bush work. Clive got the wanderlust and for the next few years he followed his own pursuits in bush work, fencing, splitting posts, ringbarking and timber falling.

About 1940 Clive married a Coraki girl. Ida Drew, and found work in the Shire. He then joined the railways as a fettler and worked at Burren Junction and Narrabri areas. It was at Collarenebri where he was Assistant Ganger that he encountered racial prejudice. His wife was expecting the fifth child and so Clive contacted the Doctor by phone. When they arrived at the surgery he was told that Aborigines were only treated at the hospital. He immediately applied for a transfer to Grafton area where this prejudice did not exist.

He left the Railway and returned to the Shire work at Coraki and later worked again at bush work at Woodenbong and Bonalbo area. Joining the Main Roads Dept. in Sydney he was stationed in the Gladesville area where he worked for many years in a bridge gang. Meanwhile, in Sydney Clive continued to work for his people. He worked with Allen Duncan from Sydney University on aspects of Aboriginal life. Out of this came the A.B.C. documentary award winning family. "One Man's Road".

Clive, at the age of 63, retired from the Main Roads Dept. and accepted a job as Co-ordinator of Aboriginal Community Education with the Northern Rivers College of Advanced Education.

This is an achievement and a story of a struggle of a family to establish its identity between two cultures - the western way of life and that which remained of Aboriginal life.

Clive can relate hair-raising experiences of the days of the old Aboriginal Protection Board. Although he had never lived on a settlement and has never felt the degradation of that control he has seen it with friends and relatives.