Thursday 20th January 2022

Learning More About My Country, Australia. 11/2021.

Learning More About My Country, Australia. 11/2021.

As I write this post for sharing tomorrow, it is 26 January 2021, Australia Day. I ask that you read the highlighted areas below before going on.



Content within is about Indigenous Australians and there may be readers affected by images or references of people who have died. In this case, please be aware.

And, I appreciate content here may be for some readers, controversial or they may hold strong views which are not in keeping with the learning I am doing as I share. In this case, it is recommended that you do scroll on and perhaps not comment. I remind you that I can delete comments if not in keeping with my blog’s purpose. Thank you for your understanding. Denyse.



For much of my life, 26th January,  has been known to me as day of commemoration. It’s when a flotilla of English Boats led by Captain Arthur Phillip arrived in Sydney Harbour in 1788 and claimed it ‘as a territory of England’ …or words to that effect. The boats were manned by sailors and many had convicts aboard who would be prisoners in this colonial outpost of Mother England where gaols were filling. The stories of this are many, and I leave them to your research and interest.

What I have known for some time, however, is this. Australia’s east coast, where Captain Cook had landed in 1770 and declared it a place for habitation and settlement, was already populated.

There were indigenous Australians: Aboriginal people, had come from many places from the north, to make different parts of our wide brown land….home.

Today, 26 January 2021 I was delighted to see two flags representing Australia flying. We “still” do not have the best or perfect or representational flag but we do tend to see these two more and more.

Teacher Me Needs to Learn More.

Whilst I have known that I may have some Aboriginal heritage, and by appearance alone there are several members of my family, on Mum’s side who already could be claiming this. They are not. For their own reasons. Nothing by the way is verified as was often the case, because of the shame of Aboriginal heritage of yesteryear and the very real threat of children being taken ‘for their own good’ by church groups and welfare.

I have been, for the past few years, recognising my own likely heritage and wanting to learn more and accept what it is for me.

Books and Stories.

Many sites have books and resources. This is but one:

I have read and listened to books by Stan Grant, June Winch and Bruce Pascoe.

One by Anita Heiss is a compilation of Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia. Others by Dr Marcia Langton.

I found this site and then bought the map I show here.

And I liked what I could learn about here.

About My History.

From the AIATSIS Map: I am adding place names for where I have lived and taught, then the Aboriginal Country or land name next to it.

Born over 70 years ago, in Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia.

Wollongong 1949-1959. Tharawal country.


With “my’ Papa. It is his line of heritage that we believe is of Aboriginal descent. South Coast N.S.W.

Sydney: 1959-1969. Eora country.

Specifically: Balgowlah Heights, close to Manly, a first place named in the early days of the Colony for the Aboriginal Men’s appearance. Near my then home is Arrabanoo Lookout, named for an Aboriginal person. Right next to Tania Park, Dobroyd.

Barraba, 1970 North Western N.S.W.: Kamilaroi country.

Just up the road to school!

Maules Creek, Boggabri, 1971-1972.  North Western N.S.W.: Kamilaroi country.

Merriwagga, South Western N.S.W.1973-1975 & Hillston. Wiradjuri country.

Weilmoringle, Far North Western N.S.W. 1976-1977. Muruwari country.

Where Our Daughter Started School & we were her teachers.

Kellyville, north-western area of Sydney. 1978-1993. Bella Vista 1994-1998. Glenwood 1998-2015. Dharug Country

Schools where I taught and lead:

Cherrybrook P.S. 1978.

Jasper Road P.S. Baulkham Hills, 1978-1982.

Walters Road P.S. Blacktown,  1983-1984.

Seven Hills West P.S., 1985-1987.

Shalvey P.S. 1988-1998

Rooty Hill P.S. 1998

Richmond P.S. 1999-2003.

Kellyville Ridge P.S. 2004-2010.

Hebersham P.S. 2007

  • In each of the schools above there were and are, students of Aboriginal heritage and who identify as Aboriginal. The majority are from the schools I have marked by highlighting in black. The other schools would definitely have some but nowhere near the numbers from the others.


