In September we had a bush course where I was born, at Tara, near Neutral Junction cattle station, 300 kilometres north of Alice Springs. I was born there in 1965.
One afternoon before dinner, Ingkaarta Neville drove me, Malcolm Willcocks and Adam Hensley to the cattle station, about two kilometres from the Aboriginal community. As we drove into the station, I said, ‘That’s my school’. We stopped in front of the Neutral Junction school. We talked to the lady principal. She was excited to meet someone who had been to the school a long time ago. They want to bulldoze the school down over the Christmas holidays and put up a new one. So we took photos of everyone in front of the old school.
I felt sad because it would be gone.
I remember walking from our home over to the school each morning. We walked home for lunch and came straight back to school. I enjoyed maths and reading, and I tried to talk good English.
I remember my dad teaching Bible stories in the school to give the teacher a break from teaching. He also preached in Arrarnta every Sunday, inside the galvanized shed if it was hot and outside if it was cold.
As young fellas we went swimming in the nearby waterholes. We roamed all over the country hunting for kangaroo. On weekends the families went camping. A bean tree is still standing just west of where our house used to be.
Pastor F W Albrecht had sent my dad up there from Hermannsburg. He was the evangelist bringing the gospel to the Kaytetye-speaking (Kay-ditch) people. They worked as stockmen. I grew up learning Kaytetye from the kids I played with. I only learnt Arrarnta when we returned to Hermannsburg.
In 1962 Ingkaarta Neville’s father, Bruno Doecke, came up and built a house for my family.
It was good to show people where I grew up and went to school.
Rodney Malbunka is a pastor at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Hermannsburg.