Wednesday, 2 January 2013


I watched Australia the movie last afternoon, on New Year's Day. It was sad. I had watched Green Eyes the  US movie of the post-Vietnam war, but this one was even more sad. Australia featured the kidnapping of Aboriginal children who were fathered by white men, and therefore had features midway between a White Australian and an Aborigine (Abo). These kids often had curly or wavy golden hair or in between. That era when such children of mixed descent or better known as half caste were snatched from their families, began in 1869 and ended in 1969, but some went on till the 1980s.

I was in Australia from 1985 to 1989 and I saw some of the Abo children and families in the parks. They are distinct from the White Australians. I was aware of the child kidnapping that had occurred but it didn't occur to me at the time that the whole thing had a devastating psychological impact on both the children and the families that had lost their children. It is a relief to read last night that these kidnapped children were reunited with their families when they turned 25-30 years old. However, accounts of these grown-up half caste Abos are sad, especially about their inability to speak their respective native Abo language, and they were alien to their own customs and culture. It was really sad to read these accounts coming from the snatched half caste Abo children.

In Australia the movie, I was attracted to the names in the credit lines. I saw the names Billy Aziz and Jamil Hediger. Tonight I read the name Mark bin Aziz in a Wikipedia write-up of the movie. Ring a bell? These are Malay names! They are my people too! How did they get to be involved in the movie?

I have not Googled Gondwana Voices yet. They must be the children's voices singing in the background.

The setting in Darwin between 1939 and 1940s during WWII is good. I have heard The Northern Territory was attacked by the Japanese during WWII but I have not been to Darwin so I can't comment any further.

I enjoyed listening to the dialogue which was not so Australian sounding. Nullah (Brandon Walters) was such a great sport. He's such a hero, even my husband thought he's great. I think this movie became box office because it had Brandon, and not because it starred Australia's best actress and actor, Nicole Kidman and Jackman. However, Nullah's dialogue didn't sound Australian or Abo. He seemed to be conscious that his speech was affected and not fluent or seemed to be held back. I read that it was his first time being featured in an Australian movie. He did great anyway. I hope he will be featured in Australian movies to come. He's a great asset for the Abo people and Australia.

Sometimes I wonder whether the Abo people speak any amount of Malay words, especially if they are from around Broome and have contact with the Malay pearl divers there. I heard the words "walkabout" and "billabong" (dead river, sungai mati). But I only came across the word "outback" in the Wikipedia write-up. When I lived in Australia, billabong was sang in the song Waltzing Matilda. I often heard the words outback or bush, tucker and taa on TV. I didn't hear the words bush, tucker and taa in this movie and I'm wondering why. It would be nice to have Australian words and slang in the dialogues since this movie was about Abo life in Australia, and the 3 stars are all Australians.

King George, the grandfather of Nullah is a common feature in Malay storytelling too. He didn't appear much in this movie except for when he called out to Nullah for his safety. He was featured as a shriveled man in full Abo costume. He seems very weak and his calling to Nullah also seemed feeble which got me worried.

My father also mentioned a "King George" who was his granduncle but he was named as such since he kept his beard that resembled that of King George V. Was there a King George in Great Britain? I don't know. But King George is a likeable name in Malay storytelling and it is by no coincidence.

I had watched many Australian TV series as a child and I remember the song Tie Me Down Kangaroo Spot etc which featured the Australian flying doctors. I remember my mother once told me that the Abo blow their didgeridoo to call on people. The didgeridoo tune puts a person in a trance and the person follows every order of the Abo chanter. It was scary to learn about this magic of the Abo.

Broome is where the Malays have set up their second home in the pearl industry. The Malay men were expert pearl divers, that's what I learned from my mother and from my geography lessons.

The real aim of the Stolen Generation is multifaceted. I read a few articles about it and came to realise that the theme of ethnic cleansing is a recurrent theme anywhere where the White men settlers have set foot.

I was reading about the cameleers of central Australia and also the Afghans and their camels. I have traveled across Australia from Adelaide to Perth by train. It took 3 days to cross the Australian Desert by train with my husband, daughter and son. We almost ran out of drinking water. The desert was bare except for the thorny desert weed. There was only one stop at one small station. I liked the trip but I certainly did not like the train - it was smelling bad after a day.

When I first arrived in Sydney, I stayed at the International Students' Hostel. I was also shown the Abo homes built by the Australian government but these homes had no occupants. They were empty because the Abo families preferred to live in the outback rather than homes. I don't blame them. We have the same situation here.

I would love to visit Broome one day and see the Malay people there.

Abo music and art are great items. I have seen the didgeridoos and they are surely long. I have seen the water holes where the Abo people collect drinking water. They are very different from the Orang Asli we have here.