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Love Thy Neighbour

Updated on March 17, 2017
Gwenneth Leane profile image

Gwen has written numerous short pieces of fiction with various themes. She enjoys writing short stories because they are slices of life

Love Thy Neighbour


The European settlement had a huge devastating impact on Australia’s indigenous Australians. They were exposed to new diseases and violent conflict resulting in a very vast number of deaths. Even the small percentage of aboriginals that weren’t killed were still affected and so were their future generations forever and ever. When the first European migrants arrived in January 1788 it was said that their were at least 750 000 Aboriginal people living in Australia at the time of the colonization. Most of these people were split up into more than 600 different tribal groups with hundreds of different languages. It was said that the people first moved to Australia more than 50 000 years ago. The aboriginal people developed their own way of life true to their spiritual beliefs of the Dream-time.

When the settlers came the colonial government sold and leased land to the white settlers completely ignoring the deep spiritual connections the Aboriginal people had with the land. They believed that the aborigines would be happy to have new land because of the nature of the indigenous lifestyle. The aboriginals were unhappy with the dispossession of their land so violent clashes began leading to many deaths; to try and keep the land they settled on first. Violent conflicts happened because of cultural misunderstandings over land and fear and curiosity over the white settlers also. The war between both cultures became desperate and brutal as both felt like they were fighting for their survival. Many also died of malnourishment and all the fighting went on for generations until they were all forced into the cities and forced to live in the outskirts or public housing.

Early Type Shelters of Aboriginal People.


Map of Tribal areas of Aboriginal Australia

Childhood a Time of Innocence

Childhood is a time of innocence. There is no awareness of being different, only the joy of surrounded by a loving family. Childhood is falling asleep beside the soft warm body of a mother, a campfire burning in the doorway of a bow shelter and a full stomach.

Innoccence: A Short Story

Campfires flared at the edge of a waterhole at the base of high red cliffs. Women sat in groups and talked, children raced every which way. The men were away hunting. A woman sat watching her children play in the water.

Suddenly, strange men were running, grabbing young women and girls. Old women screamed and tried to save their young only to be clubbed down, pandemonium raged.

Mama, my sisters and I hid in a cave back in the hills from the water hole. An old man found us. We had to walk for days, surrounded by men.

The old man, his black eyes malevolent, watched Mama. One night, ‘You, my woman now,’ he said. ‘You cook for me. You sleep with me.’ He looked at us, ‘they yella kids, must go, no mixed blood in tribe. ’

Laws to Avoid Inbreeding

Many indigenous communities also have a very complex kinship structure and in some places strict rules about marriage. In traditional societies, men are required to marry women of a specific moiety. The system is still alive in many Central Australian communities. To enable men and women to find suitable partners, many groups would come together for annual gatherings (commonly known as corroborees at which goods were traded, news exchanged, and marriages arranged amid appropriate ceremonies. This practice both reinforced clan relationships and prevented inbreeding in a society based on small semi-nomadic groups.

The Cleansing Begins

‘No! Please!’ Mama pleaded. ‘My children, let them live. I’ll work hard I’ll be a good wife.’

Frightened, we ran to hide behind Mama; she folded us to her body wanting to shield us.

‘Why must we go?’ older sister asked.

‘You are different. You have golden skins. Your father was white. We loved each other.’ Mama tried to explain.

How could we understand how different, we who were the beloved of our parents?

When we reached the old man's homeland, Mama was given the job of herding a flock of goats all day out in the desert bringing them home at night into a yard.

One morning ‘Here, girl.’ Stepfather said to our elder sister, his spears and boomerang in hand.

‘What you want, stepfather?’ She tried to make stepfather like her and did his bidding.

‘You come with me. I hunt food. You carry kangaroo.’

The naked old man and our sister of twelve years walked into the mulga scrub and were lost from sight.

Mama worried and walked around the camp all day. She did not take the goats out to feed and water that day.

At sunset stepfather returned alone, a kangaroo draped over his shoulder.

A Log Cabin Type Structure known as a Fringe Dwelling

The Cleansing Continues

‘Where’s my girl?’ She screamed, her dark eyes pinned her captor. He looked away from her piercing eyes.

