Community Conversations: Carol Petterson
This month’s interview is with Carol Pettersen, one of seventeen siblings from the renowned Gray family who have enjoyed an enduring connection with Jerramungup since the 1940’s. Carol is a Menang Gnudju elder who has spent her life advocating for Aboriginal people and was recently awarded an Order of Australia for her service to the indigenous community of Western Australia. Carol also received the 2008 National NAIDOC award. and an international Indigenous Award from National Society of Ethnobiology, in Montreal Canada for a paper she wrote on Indigenous caring for country.
In the interview Carol reflects on the early days and the adventures and challenges of living in a time when it was illegal for a non-aboriginal man to marry or have a sexual relationship with an aboriginal woman. Carol talks about the original name of Yarra-mo-up “Place of the Tall Yate Trees’ and her family’s early experiences taking sheep from the Hassell station along the Gairdner River via Quaalup to Doubtful Bay using the inland freshwater wells along the way.
She fondly remembers their cart horse Duchess who would look around to ensure the then 5 siblings were safely on her back before plodding around the fields with them. She remembers the big shearing shed in Doubtful Bay and the ships rolling into the bay to move the wool. She also remembers the rhythm and vibe of the Hassell shearing sheds with everyone working together and helping each other out.
Carol recalls the role her family played in clearing weeds, root picking, stone picking and fencing and fondly remembers their connection with the early war settlers. She hopes that Jerramungup thrives into the future as a loving and caring community where everyone supports each other and would like to see a venue where their stories can be shared.
Carol believes that reconciliation is best achieved through story-telling and acknowledging the important contribution that Noongar people played in the establishment of the Shire.
Listen to the full interview below.