  • What is significant now, and even in some of the years I was a member of that school community is the identification of students and the assistance, where required given that can boost learning and more. There are likely to be people from the local indigenous groups working with students and staff in the school to have a better understanding of history, language and needs.


  • I assisted in the establishment of Aboriginal community groups within our local schools’ communities, supporting them as needed until independence was established. It meant the ownership and actions lay with the local community representatives.


  • Some of these people, through other agencies and groups, were appointed to school selection panels to approve employment of people in teaching and leading who were, by their estimation, deemed to have understanding of and commitment to the Aboriginal education policies of the employer.


  • In 1976-1977, Weilmoringle P.S. was already doing this. My husband, the teaching principal, and I was the second teacher and we had an Aboriginal person as teaching assistant. The community also helped us (as we did them) with cultural understanding, and more. Now, I see some decades later, the school continues to thrive and those same families are continuing to help the kids of the school, and their community.

Where We Live Now. Northern end of N.S.W. Central Coast. Darkinjung country.

I know something about the place where we live now. I know the first peoples used the river and the sea to feed themselves and the bush around them to have shelter. I know too, that I need to learn more and I am committed to doing so via more local research and understanding.

I think, as a senior Australian citizen, I not only want to do this but need to. Ignorance should no longer be an excuse.

I do not have a firm view on changing of the Australian flag at this point, as I see my English and Scottish history within. I would like the way in which we come together as Australians of all kinds to be inclusive and understanding. Will it happen in my life time? I am not sure. I know my daughter will be definitely hoping it happens in hers and that of her children.

I shall see.

I hope to be better educated.

We shall be respectful of each other as change occurs.

Have you noticed what I have written here at the base of my blog?

If you can see the areas on the maps, can you find, if you are from this area, where your country is and what it’s called?


Denyse wishes to acknowledge the Darkinjung people as Traditional Custodians of the land on which this blog is written.

Linking up with Leanne here for Lovin’ Life on Thursday.

Joining in with Weekend Coffee Share with Natalie here on the weekend.



  1. How interesting you may have Aboriginal heritage and perhaps how frustrating that you may never know. I’ve just order the Dark Emu book from the library this afternoon. I’ve read the version for young people (which I accidentally ordered). It’s remarkable how the primary sources of information quoted in the book clearly indicate the presence of agriculture in early Australia yet this was completely omitted in teaching when I was at school, and no doubt for a long time after. There is indeed much to learn.

    • Thanks Christine, it really IS something to learn more about and our daughter who is also a teacher and now Librarian (loves her research) has made some attempts to find verified information but as I intimated, often this information that could help us now, is not there.

      So I think at least try to feel how it might be, to remember how life was and could have been for these people (my relatives, and others) back in the time of The Stolen Generation.

      I listened to June Winch’s The Yield, and whilst the book was somewhat all over the place, in a way to bring present and past together, it helped me learn more.

      Just a few kilometres from where we lived in 1976-77, in remote country, we were told of a massacre of Aboriginal people which occured that sends shivers down your spin.

      We need to learn more for sure, and I will be continuing.

      The NSW curriculum has integrated Indigenous studies into many subject but my time away from schools now means I am not as well informed about curriculum as I was. I hasten to add, the conservative governments (Federal and State) resist some of these teachings.

      I hope we all can share greater compassion following understanding of ‘the stories’. Stan Grant tells amazing ones which are both scary (about conditions) and heartening about his life.


  2. That must be frustrating not knowing for sure about your indigenous heritage. There is so much I’m learning these days too and interestingly, when I had to study for my citizenship test, of course, none of this was included! I’ve been doing a cultural competency course at work and it’s been enlightening and heartbreaking. This is after I’ve done a fair bit of education even while working in health and just reading my own stuff. I think we are always learning but yes, this land always was and always will be aboriginal land.

    • It is but I leave it now to my daughter who loves research and family heritage to continue.