‘She run in front of my spear when I throw to kill a kangaroo.’ He threw the animal on the fire, now a bed of red-hot coals.

‘You kill her?’ Mama was demented with grief.

We didn’t know our mother in her grief and anger and our sister was missing.

We clung to each other.

‘She’s lying in the big tree on top of the pinnacle.’ Stepfather ignored her accusation. His jet eyes held a glint of triumph.

Mama ran out into the night. We stole after her. She lifted her daughter’s body from the tree placing it in the cave and sang the songs of her daughter’s dreaming over it. She piled stones over the mouth to keep out wild dogs.

She mourned as wild things do their dead. We crept up to her and put our arms around her, we could feel her heart beating like an injured bird as she clutched us to her for safety. How could we understand the colour bar and broken Law? What was so wrong in being yella that we must die?

Mount Woodroofe, the highest mountain in South Australia


'You Can't Save Her

‘You come with me today,’ she told us next morning.

‘Why Mama?’ I protested.

‘Don’t argue. You carry water for goats.’

Turning to the older girl, Mama said, ‘Bring the coolamons. We need to get seeds to grind for flour.’

‘But mother, it’s too hot.’

‘You come with me.’ Mama looked at us with big hungry eyes that almost filled her face. We were silenced and obeyed.

At dawn, Mama called us awake. ‘Where is your sister?’ She asked me as I rubbed sleep from my eyes and stood by the fire to get warm.

Mama swung around on the old man, her face ugly with grief and hate.

‘Where is she?’

He boldly returned her stare, his black eyes buried under a canopy of heavy brows.

‘The pinnacle,’

‘You must stay with Auntie today,’ she turned on me. ‘I’ll take you there, now. Come!’ I shrank from Mama. Her look was wild, full of agony and fear.

I was afraid.

‘Don’t let her from your sight, Auntie.’

‘You can’t save her. She is different.’

Mama came, picked me up in her arms, and cuddled me. That night we slept locked together, tightly in Mama’s arms.

Musgrave Ranges in the remote north of South Australia


The Arrival of Indigenous People to Australia

There are no clear tribes or an accepted origin of the indigenous people of Australia, although they are believed to be among the earliest human migrations out of Africa. Although they likely migrated to Australia through Southeast Asia they are not demonstrably related to any known Asian or Polynesian population. There is evidence of genetic and linguistic interchange between Australians in the far north and the Austronesian peoples of modern-day New Guinea and the islands, but this may be the result of recent trade and intermarriage.[1]

It is believed that the first human migration to Australia was achieved when this landmass formed part of the Sahul continent, connected to the island of New Guinea via a land bridge. It is also possible that people came by boat across the Timor Sea. The exact timing of the arrival of the ancestors of the Aboriginal Australians has been a matter of dispute among archaeologists. The most generally accepted date for first arrival is between 40 000–80 000 years BP

Traditional Homeland, Tupu Amata South Australia


The Set Up (The Story Continues)

‘Tomorrow, we go to Mulga Creek.’ The old man sat staring into the fire that night. There were only seed cakes and quandongs to eat for the evening meal. No goanna or kangaroo sizzled on the fire. ‘We’ll go through the painted hills.’

‘But that is where Men’s Business is being held.’ Mama protested. ‘I cannot be near the place.’ Mama shivered and began to keen. Mama saw our death and began singing to our dreaming.

‘Enough!’ The old man yelled. His onyx black eyes sparked with anger. His mouth curled cruelly.

At dawn, we set out, carrying our belongings in string bags.

Mama called to me, ‘you stay near me.’

‘Why Mama?’

‘Stepfather is taking us past the Men’s Business. Woman and girls must not see what they are doing. It’s a secret thing they do.’

‘Yes, Mama, I’ll follow you.’

But I forgot her warning and raced ahead with the joy of all young wild things. Through the trees came the sound of chanting. I was curious and watched hidden amongst bushes. Men and teenage boys were dancing, their naked bodies painted.

‘Mama, there’s men over there dancing.’ Excited, I raced to Mama’s side.

