Mary Kathleen Duroux (nee Hookwin) was born in Bega in 1934. Mary’s mother died when Mary was 4 years old. Her family’s totem is the Tawny Frogmouth owl, and her personal totem is the echidna. The Tawny Frogmouth totem connects Mary to the Haddigaddi family; Mary’s maternal grandmother was Mariah Picalla, the daughter of Harry Picalla, whose traditional name was ‘Bigalla’. Harry married Sarah Haddigaddi; Sarah’s mother was Lucy Haddigaddi from Wallaga Lake, the wife of Paddi Haddigaddi. Harry Picalla’s mother (Mary’s great, great grandmother) was Broulidgee of Narooma, buried at Brou Lake and his father was King Bemboka.
Mary attended Primary School at Wallaga Lake, Jaspers Brush, Terara, Bega and Bomaderry. Mary was at primary school in Bega when peace was declared for World War Two. At 14 years of age Mary finished Primary School in Bomaderry, and due to circumstances at the time, did not continue on to Nowra high school. Mary declined a Welfare traineeship to become a Welfare Officer, after becoming aware of what was required in the role during her weekend work in the Bomaderry Homes. Mary took up work as a housemaid, which she continued to rely on throughout her life when other work was unavailable. Mary also worked in Bega, Coopers Island, Stony Creek, Nerrigundah and Moruya picking seasonal vegetables and housekeeping.
During the 1950s, one of the places Mary did seasonal work was at Nerrigundah. Picking days at Nerrigundah were ‘the best times of my life, together with friends and family you were always sharing a laugh…’. Regular church services were held at the Nerrigundah Barn. The barn was also accommodation for the pickers. Mary also worked at Roley Lavis’s dairy farm on the Tuross River, picking seasonal vegetables. Mary lived at Stony Creek when she was in her early 20s. When living at Stony Creek, Mary recalls collecting bimbullas from Dalmeny Lake. They would fill up a tin caddy and take them back to Stony Creek to Curry them up for dinner. Mary also lived on Coopers Island with family. They were all picking beans whilst Mary also looked after the younger kids from time to time, as was common practise.
In 1963 Mary moved to Kempsey and became involved in Aboriginal community affairs. Mary returned to Moruya in 1989, where she continues to live today.
Excerpt from Stories About the Eurobodalla by Aboriginal People, 2006. Story contributed by Martin Ind from Moruya High School.