      She arranged for a local Aboriginal elder and war veteren to dedicate her new (then) school’s grounds, A.N.Z.A.C. memorial and share much of the history that his community knows about the area of the school in Kellyville. She is doing a great job there and given her history of beginning school in a school within an Aboriginal community, she loves it.

      It could not have been mentioned while my mother was alive but we have raised it with Dad and there are family physical features we see but no-one is wanting to connect with their possible Aboriginal heritage as far as I am aware.

      Good to know it is included in all you do for your work. I agree, we are always learning!

      Thanks for what you do to share as well, Sanch.


  3. Lots to love here Denyse! You say it very well. I like the way you’ve gone through where you’ve lived and worked and noted the Indigenous names of these areas. Our family has been traced back and we also have Aboriginal bloodlines but a fair way back. I do believe my colouring is a result of this history. I agree ignorance is no longer an excuse.

    • Thanks Deb! Yes, my Mum had your colouring as do others I won’t name but how sad it is really that it is a place of shame and not wanting to share.

      By opening up a conversation here on the blog it is a beginning!

      Paying greater respect to the past and current owners of our lands is a start.


  4. I used to work in Indigenous family history research for a number of years. I don’t often talk about it as it’s not my story/ies to tell. But the restricted records I read for years certainly painted a picture that is not the publicly taught story.

    • Oh my goodness that would have been fascinating but also heartbreaking too I imagine, Vanessa.

      I would like to know more but will leave it to my teacher-librarian/archivist daughter who remains keen to keep up the research.

      There are many oral and written histories from where we used to teach and the Brewarrina community is keeping that updated.

      The school where we taught continues to education the kids about their history and use many of the elders to do so. Over 45 years ago we did what we could but then it was education via our system.

      Thanks for sharing your experience.

  5. I had noticed your comment about acknowledging aboriginal lands in the sidebar of your blog previously. Thank you for sharing more in your post. Ever the Educator, Ever the Learner! I think there are certainly parallels with the United States and the first inhabitants, that many do not acknowledge. But I say that with caution, not wanting to take away from anything you have written. But it is clear that this is important to you. Thank you for entrusting this to relative strangers, blogging friends. Even if you don’t get all the answers that you seek, you are investing in learning and sharing what you learn, so that is rich. Thanks and blessings, Michele

    • Michele,
      How very insightful you are.

      yes indeed I think that now by having this blog I am finally able to say more about what matters in my life. One thing, way back was about my story of being overweight for many years. I finally admitted what that was about….and now this.

      It’s a thinking and saying space having a blog and now through responses such as yours I remain confident of going ahead with more that I need to say.

      I am so very glad you have found this blog of mine and we are connecting meaningfully!

      Thanks so much,


  6. How interesting. I have never been to Australia, but I do follow several bloggers from Australia with great interest, and of course I am a big fan of the series McClouds Daughter’s.

    • Thanks Maria, I am glad you found this post of interest.

      Australian bloggers are indeed part of my community and now since becoming connected to new link ups I meet new bloggers from other countries.

      I am glad you liked the series McClouds Daughters. Bringing Australia to the world with our stories.


  7. Denyse, I did notice your acknowledgment on the lower right of your blog. Good for you to continue learning and want to become better educated on Aboriginal / Indigenous history and culture. Thank you for sharing your story and photos with us. #weekendcoffeeshare

    • Thanks Natalie, yes I could no longer be someone who did not share the stories because “someone may not like them”.

      Moving towards fear (of criticism or negativity) is something humans resist to stay safe but it rarely does us good, so I am using my space here to discover for myself, and hopefully educate others.

      I use my blog for good!!

      Thanks so much for the link up. It’s very well supported.


  8. This was a very interesting read. I have lots to learn about Australia, and especially about the indigenous people. My knowledge about Australia is mainly about the wildlife, nature, bushfires, lovely people I’ve met, and some about how Irish people were shipped over as prisoners or workers during the British rule. Thanks for sharing this, I’ll definitely visit the links you shared too.

