This post is based on papers I gave at the National Native Title Conference in June and the Australian Historical Association Conference in July 2016.
Ever since I can remember I have been connected to the small remote, Aboriginal community of Hope Vale. It is the home of my Uncles’ and Aunties, cousins and other relatives. It was where I went on holidays to visit my Mugay and my Nanny or go camping at Elim Beach, and was for a time, where lived and where I attend the local state school .
Hope Vale was the place my step-father and aunty and Uncles grew up, the place where my Nanny was sent in the late 50s after her marriage was arranged and the place where great grandfather Ngulunhthul or Charlie Pearson was removed to as a child. The connection that I have is not just to this place but to the people who have lived their lives there.
In preparation for a trip to Adelaide to meet my long-lost uncle and his family, I have tried to find more clues on the Breaden family from South Australia. I am trying to work out if and how the other Breadens in South Australia’s history are connected to mine.
In the military papers of Charles Baird there is a reference to a man by the name of William Roberts. Initially thought to be a misplaced letter, the piece of paper actually solved a 90-year-old mystery—what happened to Charles Baird.
I first learnt about the ‘evacuation’ of Bama to Woorabinda many years ago. I can’t pinpoint a precise date or tell you how old I was—I feel like I have always known about it. I grew up in the legacy of the removal of Bama from Cape Bedford mission (now Hope Vale) and my life was shaped by it.
This essay was originally submitted as a part of an independent research project on the evacuation of Bama from Cape Bedford Mission. The subject was HUMS301 and my supervisor was Ms Lorina Barker. The question I addressed was: What was the impact of the evacuation of Cape Bedford Bama to Woorabinda during WWII?
In May 1942 the Bama—Aboriginal people—who were residents of the Lutheran mission at Cape Bedford were evacuated to Woorabinda. The reasons for their removal are to this day unclear, though it is possible that a variety of social, political and economic reasons relating to Australia’s involvement in World War II contributed. The people who were removed suffered significantly due a decision that had very little to do with them. The impacts included the devastating loss of family, the benefit of being paid for their labour for the first time and the creation of a long-lasting cultural and social legacy. The removal had a number of long-lasting impacts and as a whole cannot be considered either entirely positive or negative. While the removal is considered to be both an unnecessary and a traumatic experience for all involved, the benefits of the removal are clear for the Bama who were removed and the community that was formed by the evacuees when they returned—Hope Vale.