CANWA logo

Bush Babies in Goomalling

Bush Babies in Goomalling
By Steph Lamb
30 August 2015

Bush Babies Goomalling took the form of an intergenerational project called Goomalling Yarns - Stories from Koomal boodja. A partnership between CAN, the Goomalling Shire and the State Library of WA, the program combined hip hop songwriting, oral histories, photography, film and printmaking. Workshops in photo sharing, scrapbooking and family history research were also attended by more than eighty Goomalling community members who helped bring the town’s past back to life. Bush Babies Goomalling aimed to share the cultural significance of Goomalling and Noongar stories of the region with the broader community.

  • GY launch print size 83 web
  • GY launch print size 74 web
  • IHW 7451 web
  • IHW 7347 web
  • Goomalling 110 web
  • GY launch print size 50 web
  • Family canwa 7145 web

Senior community members shared historic photos and stories of when people were living in the bush, on reserves, in missions and on the outskirts of Goomalling since as early as 1925. More than 350 historic photos were identified in this process and uploaded to the WA State Library’s Storylines archive, where the Mavis Walley collection takes pride of place.

When Dallas Phillips turned up to a Bush Babies workshop with a chocolate tin of old photographic slides, she had no idea she was holding one of the most significant photographic collections of recent times. The tin contained more than 350 images taken by Dallas’s mother, Mavis Phillips (nee Walley), documenting the everyday life of Noongar families living in and around Goomalling. Historians at the State Library of WA described the Mavis Walley collection as one of the most important in its Storylines archive.

  • IMG 5014 2 web
  • Goomalling 24 July 296 web
  • Goomalling 24 July 250 web
  • Goomalling 24 July 081 web
  • IMG 6007 web
  • Goomalling 24 July 080 web
  • GY launch print size 86 web
  • GY launch print size 70 web
  • Goomalling 24 July 258 web
  • GY launch print size 65 web

But that was only one of the highlights of what was an incredible Bush Babies journey for many families in the region. Oral historians Bill Bunbury and Jemma King recorded the personal stories of twelve senior Noongar community members, which were then used to create a radio documentary.

Using these historic photographs and stories as inspiration, artist Scott ‘MC Optamus’ Griffiths worked with Goomalling’s young people to record a hip hop music track, Turn Back Time, which was accompanied by a behind the scenes documentary. With photographers Nat Brunovs and Mary Parker, the young people also documented the history of the town through photography workshops at significant cultural sites.

  • GY launch print size 53 web
  • IHW 7572 web
  • GY launch print size 101 web
  • GY launch print size 108 web
  • GY launch print size 78 web
  • DSC8628 2 web
  • GY launch print size 84 web

Senior community members used their photos and stories to create mix-media artworks with artists Poppy van Oorde-Grainger and Iris Guilmartin, which were included in the Goomalling Yarns - Stories from Koomal boodja oral history and hip hop CD package.


CAN Perth Head Office

Monday - Friday, 9am - 5pm

PO Box 7514 Cloisters Square WA 6850

King Street Arts Centre
Ground Floor 357-365 Murray St
Perth WA 6000

08 9226 2422

ABN: 72106364407

Connect with CAN