Bush Babies Bunbury followed the story of Charles Hill and his wife Rachael Abraham (both deceased), who boldly embarked on a journey from the Wheatbelt town of Pingelly to their ancestral homelands in the Southwest, seeking a better and fairer life with their fourteen children. Instead, the family endured incredible hardships, from living under a bridge, to a cold cattle shed, to eventually setting up camp on a farmer’s old gravel pit.
There were many babies delivered during this time, mostly by senior women in the family who were midwives. Their grandmother, Rachael, would be in her sixties before the Government provided them with a house at the Waterloo Reserve. It was the first time the family experienced running water, rooms with doors or even a toilet.
In this intergenerational arts and storytelling workshop program, CAN worked with the descendents of the Hill, Bennell and Collard families to celebrate and honour the journey of the ‘Gravel Pit Mob’.
To capture the overarching family story, the participants identified 12 locations that held significant meaning and many personal memories. These locations tell the story of their families’ journey away from racism, oppression and government policies related to the Stolen Generation.
CAN also ran eco-dyeing, textile (rug making) and photo-sharing workshops where the families came together to create handmade baby blankets. These beautiful keepsakes tell their stories, decorated with fabric prints of past and present family photos and memorabilia.
The families and CAN then embarked on a two-day family reunion to visit each location with a professional photographer who documented the journey. Oral history recordings and a stunning collection of images of family members at each 12 locations were taken.
With these stories and images CAN produced a digital and print publication, The gravel pit - our stories. Family footprints from Burekup to Bunbury to share the history of Charles, Rachael and their descendants’ journeys from the gravel pit to the present day.