Interview: Wadi Wadi Elder Phoebe Nicholson
Interview: Wadi Wadi Elder Phoebe Nicholson,
Sarah Rhodes, producer,
Koorie Heritage Trust, 2011
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Wadi Wadi Elder Phoebe Nicholson talks about family time on the Murray River, how various members of the community had input to the Wadi Wadi cloak, and the motifs on the cloak.
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My name is Phoebe Nicholson. I've lived in Kerang for nearly forty years. My mother's tribal connections are Wemba Wemba, Yorta Yorta, Wadi and Barap.
We’ve gone back home along the Murray River and then across to the Murrumbidgee. We've had all our holidays basically on the river. Since school has finished we pack up the trailer and the kids and pets and everything and head off out to the river and camp out there. Spent quiet a few Christmas's out there over in the Barham Koondrook Forest. Along with, you know, a few of our other close family and friends. Esther used to come out, that's my sister, and my other sister Laila, all bring our tents and, you know, we had the tents all around. All the kids used to play there and we'd cook out there, sit up and still tell stories during the night and wanted kids to go to bed early, we’d tell them some scary yarns [laughs] and frighten them off to bed. Sometimes we'd frighten ourselves a little bit too, I think.
Just watch out for different kinds of birds that bring messages. You’ve got the little willy wagtail. If he comes hanging around, you know there is trouble coming soon or, you know, something that's not very good. We call him a little bad news little bird.
And then you've got the plover and the mopoke, that's a night owl that comes out and knows to bring you. You know soon after you hear them, there's bound to be sad or bad news coming. Curlews are similar, similar type of message bird that, they’re like all message birds. That's about as far as the birds go.
We've spent most of our time mixing in with Wadi, Wemba, Yorta Yorta, Barap, Waradjuri - that's my Dad's people.
So, getting back to the skin. They were pretty curious to see, you know, how I was going to make this and … pretty excited. Mum's going to be doing something for the Commonwealth Games. They were quite interested in what was happening. Yeah, yeah I've got me daughter's design up on the top. So we've had a few different ones who have had input into it, which all I thought was a good thing that community members were involved in it.
This one across the top is my daughter's contribution to the design. A little bit more contemporary art with the two rivers running to the Murray River, which flows right down through the middle of the design and that covers the first three panels. So it's good.
My son came up with ideas about the scar trees; evidence that Koori people were here and that's a pretty good landmark when you see that. So that was one of the other things.
One you can't see very well there, but on this end you've got a bit of the men going out hunting on the river in the canoes and some of the things they might catch, like fish and ducks, turtles. As we go on, you'll see in more detail what's on each panel. . . different pictures.
I've done it in my own style of drawing or painting you know. It’s how I perceive it must have been back then. So I’ve kept this end for what I thought the men might do, and they'd be comfortable going out and doing those things, like as you would when you take your kids out to the bush. The men and the boys go off and do something. So that's how I saw it fit into this particular design.