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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

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Gelbayn Hill (Mabel Downs), 2018

by Shirley Purdie

“This story for when my mum, aunty and my grandmother, and a school teacher – that gardiya (white) woman, they bin take (her) up there. And they reckon when she been laying down under one of the tree, she bin get all them kangaroo ticks – he a big one, that kangaroo tick, he make you sore and you gotta pull him out. All this lot (my family) picked them out of her. She was red after that.”

Gelbayn Hill is a large hill in present day Mabel Downs. Shirley’s family would often spend leisure time there, and on this occasion, her mother, aunt, and grand-aunt (also referred to as a grandmother) took a school teacher for a visit. The hill is special to Gija people because it is a special burial site; in the past, when the Gija people who lived there died, their remains were wrapped in paperbark and placed in a nearby cave.

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

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