Continuing with mum's story of her life with the Women's Service Guilds.
Excerpt from "THE CLOCK OF TIME" by Gertrude Ruston (pp 121-123)
"MRS DAISY BATES C.B.E., J.P.: MEMORIAL FUND
One of the world's remarkable women, born in Ireland in 1860, came to Australia in 1884 and married a station owner named John Bates. Her only son was born in 1886. She returned to England in 1894 leaving her son in a boarding school here.
After spending about five years as a Fleet Street journalist she came back to Australia to investigate charges made in a London paper that Western Australian aborigines were being cruelly treated by white settlers. She carried out eight years of intensive research on behalf of the Western Australian Government, and, inevitably, came into contact with some of our leading women. Her travels took her to Port Hedland, Roebourne, Beagle Bay Mission (where she lived in a Trappist Monastery), meeting the various tribes and becoming their trusted friend. She sought to preserve their ancient way of life, their rituals and folklore, fearing that the arrival of white men would mean that their race would disappear.
She studied the Bibbulmun tribe of Perth and the south-west on a two year camping tour. She loved the nomadic life and wandered around pitching her tent anywhere, often on the edge of the desert. She went along the Great Australian Bight to Eucla, after selling her pastoral property for money with which to provide the aboriginal people with sugar, flour and tea.
If she heard of natives assembling anywhere she went by horse and buggy or on foot. All the tribes knew her, calling her Kabbarli (grandmother) and trusting her with the secrets of their most sacred rituals, and allowing her to witness ceremonies which were forbidden to their own women. They put sacred totems in her keeping. Many of them were cannibals and all administered their own justice with a spear or with death.
In her book "The Passing of the Aborigines" she said "there was no loneliness, one lived with trees, the rocks, the hills and the valleys, the verdure and the strange living things within and about them." Her notes, written laboriously in the confines of her tent are in the Australian National Archives.
She died near Adelaide on 19th March, 1951, having been a Justice of the Peace in South Australia. She was awarded the C.B.E., having been full of courage and an enigma to her own people, but a loving Kabbarli in the hearts of the aborigines.
A memorial fund was raised by the Women's Service Guilds to commemorate her work. The amount collected was £250, and it was invested to provide two prizes annually for aboriginal students, boy and girl.
In 1953 a new vessel for the North West Coast as named s.s. 'KABBARLI" in honour of Daisy Bates.
I helped to arrange the following plaque and was present when it was placed on the ship:-
"THIS VESSEL HAS BEEN NAMED 'KABBARLI', THE NATIVE NAME FOR MRS DAISY BATES, C.B.E., WHO DIED ON THE 19TH MARCH 1951, AGED 91, IN RECOGNITION BY THE GOVERNMENT OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA OF HER LIFELONG WORK IN THE INTEREST OF THE ABORIGINES'."
Details of her life have been recorded in the book *"REFLECTIONS" honouring 150 women who made notable contributions to Western Australia during its first 150 years of development since the arrival of the first white people from the United Kingdom.
The Memorial Fund is now in the hands of the aboriginal people, and the plague from the "Kabbarli" has been lodged in the Archives."
This is Mrs Daisy May Bates taken in Adelaide by Moore's Studio in 1936. It is held in the State Library of South Australia. (If you should want to learn more about Mrs Bates....it is quite an unusual story of a most unusual woman....you will find the information on the internet. I found it at abd.anu.edu.au/biography/bates-daisy-may-83)
My mother's name also appears in "Reflections".