Name: Nella Bryan
Mob: Mutti Mutti
School: Hidden Dale Regional High
Favourite Colour: Red
Favourite Book: Grace beside me by Sue McPherson
Favourite Movie: Beneath Clouds
Favourite Music: The Last Kinection
Favourite Food: Stew and Johnny cakes
My name’s Nella – short for Yanella, but nobody calls me that. I live with my mum Wendy. Wendy reckons my Dad’s from Redfern. I never met him. I live in Weston. It’s the kinda place you go to die in – one shop, one pub and a clinic, dirt roads lined with falling down houses and rubbish tip yards. No jobs, nothing to do but drink and have sex and fight. We used to have some good programs- a cultural centre with tours, dance shows, an art gallery- draw in the tourists driving past on the highway. I danced with the Brolga dancers. I’d be in front and lead all the young ones out. All them tourists would get photos with me in my emu feathers and paint on my face, but when they closed CDP down, the cultural centre went with it. Some of the locals tried to keep it going but no one wants to work for nothing and no one in this town got a business degree.
Only person I’ll miss is Nana Maggie who lives next door. That’s where Wyatt lives. She’s not really my nana, but I call her that Aboriginal way. She looked after me more than Wendy ever did. Nan taught me how to dance and how to weave. I don’t go over there as much anymore cos Wyatt follows me around everywhere asking questions like he’s my Father. Sometimes I think he’s a homo but then he acts like he’s jingli for me. He thinks just because we used to run around in the nud and have baths together we promised up or something.
A few years ago, the Brolga Dancers were invited to go to dance in Canada at some big cultural conference… I dunno why they just didn’t replace me but Nana Maggie reckoned there was no one else, so they cancelled the trip…Sometimes I think I should have gone. Would have been good dancing for everyone, seeing other peoples’ dances. Sort of would’ve been like being in Bangara or something but like Wendy says, where’s dancing gonna get ya? That’s when Luke first started asking for me, after seeing me dance. All the girls go mad for him and one dumb gin was even trying to claim Luke as the father for her kid but no matter how drunk he was he wouldn’t touch her – he says she’s the ugliest looking thing he’s ever seen. Luke’s got a record- drug charges- he took the rap for his brother Tootie, otherwise Tootie would have gone to jail. Luke couldn’t go to Canada and I didn’t want to go without him in case he found someone else. Not that it made a difference. Can’t trust anyone in this place- not even my own family. None of that matters now cos I’m done with this joint, and I don’t care if I don’t never see any of them ever again, not my brothers. Not even Nana Maggie.
Name: Wyatt Reid
Mob: Mutthi Mutthi and Paakantji
School: Hidden Dale Regional High
Favourite Colour: Orange
Favourite Book: Follow the Rabbit Proof Fence by Doris Pilkington Garimara
Favourite Movie: Samson and Delilah
Favourite Music: Casey Donavon
Favourite Food: Sweet potatoes and butter
Hello, my names Wyatt, I live with my Nana Maggie. I can’t really remember Mum, she was always in bed. Nan shows me photos. She was really beautiful before she got sick. Nan doesn’t show me the sick ones but I snuck them once out of Nan’s drawer. I never did again, her face was like a skeleton with brown see-through skin and tufts of black hair. She looked like one of them Halloween masks they sell at the Mildura show. Nan’s always doing something, making baskets or working on a painting. She used to take me and Nella out bush and show us bush tucker and where to get medicine from. Nella is… my neighbour, more like my sister, nah not my sister, she’s too pretty to be my sister. If the kids at school ever picked on me, which they did, Nella would always offer em out. For a pretty girl she can make a real mean face. She always make me laugh. Didn’t matter how sad I felt, she make me laugh. We grew up dancing together, my Nana taught her and my Nan’s brother Poppy Walter taught me. When we danced together they said we were the deadliest dancers they’d ever seen.
Things changed in high school though. We didn’t sit together on the bus though we still danced together at the centre and she talked to me at home, but not the way she used to. A couple of years ago, just after Nella got with that idiot Luke, him and some other year 11 boys wrote ‘faggit’ on my forehead with permanent marker. The whole bus was laughing at me. It wouldn’t come off and I had to ride with my face stuck to the window the whole way to school so nobody could see it. I could see Nella in the reflection of the glass, not trying to make me laugh but laughing at me. I’m not, you know, I know I’m not. It’d break Nan’s heart.
Nella deserves better then him, he’s just like most of the men round here. They treat ‘em mean, keep ‘em keen. Just like Dad. The only way he got Mum, Nan always says. His big muscles, his fast mouth and his even faster feet, especially when Mum needed him. Nan never liked Dad. Lock him up and throw away the key, let him rot! She got her wish eventually. I know I’m s’posed to love him, cos he’s my Dad, but whenever I’d hear he was getting out, I’d get this rash all over my body, knowing he could show up any time, looking for money and hassling Nan. When he died it was like hearing he was going in again, only this time for good, I haven’t had a rash since.
Mob: Mutthi Mutthi and Paakantji
Age: Who’s asking?
School: School of Hard Knocks
Favourite Colour: Black
Favourite Book: Favourite what? Only gammon. Blood on the Wattle by Bruce Elder
Favourite Movie: Stone Bros
Favourite Music: Brother Black
Favourite Food: Whatever’s going
Just call me Cuz. Everyone does. Easy to remember, hard to forget and all you need to know about a man like me. And I’m related to half the families round here. Gotta watch that. End up having babies by the wrong woman if you’re not careful. You gotta know your family tree. Been a while since I been round these parts. I just got out the lockup yesterday, but keep that between you, me and the river. Up here visiting the family and doing a favour for a mate. Go see me kids after that, that’ll take a few stops. Feels good to be a free man I tell you that much, breathing the oxygen, seeing the sights if you know what I mean, that’s the hardest part for a man like me, missing all the beautiful women. Try and keep myself out for a bit this time, maybe pick up some honourable income. Not as easy as you think. Not for a man like me. Not when you get offered big money for doing something real easy like driving up the country in a ute. I mean how can you say no to that?
Name: Just call me Unc
Mob: Wiradjuiri and Mutti Mutti
Age: Never Registered
School: Cummeragunja Mission
Favourite Colour: Red black and yellow
Favourite Book: The Kadaitcha Sung by Sam Watson
Favourite Movie: Wrong side of the road
Favourite music: No Fixed Address
Favourite Food: Anything cooked on the fire
I’ve gone by a lot of names in my years. Freddie, Charlie, call me what you will. Been a lot of things too, musician, story teller, comedian, activist, stockman, travelling didge salesman, even did a few years with the circus! I was an acrobat if you can believe. I’ll give just about everything a go, as long as it keeps me on the winding track. Can’t sit still too long, I was born with an incurable case of itchy feet. Got into social welfare a few years back, rural outreach, travel to the communities round the place – community development and such. The latest gig I got, well it’s interesting to say the least.
That’s me in a nut shell I guess. Well, there’s one more thing you should know about me. I told you I’m a traveller, but not just by road, best way to travel is at night, the way my grandfather taught me. To this day he still walks through my dreams. We visit people, people that need us. Take them stories, about themselves, about the old days, and the ones yet to come. Stories about country, stories about dreams. You think I’m just a crazy old man but I’m not the only one – I wonder which nightwalkers have visited you in your dreams?