Daryl Cliff Reid – in his own words
Born 1947 at Wannarn, Ngaanyatjarra Lands in Western Australia
At approximately 10 years of age, my family, Mother, father and younger sister (now deceased), moved to Warburton mission.
I attended the mission school which was run by the United Aboriginal Mission from Melbourne. There was a boy's boarding school and a girl's boarding school; my sister went to the girl's boarding school.
As the school was a boarding school for children only, Mother Kalatji Reid (from the Lewis family) and my father Tommy Reid (from the Newbury family) continued to live in the bush, coming to the mission from time to time with dingo skins which they traded for stores, such as flour, tin meat, sugar, tea and tobacco.
Life at the mission school was busy and regulated. Early in the morning the boys took it in turn to do jobs. A roster was listed and each of the groups for each of the jobs had an alphabetical letter. Cliff did jobs that were listed in the D column on any given day ….others might have jobs listed in the A or F or some other alphabetical list. The names of the people and families were given by the mission workers as they did not understand or could not cope with the Wangi or proper names of the people.
Some of the jobs were milking the goats, cutting wood, emptying the night bucket, (pot) from the boy's home, cleaning rooms and yard, washing dishes and cleaning eating area after meals. The mission had an extensive vegetable garden and orchard. Some of the vegetables that Cliff remembers are lettuce, tomatoes, peas, cabbage.
Mid morning after the chores were completed, the boys went to school to learn reading and numbers. They also had religious education and sporting activity. Life was very regimented, they formed lines and marched to each activity, they prayed before every activity, school, meals, Sunday school and so on.
They stayed with their families during the school holidays. Cliff liked life at the mission, it was ordered, a lot of company and good fun activity, playing with friends, for recess they got condensed milk to drink
Many of the families that he knows now and that live at Blackstone or nearby were at the Warburton Mission at the same time as Cliff. Some of the families came now and then but continued their life in the bush, that is how the Forbes family lived and Cliff's friend Andrew Mitchell, worked at Sheep stations down Laverton way from an early age, while Cliff was still at the boy's home at the mission.
While still living at the mission but on holiday travelling with his family, cliff remembers Len Beadell coming through and surveying the great central highway, then the big machines coming to make the road. He remembers Len's daughter travelling with him as a small girl and now she brings tourists up this way to visit, she will be coming through in August.
In the mid to late 50s cliff remembers the bomb testing at Maralinga and he tells of the clouds of bad stuff that come over Warburton.
When the mission closed in or around 1960, there was little to keep Cliff at Warburton and he wandered off, down Laverton way where he found employment with various sheep stations. He worked as a drover, a yard hand and he was involved with the stacking and pressing of wool bales. At Banya Station he dug a large drenching trench for the sheep.
In 1966, 14th February the new Aussie Dollar became currency. Cliff earned enough money in the new currency to buy his first car which was a Ford Custom Line. He was working at Sturt Meadow Station as a sheep drover at the time.
In the 1960s we formed an indigenous football team with people from Laverton and Warburton … we were called the Desert Warriors and we played against the employees of the mining companies based at Laverton and Leonora.
In 1970 I returned to Warburton where I married and lived for a while. The children from that marriage live in the Wannarn area now. My sister is now dead and her son Robert comes to live with me at Blackstone regularly.
I was born at Warnnan and the Seven Sisters Story is strong for me on my mother's side. There is important country and Secret Men's tjurkurrpa at Wannarn but I am not free to talk about that one.
I have lived a long time at Blackstone with my second wife and children, my wife's father founded this community when he brought his family back here to live in the early 70s. He never made his home in the mission; he always lived the traditional life in country. The first time he settled down was when he brought his family back to this country where he was custodian of many important dreaming stories. This land is very sacred and that is why we live here to look after it. Through my wife and her family I feel a strong link to this place and through my birth place and my father I have a strong continuing link to the country at Wannarn. My mother being linked to the Lewis family belonged to the area immediately north of Blackstone. This is now my country also.
At Blackstone I helped to build the original airstrip, we had no big machines; we built the air strip with pick and shovel, by hand. You can still see the remains of that airstrip to the west of the community as you drive out on the Jameson Road.
In 2003 Kumanarra Isgar came to Blackstone and I started to paint for her. I feel that I have set a good example to the other people in Blackstone and hopefully to the younger people as well. I have been a leader in the art work. We will soon have a new art centre and I think that I have been a good influence for that to happen. The Papulankutja artists is a strong organization and very important for the future of Blackstone.
I worry for the future. When I was a boy, there were strong rules, good policemen who ensured that you obeyed those rules. Back then you could be arrested and put in gaol for 6 months for being lazy … not employed a vagrant. I went out and got work, I kept busy and I learned things. Today there is not good policing to make people work. The rules are too soft, children do not obey their parents and do not understand that they must work to earn money and to stay healthy.
I would like to see a police station at Blackstone, where the police kept law and order.
I do not like the idea of the intervention and the government taking control of the tjitji money. I think this will make things worse.