‘Ooooh,’ Mama groaned, her face screwed up in terror. ‘Did you look?

‘Yes, I looked.’ I hung my head. Too late, I remembered Mama’s warning.

‘Stay with me,’ Mama caught my arm and pulled me roughly to her side. ‘Don’t tell Stepfather.’

The Final Cleansing

At Mulga Creek, the tribe was already gathered. At a large central fire animals and lizards and birds were cooking in the coals. Tonight there would be feasting, dancing and storytelling until morning.

I fell asleep on Auntie’s lap exhausted with excitement and play.

In an isolated spot down in the creek bed, Stepfather built a bough shelter. The campfire lit the night. Mama bedded me down, wrapped in our only blanket on one side of the fire, while she herself lay down between the fire and the shelter to keep warm. We slept.

A shadow took a burning bough and laid it to the shelter. Flames caught the tinder wall of boughs and burned fiercely. Mama screamed as the flames reached her, she picked me up and flung me away from the flames.

Other women rushed to Mama’s aid, smothering the flames. Mama was laid on a blanket under a tree. The witch doctor summoned with his chants and dances.

‘Mama, I want Mama,’ I whimpered. I crept over to the grotesque form. This blackened charred body could not be my beautiful Mama. Tears flowed down my face

‘I’m here, sweetheart.’ The swollen lips were stiff and hardly moved.

A bloated, outstretched arm invited me to creep in close to her charred side. I did and slept.

Smoke filtered up through gnarled old gums in the creek from deserted fires. At death the tribe fled their camps the corroboree was over before it even started.

News of the tragedy reached the homestead above the creek. The white Missus came down to the camp, wanting to help. She looked at Mama lying under the tree, covered in flies. I saw the revulsion on her face.

‘Can I take her to live with me?’ Missus asked Stepfather. ‘She will be my little girl’s playmate.’

‘Take her.’ Stepfather nodded enigmatically from his campfire. ‘She’s yella.’ His black eyes, full of cunning and menace, watched Missus’ every move from under the veranda of bushy eyebrows. ‘I need flour, sugar, tea, and baccy,’ he suggested.

Missus frowned, ‘OK. I’ll get you the groceries,’ she muttered under her breath, sold for thirty pieces of silver.

The Missus stretched out her hand to me, she looked kind, her voice soft like Mama’s. Together we climbed the steep bank of the creek to the house.

‘Mama?’ I looked up at Missus. I hung back I didn’t want to leave Mama

‘Mama is dead,’ Missus said, looking down at me. ‘I will look after you and you can be my little girl. You can wear pretty dresses like Lucy. I’ve got a dolly for you.’

Such riches dazzled me.

As night fell, I heard Missus say, ‘the woman is dead, thank God. She must have suffered terribly. The Stepfather has vanished.’

Missus bathed me and tucked into bed something Mama never did. I longed for Mama, her warm body and the smell of smoke from campfires.

Like a shadow, I flitted down the passage and away to the creek bed. The fires were cold. Mama was gone. Somewhere in the distance, a dingo howled. I shivered in terror and raced back to the homestead. Tears flooded down my cheeks. My childhood was over. Dingo pups had dens; baby birds had nests but I… I was a yella fella, a foreigner among my own.

'You Can't Take Them:' this is an anecdote from the biography of Clara Johnson Coulthard Brady. Clara records her memory of when she was taken

“Mum, why can’t I go out shepherding?” I was so angry I stamped my feet. Mum would not answer. She looked as though she wanted to cry. I ran to Grandmother hoping I could get around her, “Why can’t I go with you today?” I demanded, whining and crying like a hurt dingo pup, but Grandmother just looked at me she seemed very sad. I couldn’t work out that morning why I couldn’t go out with my grandmother and Auntie Ruby. I knew they were going out rabbiting and shepherding the goats but I had to stay with my mother in the Ernabella creek where we had our camp and where my grandmother and her brothers were camped. I didn’t think of it at the time but in later years it occurred to me there must have been a reason for me to stay behind. I suspect Harry Brumby and Mr. Ferguson must have told my mother the police had been given an order by the Protector of Aborigines, Ron and I were to be picked up.

