Alan Mongta was born in Nowra in 1938. Alan’s mother and maternal grandfather were from Delegate, NSW. Alan’s father and paternal grandmother were from Lake Tyers, Victoria. Alan’s paternal grandfather was originally from India.
Alan followed his father around Victoria and NSW picking beans, hunting rabbits, and working in the sawmill and fishing industries. Alan lived and worked at Coopers Island, Nerrigundah, Cadgee, Potato Point, Bodalla, and Turlinjah, and attended school at Bodalla, whilst living with his parents at nearby Coopers Island. The base diet during this period was peas, corn, beans, rabbit; kangaroo tail soup and Kangaroo steak, along with government rations.
During Christmas holidays when the picking season came to an end, Alan and his family would camp at Potato Point with many other koori families. Alan still goes to the same little spot, although there are houses close by now. They would catch lobsters and abalone. Alan’s uncles showed him some old carvings at Potato Point. They would also fish around Horse Island and Blackfellows Point. The kids would walk into Bodalla on a Saturday to see a film at the Bodalla Hall; Alan saw a Charlie Chaplin film there.
In 1956, aged 18 Alan worked at Dalmeny on the tuna boats and at the Dalmeny Sawmill. He would walk 10 miles to Coopers Island with his sleeper tools, in search of timber to make an 8-foot sleeper, which he would get 10 pounds, or 14 pounds if they were from stringy bark. The sleepers would be left where they were found and collected later using a horse drawn chain.
Alan continues to live in Bodalla today.Excerpt from Stories About the Eurobodalla by Aboriginal People, 2006. Story contributed by Martin Ind from Moruya High School.