The Bodalla Township and surrounding area have played a major role in the lives of the present day generation of Aboriginal families across the region. Families travelled from near and far to work picking peas, beans and sac choline. Itinerate camps were established along the Tuross River and on the farms along Eurobodalla Road. Oral accounts reveal that in the main, the seasonal farming workforce consisted of Aboriginal people; men, women and children. Picking work was hard work, but paid off because a lot of time was spent amongst one’s family. Often the men would work at nearby sawmill, whilst the women and children picked. Many of the picker’s children attended Bodalla Public School; picking families continue to attend Bodalla Public School today.
The area, generally referred to as either ‘Bodalla’, ‘the back of Bodalla’ or Nerrigundah’, refers to the region between Bodalla and Nerrigundah, with a focus on the Tuross River. Each of these areas has been detailed below, beginning with the Bodalla Township.
Cemetery Hill, in Bodalla is not far from the Emmott’s farm, along the Eurobodalla Road. Linda’s husband Oliver Colburn is buried here. There is also another cemetery in Bodalla. Both continue to be used. The cemetery at Nerrigundah is not used any more [Linda Colburn 11.5.2006].
Muriel Chapman, Les Simon’s maternal grandmother worked opening and selling scallops for Bobby Baxter of Bodalla [Les Simon 3.11.2005].
The Bodalla ‘Borangs’ or pig farm was behind the Bodalla Church behind Bodalla. ‘….I was amongst the boys, my sisters grew up and I was left behind. We do not have access to the pig farm any more, but there is good fishing there. ……’ [Marcia Ella Duncan 5.1.2006].
The Bodalla Pound Yards were located on Princess Highway opposite the police station. Wandering stock including horses, cattle and goats would be collected by the authorities and kept here. The police would charge people a fee to collect their stock. This was the location where one would wait for a ride when hitch hiking [Lionel Mongta 2.1.2006].
On Saturdays after being paid from picking work Jennifer Stewart recalls catching a bus, driven by Dudley Murphy, into Bodalla Hall to see a film for 5 cents. Dances would also be held in the hall. She would book a taxi, driven by Vinni Dixon, as transport back to Lavis’s farm [Jennifer Stewart 09.11.2005].
On a Saturday the kids would walk into Bodalla from the Potato Point camp to see a picture at the Bodalla Hall. Alan recalls seeing a Charlie Chapman film there [Alan Mongta 25.11.2005].
Linda Colburn began attending Bodalla School in 1940, when her family first moved from Orbost, Victoria, to Bodalla, to work seasonal farming. Linda travelled daily to Bodalla School from Wayne Court. During the 1950s when Linda and her husband moved to ‘Tyrone’, the farm adjacent to Wayne Court, also owned by the Stanford family, Linda’s children attended Bodalla School. Today, Linda’s grandchildren attend Bodalla School [Linda Colburn 11.5.2006].
In 1945 Alan Mongta attended Bodalla School, whilst living with his mother, father, brothers and sisters at nearby Coopers Island. The Carriage, Cruse, Mason, Brown and Parsons families also attended Bodalla School. ‘We all got on with the white people, we were not much trouble’ [Alan Mongta 25.11.2005].
Terry Parsons and his brothers and sisters went to Bodalla School during the 1960s [Terry Parsons 18.12.2005].
Ronnie Mason went to Bodalla School with his brothers and sisters during the 1950s [Ronnie Mason 5.1.2006].
Patricia Ellis [nee Connell] and her sisters rode their pushbikes from Reedy Creek, a Tributory off the Tuross River, to Bodalla School along Nerrigundah Road or they caught the mail truck [Trisha Ellis 4.2.2006].
Linda Cruse’s brother was taught by Mrs Nappfly at Bodalla Public School. Mrs Nappfly also taught Ben Cruse, Linda’s father, years earlier at Batemans Bay High School. Linda thought that Bodalla School was a very good school for both black and white kids. The kids and teachers were all friends. Linda attended Bodalla School until 4th class, and then on and off until 6th class. During the war years, trenches were dug in the schoolyards, in case of a bombing raid. Often, the kids would have to participate in a practise drill, all gathering in the trenches [Linda Cruse 1.3.2006].
Nanna Bella [Mable Simms] would scratch our heads to put us to sleep and sew corn bags together, all layered to keep us warm. Ronnie’s father got rabbits for her, Nanna Bella told us about the ‘duligarls’, the funny fella, and the ‘gornjers’, ‘don’t go there…’ she’d say. She was a wise and tricky woman. She told us about walking around the area when there were no cars. She lived in Bodalla [Ronnie Mason 5.1.2006].
During the 1960s Dave Tout lived for a period with Joseph Chapman, at his house in Bodalla. Joseph could speak Dhurga and taught Dave some of the language [Dave Tout 25.1.2006].
Les Chapman once lived in what is now the Bodalla LALC office. He worked at the Aboriginal Legal Service and his boss was Eddie Bloxham [John Mumbler 24.5.2006].
Les Chapman lived in Bodalla, where the Bodalla Local Aboriginal Land Council office is today. Les delivered the timber from Nerrigundah Mill [Georgina Parsons 6.6.2006].
Excerpt from "Stories About the Eurobodalla by Aboriginal People", 2006. Story Contributed by Martin Ind from Moruya High School.