Later that day the police arrived walking along the creek with an air of authority that filled people with fear.

“We have been authorised to take Clara and Ronald into the children’s Home in Oodnadatta,” one of the policemen said full of superiority.

“Have you got their things packed?’ the other one asked and reached out to take Ron and me.

“You can’t take them,” my mother screamed.

“We have been ordered to take them. It would be best if you let them come calmly.”

From the biography The Spirit Prevails by Gwenneth Leane

At The Children's Home


Success stories of Indigenous Australia

Aboriginal Australians of the Year

Each year on Australia Day (January 26th) Australia honours the Australian of the Year, persons who “inspire us through their achievements and challenge us to make our own contribution to creating a better Australia”

Here is a list of the Aboriginal Australians of the Year.

  • 2014 Adam Goodes (AFL player)
  • 2009 Mick Dodson (Professor of law)
  • 1998 Cathy Freeman (athlete)
  • 1992 Mandawuy Yunupingu (Yothu Yindi band leader)
  • 1984 Lowitja O’Donoghue (nurse and ATSIC chairperson)
  • 1979 Neville Bonner (first Aboriginal parliamentarian)
  • 1978 Galarrwuy Yunupingu (Yolngu leader, brother of Mandawuy)
  • 1971 Evonne Goolagong Cawley (tennis player)
  • 1968 Lionel Rose (boxer)


In 2014, there were 14 Aboriginal finalists for the Australian of the Year Awards. By 2015, one in 7 Australian of the Year recipients were Aboriginal.

Mick Dodd, Australian of the Year Says

It's this increasingly casual reaction to Indigenous achievement and success that is a marker of how far we've come. It's becoming unexceptional to have successful Indigenous filmmakers, artists, doctors, academics, lawyers, nurses and politicians. This is the other side, the often - and unfortunately - untold side, of the story we hear about Indigenous Australia.—Mick Dodson, Australian of the Year 2009 [4]

Check out the collection of famous Aboriginal sports people.

Aboriginal Rock Art Kakadu National Park


Arguments among the animals

Isn't it better to keep the peace than to claim our rights? Insisting on our rights isolates us from our fellowman in the long run

A Story from Aboriginal Lore

The Kangaroo and the Euro lived together in the Dream-time, very happily until Kangaroo felt that Euro was eating too much of the good grass on the plains.

One day he said, ‘Why don’t you stay up in the hills, Euro? There isn’t room down here on the plains for both of us.’ However, Euro went on nibbling the delicious green grass heedless of Kangaroo.

One day Euro found Kangaroo up in his beloved hills. ‘What are you doing up here? This is my country,’ he stated.

‘I can go where I like,’ snorted Kangaroo.

The two animals began trying to get the better of each other. One-day matters came to a head when Kangaroo found Euro eating his best and finest grass.

‘You’re eating my grass again,’ grumbled Kangaroo, ‘you have plenty up in the hills. Why do you have to come down and eat mine?’

‘This grass belongs to everybody,’ said Euro, haughtily.

‘Get off my grass,’ ordered Kangaroo angrily.

‘You don’t own this grass, ‘yelled Euro, as he hopped away.

Kangaroo was happy; he thought he had the grass to himself. The cane grass and other grasses grew thick and lush on the plains. One evening Kangaroo noticed that Euro was back. A great anger filled him.

‘This grass is mine. Get off.’

‘This grass is mine,’ mimicked Euro.

Therefore, they set to, Kangaroo thumping and punching; Euro pulling and kicking, until hurt and bleeding Euro hopped back to the hills never to return to the plains except sometimes, to raid Kangaroo’s grass.

Euro was never the same, he was short and stocky because of the punching that Kangaroo gave him. Kangaroo was different as well. He was thinner and taller, because Euro had pulled him and punched him.

That is why the Kangaroo and the Euro are different. Their greediness even changed the way they grew.

The Kangaroo



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    • Perspycacious profile image

      Demas W Jasper 

      3 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      Quite a compelling story, and anecdote. I'm glad you commented on my status quote so that I found this. Thanks.


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