    • Thank you so much Susanne, good to read of your knowledge to date about Australia. We sure do have mixed up stories of heritage and over time I do hope the leaders of this country can make it right.


  9. Hi Denyse,
    Back again for more coffee! I was interested to read your views about Australia Day. I touched on it in my coffee share post, but am more down the “Invasion Day” path these days.
    My aunt, Dr Anna Haebich, wrote the national history of the Stolen Generation: “Broken Circles” which won many awards and we’re very proud of her. Her husband, Darryl KIckett, is a Noongar man from WA and in 2013 he was awarded the NAIDOC Person of the Year.
    My kids thought we were Aboriginal because of Uncle Darryl, and were very proud of that. This left me having to explain genetics and it was so weird because my kids couldn’t see the physical likeness to my aunt who looks so much like my mum, and it was like they were completely colour blind, which really touched our hearts and by jove we wished there was so much more of that!!
    I’m very passionate about my family history research and I was researching my ancestor Bridget Donovan who was an Irish Famine Orphan, when I was contacted to let me know that two of her sons married Indigenous women and one of them was living in the Yass Black camp as it was known. I’d really like to touch base with this side of my family but my attempts to date have gone nowhere.
    I’ve studied history at honours level at uni and I’ve been keeping my interest going. Whjat strikes me about how I was taught history growing up, is that you could all but eliminate the Aboriginal people from the story of Australian history. NOw, at least, some of us are trying to put them back in
    I hope you have a great week ahead. I went for a swim yesterday and really loved it. That post is just before my coffee share. .
    Best wishes,

    • Oh wow, great to read this too about your family and research Rowena.

      I am pretty sure my daughter would like to get stuck into more of this as she so enjoys her teacher librarian role and has been helping in a volunteer position with the Sydney Jewish Museum.

      However, this year she has accepted the opportunity to be an Assistant Principal, be back on class and leading a group of teachers too. I doubt she will have time for much more…as life is very busy in her world.

      So glad we have connected.


  10. In the U.S. some people are outraged that history is being revised and taken away. But I disagree, I think adding nuance and different perspectives makes me understand and appreciate a subject I always longed found to be dry, boring, and repetitive. U.S. history should not start the moment the pilgrims arrived, Native Americans have long been there and I believe we should acknowledge the terrible things colonists have done to take away their land. Recently they just confirmed they’ll be changing the $20 bill from Andrew Jackson, the 7th President of the U.S., to Harriet Tubman, an abolitionist and Union Spy.

    As a Filipino-American, I found it odd to that the Philippines was “discovered” by the Spaniards in the 1500s. Did history just begin in the 1500s all across the world except for Europe and China? Of course not — there has always been people living in all places! Their history was reframed to be Western-centric and sanitized. Anyways, I learned the Phillippines had a thriving society (and beautiful writing system I must add) before the colonists arrived.

    • So so good to read of your perspective and understanding of how this history thing can get muddles, abandoned and then re-written to suit purpose!!

      Thanks so much Julie for sharing this. We all need to question more and accept changes we may not be comfortable with, but alas many leaders of the white-led nations (like ours!) are more conservative than ever. Sigh.

      If I may add a generalisation but for me a truism. In my head and neck cancer story (it’s on the blog if you ever want to read) two nurses from the Philippines (my spelling?) – a cancer surgical nurse and my prosthodontist nurse – were the kindest and most caring people I knew. I was so fortunate to have them look after me.


  11. I think it’s so important we take the time to learn about the traditional owners of the country we live in. There’s so much to learn.

    • I was very impressed with the tour you took when you were in Hervey Bay.

      It really means widening our formerly narrowing views of our country doesn’t it, Jo?

      Thanks for sharing your post about that on your blog.


  12. I loved the The Endeavour Voyage Exhibition at the National Museum of Australia depicting that there’s two sides to every story. Seeing it from the ship and seeing it from the shore was a big eye opener.