Mrs. Florence Caldwell, Executive Member of A.P.A.
I was born on Horwood Island, on the Clarence River, but was reared on an adjacent island called Ulgundahi, a reserve. Our schooling was cqnducted by Mr. Howard, who was also the manager. As he was not a qualified teacher, I did not have a very good education. We spent more time at the swimming pool than in class.
As a child, I loved reading, and though books were hard to come by, we did manage to have magazines - the new school magazines were something I looked forward to eagerly every month. My first book - Pollyanna - was a present from my employer when, in my teens, I came to Sydney and got a live-in job. My mother belonged to the Eagurie tribe, the Clarence River Aborigines, and always spoke to us in her own language. One of my happiest memories, as a child, was of my mother, in her soft gentle voice, telling us the tribal legends of her people. My two favourites were: 'How the Clarence River Started' and 'How the Curlew got his Mournful Cry'.
I came from a large family and had a very happy childhood. We lived in beautiful surroundings and, while there were no luxuries, we managed to have sufficient to eat. The men worked as cane cutters and labourers, and helped the fishermen haul the nets, in return for fish; honeygathering was a pleasant and profitable pastime. Unfortunately, nature was kinder to us than the white people in Maclean were-discrimination was very strong, i.e, roped off at the picture show, entrance through the dark side door, nasty remarks in the street as we passed.Recently I attended a conference at Canberra for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders, and was pleased that their policy is for calling on the Education Department and the Government to assist in the teaching and encouragement of Aboriginal languages and the disseminating of the legends. We should be proud of our ancestors and the culture and way of life that they had.
My father belonged to the Bungalung tribe and spoke to us in the Bungalung language. I think we should learn both the white man's skills and our own culture. I am now a member of A.P .A., an organisation that has an all-Aboriginal executive, with a policy of returning some of the land to the Aboriginal people. This is not some fantastic idea-other countries have given their indigenous people land and compensation
It is seventeen years since I left the Island and came to live here in Sydney. I have never regretted it-Sydney is a warm, friendly city - it's folks are warm-hearted. I've often walked along the street and complete strangers have given me a friendly smile. Yes, I like Sydney - it's a warm, friendly cities
By FLORENCE CALDWELL, 280a Little Oxford Street, Darlinghurst, Sydney. Published in CHURINGA, February-March, 1967