Cast and Crew Croker Island Exodus

People

CAST

NETTA CAHILL

Born in the late 1930s, Netta was on walkabout with her mother visiting her Grandmother in Oodnadatta when she was picked up by police and taken to Charlotte Waters a pick up station for half-caste children.

“They gave us the surname ‘Waters’ because Charlotte Waters was the pick-up station”.
Netta believes she was four or five years old at the time and has vivid memories of this traumatic event. Netta was sent to the Bungalow institution in Alice Springs.
“At the Bungalow we use to snatch food off one another. We were like little puppy dogs picking up apple cores and skin. The Government did not do much for me but the Church has really lifted me up and gave me my strong character and they showed me how to love and respect one another.”

Much of her young life was spent on the newly formed Croker Island Mission and she recalls happy days with the other children,
“I don’t think I was strong enough to be their guardian sisters but we still cared for each other, because we were taught and we had nobody else to love us. We loved each other…”
Sent south to escape the threat from Japanese fighters during WW2, she returned to Croker Island after the war and stayed on the Island until around 14 years of age when she was sent into Darwin to work. Netta married and had four children. At the age of 45 she received an unexpected message, the mother who she believed long dead had been into the Native Affairs Office in Alice Springs asking of her welfare. So, at 45, Netta met her mother again. She has fond memories of the reunion although she was shocked at the impoverished conditions that her family lived in. Netta now has 16 grand children and 8 great grand children and is still enjoying her life in Darwin.

ALICE BRISTON

“It was Native Affairs that picked two colored kids up, that was Ruby Palmer and me and this bloke held two of us in his hands, took us away from my mother up to Kahlin Compound beach, there was a track from the beach up to where the home was, so anyway we got left there.”
Alice was sent to numerous half-caste institutions before ending up
in the care of the Methodist Church at Croker Island.

“And we used to have good fun in the creek, and the water over us. It was lovely. And I reckon it was a very nice place to live. It was home for me, our home.”
Alice was evacuated with all the other children to Otford and returned to Croker Island Mission until she reached 16 years old.

She worked as a domestic before meeting her husband and having eleven children. She has a large extended family of grandchildren and great grandchildren.
“I don’t know how I survived up to now. Having children and looking after them and growing them up you know, we respectable people”.
A life long supporter of the Darwin Buffaloes AFL football side, she can still be found most weekends supporting her beloved team.

JESSIE LYONS

Jessie was taken to the ‘half-caste pick up station’ at Charlotte Waters but unlike Netta Jessie doesn’t remember being taken away.
“I never seen my mother again and I never met my father until 1974. When someone told me my father was down in Katherine I said; who’s my father? I didn’t know I had a father for heavens sake. Sad…”

Jessie was sent to the Bungalow Mission in Alice Springs and when the war broke up was sent up to Croker Island Mission.

“Croker Island was so beautiful, paradise. We looked after the younger ones when they come to Croker Island. Well I was a cottage mother when I was still going to High school”.
Jessie had 8 children and numerous grandchildren and great grand children, there’s so many she’s stopped counting. She still lives in Darwin and her children affectionately call her “car dog” because when anyone is going bush for a drive, Jessie is the first one in the car.
I’m grateful anyway for what the missionaries did for me, they taught us how to look after ourselves, look after our children. I mean there’s a lot of other things I think about but I don’t say anything about it.

MARGARET SOMERVILLE

Born in 1912, Margaret Somerville was the daughter of a Methodist Minister. She was employed as a cottage mother at the Croker Island Methodist Mission from 1941-65.
She was one of three cottage mothers who helped take the children from the mission to safety in Otford, New South Wales during World War 2.
“We will not leave without the children.”

A young woman with zeal, generosity and compassion, she wrote They Crossed A Continent about her experiences based on a letter she wrote to her parents en route during the evacuation. When she launched the book in 2010 Governor–General Quentin Bryce said, “This is one of the greatest of all Australian stories of love and compassion.”
When the war ended, Margaret returned to Croker Island with 69 of the children. She was the only one of the original cottage mothers to do so. She dedicated the rest of her to life working with children.

In 1965, Margaret returned to Sydney, accompanied by two foster children who later returned to their family. She was awarded an MBE for her work on Croker Island and the Somerville Homes in Darwin are named in her honour. Margaret turns 100 in September 2012, and is still going strong.

FILMMAKERS

STEVEN McGREGOR

WRITER & DIRECTOR

Steven McGregor is an Indigenous writer/director from Darwin and a graduate of the Australian Film, Television and Radio School. He was the director on the award winning documentaries My Brother Vinnie and 5 Seasons. His most recent production was the acclaimed 3 part documentary series, In a League Of Their Own. Steven’s 50 min drama Cold Turkey screened in festivals all over the world and was nominated for two AFI awards. He worked as a script advisor and Indigenous consultant on Baz Luhrmann’s Australia and has written for the new ABC series, Redfern Now. He is soon to direct George Rrurrambu, the story of the legendary front man of the Warumpi Band.

DANIELLE MacLEAN

WRITER & PRODUCER

Danielle MacLean is an Indigenous writer/director and producer from Darwin. She directed many CAAMA productions before writing and directing For Who I Am: Bonita Mabo, My Colour Your Kind and the award-winning drama Queen of Hearts. She has written for the new ABC series Redfern Now.

ANNA GRIEVE

PRODUCER

For 8 years, Anna was Executive Producer at Film Australia and Screen Australia. Her slate covered all genres with a particular focus on investigative history, drama documentary and online. Her extensive production credits include the multi award winning Dhakiyarr vs the King, Mobidocs with the NFB and four films with Peter Butt including Who Killed Dr Bogle and Mrs Chandler? Recent highlights include 2012 SXSW Interactive award winner, the multi-platform documentary Big Stories, Small Towns  www.bigstories.com.au