It was a very foggy day when I met up with Lisa to record her story.
Previously, I was told and I read a lot about the spiritual connection with the Land, yet only that day I was truly able to witness it and understand its meaning. In five years since I have been at my local school, I have never seen one single black cockatoo. Yet when we met, there were so many of them. They all flew above us, as we were walking through the mist and Lisa was telling me that her totem animal is the Emu.
I asked Lisa to share with me her ancestry.
Lisa’ s lineage is very complex and it comes from the Eora (mother), Gamilaraay/Kamilaroi (great great parent), Urallyie (father) and Malingarie (grandfather) people.
Our youngest children have been best friends since preschool and we became friends too. The first things I noticed about Lisa were her smile and the fact that she always had a good word for everyone. She calls me sister, for which I feel incredibly honoured.
As we spent time together, we discovered a mutually shared passion for arts and for nature walks. Sharing ideas from recent artworks we made, we found many similarities between the Indigenous and the traditional Romanian art. Upon parting that day, we agreed to work on a collaborative piece in the near future, combining techniques, ideas and symbols from two ancient cultures that are so different, yet so similar.
- “When I was a young child, I wanted to become a Vet. I wanted to work with animals but it didn’t happen; I soon realised I couldn’t deal with the harsh side of the job. I couldn’t put them down; I wanted to keep them all alive; I couldn’t bring myself to take a life.
My first favourite story is a Dreamtime story about how the emu got her feathers and why she cannot fly. I would have been around 9 or 10 years of age by then and we were sitting around the fire at an aboriginal camp, roasting marshmallows and potatoes. I loved hearing this story. Then I found out that she was my totem animal.
When I came out of high school, I wanted to travel the Land and learn about my culture, my people and about the language that was denied to us back then. A lot of it was lost, unfortunately.
My dream was to be a journalist and to work in broadcast. I have been doing radio programs since I was 12 years old. My mother moved to Canberra for work and that’s when she met my step father. He introduced me to broadcasting and Indigenous media and taught me the ins and outs of radio.
Who I am now? I am a single mother of five, a proud Indigenous woman and a daughter.
I am an artist connecting with the others through my art. I love to tell the world about our culture. I am still learning about the language and the culture myself and I will probably always be learning.
I once was an actor too; before I had my children, I did several feature films, a mini-series and documentaries.
I am a person very connected to nature; I used to be a Discovery Ranger in Sydney at the Royal National park and a Visitor Service Officer with Parks and Wildlife at Nelson Bay.
In the future, I would like to work here at Tidbinbilla; I was just about to start working with them, but at the moment I am the full-time carer for my mother.
I love being an artist and I enjoy exploring many artistic directions, trying to learn and to understand my potential. I paint, I love sketching, making designs and decorative art, I do ceramics and sewing. Last year I have enrolled in an Art Program at CIT’s Yurauna Centre. Now my eldest daughter is studying there as well. She is very talented and I am so proud to see her achievements.
I do like who I am in life. I recently had to slow down a bit, being a carer, but I enjoy it.
I have to give my time to my family, as they come first.
- My innermost dream is to see all my five children succeed and be successful in anything they chose to be in life. I want to be there to support them, as well as enjoy their success. I have a few dreams actually – I would really like to find love again and give my children that father they would like to have. My son keeps telling me he wants a father – I tell him he has to wait for now. I want to be able to look after my entire family and country and to live a healthy life. My other dream is to be able to travel and learn as much as I can from other cultures. I love sharing our Indigenous stories but at the same time, I want to meet people from all walks of life and listen to their stories as well. There are so many people coming to Australia, travelling, but I would like to go to their countries, learn about their Land.
My children and my family keep me going. They motivate me in everything I do. Meeting nice people and being happy with the human race is also a good motivation.
The most important motivator of all is Spirituality, the Creator of Earth who made us, the humans and the Land. The Land is our mother, the Sky is our father – that goes from way, way back in the Dream Time. I believe in protecting all creatures, great or small; we are the guardians and we need to protect them. That’s why we Indigenous people are the carers of the Land. We are just passing through, doing our deeds, looking after them.
If I ever had 15 minutes of fame, that’s how I would use it; to protect the Land.
In five years’ time, I see myself hopefully married and happy, maybe even with some grandchildren on my side. I will still be sharing stories, still learning. I would still be meeting positive people; I don’t like being around negative energy. I will be still the same – keep on smiling, being healthy and eating the right food; I would go walkabout, learning more about my culture, learning how to live off the land more, hunting and fishing.
- The first role models I had were my mother, my aunties and the Elders. They brought me up and taught me how to live a good life. Especially my mother – she has been through so much in life, yet she held her own. In a way, my step father was a role model too – he filled the father figure gap for me. But then I got to see the other side of him too, which wasn’t a good one. Unfortunately, I learned about domestic violence at an early age. – there is very little said about domestic violence and I think that’s not good enough. I think we have to talk about these things; it has to be heard because nothing will change if we don’t speak up.
Nowadays, my children are my role models. They have changed me and my life for the better. I learn a lot from them; they are the first ones to tell me when I am wrong. I am also inspired by people who had a hard upbringing but become successful and turned their life around and have a great career. I look up to people like Dolly Parton or Elvis – they did something with their life.
My favourite stories are the stories of other people. I love hearing their tales – they are living stories. Their survival and their journey through life - that’s what inspires me. Their legacy - those are the people that are strong, the people who survive through hardship, domestic violence and abuse and then succeed in life.
My biggest regret in life is choosing the wrong man to be my children’s father. He put me through a lot of violence and I had to put a stop to it in the end. Never again will I go down that road in life. No women or men or children should go through this. You should break the chains and set yourself free.
I feel at peace when I am with the Land and the good people and when I am near the water – the sea, the rivers or the waterfalls.
If I had to define myself in one world, it would be “unifier”. I am a person that unites others and gathers strength from everything and everyone around.
Both success and failure motivate me equally. If I fail, then there is a lesson, I learn and I move on but I think it’s important to have success in one’s life too; I pick myself up on my feet and keep going. If one gets knocked down too much, that’s not good. It becomes hard to keep motivated but it helps when you keep positive about it; you start a brand-new day and know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.