Jambi - Part One
Jambi - Part One, Film
Vincent Lamberti, 2013
Not to be reproduced without the permission of the copyright holder.Copyright
Fringe Dweller Films & NITV
This is the remarkable story of Jambi O'Rourke the sole survivor of a massacre at Butchers Ridge in remote East Gippsland, the Irish settlers who rescued him. An extraordinary tale of reconciliation is told by the Aboriginal and Irish descendants of Aboriginal basket weaver Elaine Terrick and Grazier Ken Hodge.
-Massacres happened down in our area, just because they did. Because there was a lot of stealing of the sheep or cow. And from my knowledge of the raiding, that was the main, right purpose of massacre-- for thieving animal to live. Because white mans come here. Cleared the bush. Made it his home. Moved the blackfellas' food/tukka out.
So they've picked on the animals-- which was just standing, they didn't have to chase. And yeah, they were rubbing their bellies later with the feed. Were probably that night or the next day, they were killed for having that animal.
And the Snowy River yarn, which I believe to be true, is just that there was a mob of troopers out riding one day. And this woman was trying to make it from one side of the river to the other. Snowy River is very wide in places. And they spotted her. It was just the troopers and they shot her, but they didn't get the little fella-- and him growing up to be Jambi O'Rourke To our knowledge, we are direct descendants of that man.
-In 1814, the original O'Rourke landed at Botany Bay. I think it was in a boat called the "Three Bees." The boat didn't get back to England. It burnt in the harbor. And he had to do seven years. Now, we don't really know-- nobody's ever been able to tell me why he was given a free trip to Australia [CHUCKLES] in 1814. But the rumor was that he'd been caught teaching Irish children to read and write in what they referred to as hedge schools in those days.
-From that massacre where his mother got shot and those Irish people saved him and took him back to Suggan Buggan where he was reared up into a young man with English tongue-- spoke English-- Jambi was his name, but he had the name of O'Rourke, which was, of course, not Aboriginal. It's Irish. That's what bought my attention.
I was looking for my mother's maiden name. Where did she get an Irish name from? Black mother-- that's why I did what I had to do to find out where it came from. And Jambi was sole survivor. The took him back. They reared him. Then they left him as a older young man, I guess and went and had his own tribe. That's why I sit here and tell this story today.
-Well, I was always led to believe that it was my great-grandfather, David, and his cousin Edward. They picked up when they came along. They knew nothing about what was going on with people shooting Aboriginals. And they hove on the scene just by chance some hours later to find Jambi's mother dead on the sand of the Snowy with this little pickaninny beside her.
And they picked the pickaninny up and took him home and reared him. And he was reared among their family, as far as I could make out, just like one of their own. And he grew up to be a man-- was very well-respected stockman within the family.
-When you educated that young fella, thank you for giving him a name that he could walk without being-- you know? That's how I feel. He had a surname-- might have been the white surname that saved him all those years. I don't know. He survived a massacre, so he walked-- he's life with a white name, as far as I know-- Jambi O'Rourke. So in that sort of context, he had protection because he had that white name.
-I became curious because I always thought then, I would just love to run into some of Jambi's descendents.
-We'd just jumped off the train at Southern Cross, now, where me and my cousin Frances, we're out front having a cigarette. Frances and Lennie-- Lennie and Catherine, they don't smoke. So they're sitting there having a cup of tea. Two old couple walk up to Lennie-- or they're sitting at the next table-- and said something to Lennie as to, you come from Lake Tyers, do you? It was something to that effect. And Lennie said, yes. As a matter of fact, I was born there.
-And he said to me, hang on. And he yelled out [CHUCKLES] Elaine, come here! [LAUGHS] And with that, Elaine Terrick came over, and I told her what I was looking for and why I was looking for them. And she happened to say that she was, I think, the great-granddaughter of Jambi.
And I said, well, I'm looking for them because I want to know the story of Jambi from your people, not from the white man. And I said, and I don't care what it is. And so with that, she then said to me, but I'm looking for the O'Rourkes. I've been looking for a year or two, and there's none of them about. I said, my grandmother happened to be Johanna Mary O'Rourke.
-After my two years of studying at TAFE, this was the fellow I was looking for, and he found me in the middle of thousands of people-- Southern Cross Station, Melbourne. I think he was on his way down here to Bairnsdale and Buchan, actually, to see his brother who lives out in Wulgumerang, out past Buchan. And we was on our way to Alice Springs. So just to meet him at that one spot, that was unreal.
-How you doin', Ken? Nice to see you again.
-Yes, good to see ya. Funny how we met here. Isn't it?
-Very interesting. All that history to go past, for me and you too. Met upstairs, and it's just unreal. Isn't it?
-It is unreal. People don't believe it, when I tell them--
- --that I had been keeping my eye open for years to try and run into descendents of Jambi. It's good to be able to thank the descendents of your people for allowing my forebearers to settle in that area. Because your people could have wiped them out any time you liked.
-I reckon we're a good mob.
I reckon you're a good mob too.
All right then, Ken.
-We'd better get up this way and have a cuppa now, eh?