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Walgar, Monty (1944–?)

PUBLICATION: Monty Walgar, Jinangga: On the Tracks, as told to Cloud Shabalah,Magabala Books Aboriginal Corporation, 1999

SEX: Male

BIRTH DATE: August 14, 1944

BIRTH PLACE: Byro Station (WA)

FIRST LANGUAGE: Wajarri, English

SIGNIFICANT LOCALITIES:

  • Byro Station: Where Monty’s parents met, and where he was born.
  • Peak Hill, Horsehoe mine, Manfred, Milly Milly, Beringarra, Glenburgh and Dairy Creek: The stations that Monty’s parents used to travel between, by mail truck, to live and work. (pp.11-12))...We moved around a lot, from station to station.” (pp.13-14)
  • Pingrove Station: Where Monty’s older brothers Alf and Archer started working when he was young, and his mother Edith followed. (p.15)
  • Mullewa Reserve: Where Edith was sent to live by the Native Welfare authorities, so that Monty and his siblings could attend school. (p.18)
  • Boolardy Station: Where Monty’s family moved after his father died when he was four. (p.10)
  • Austin Downs: Where Monty’s ancestor, the Dongara, painted rock art. (p.8)
  • Tardun Mission: A boarding school established by the Catholic Pallottine Order, where Monty was taken in 1954 against his mother’s will. Monty stayed at Tardun for four years, and attempted to escape once. (p.33)
  • Yagloo Station: Where Monty’s mother lived when he left Tardun station, and where he returned for holidays. (p. 75)
  • Meeka, Boolardy Yagloo, Carlaminda and Coodardy station: Where Monty worked when he left the Tardun Mission. (pp.41-51)
  • Mt Magnet: Monty got a job at Anketell Station when he got “itchy feet” and wanted to move out of his immediate region (p.59)
  • Ninghan: Where Monty worked for the McPherson until he returned to Yagloo in 1965. (p.75)
  • Perth: When Monty was in Geraldton hospital with pneumonia, and his nephew convinced him to go into rehab, he asked him to send him to Perth. (p.121) Monty thought he would have less pressure to drink in Perth, however he ended up living in the Fremantle rubbish tip, and then being put in prison again. (p.122)

EXPERIENCES OF EDUCATION:

  • When they were living at Pinegrove, Monty and his siblings received some education from the station cook.
  • The Welfare authorities visited Edith at Pingrove and forced her to move to the Mullewa Reserve, so that Monty and his siblings could attend school. (p.15)
  • Monty went to school every day in Mullewa, except when ill. (p.17) He enjoyed learning and playing sport, and was particularly good at athletics. (p.20)

EXPERIENCES OF EMPLOYMENT:

  • When Monty lived at the Tardun mission he was sent to the farm to work as a rouseabout in a shearing shed and also helped with the harvest. (p.33)
  • Monty left Tardun station when he was 14 and started work as a jackeroo at Meeka Station. (p.41) When they left Meeka station he took a job mustering with his brother Alf, until the work ran out and he was made redundant. (p.42)
  • Monty then work as a musterer and general station worker at Meeka, Boolardy Yagloo, Carlaminda and Coodardy stations, before he got “itchy feet” and moved to Mt Magnet.(p.59)
  • Monty left Mt Magnet with his partner Carol when the Native Welfare Department got him a job in Ninghan for Mr McPherson. McPherson was an understanding and accepting employer, and Monty and Carol were happy at Ninghan. (p.66-67)
  • Monty then returned to Yalgoo and got a job as a labourer for the Yagloo Shire Council. (p.77) Monty had an accident in the truck while under the influence of alcohol, and ended up in prison for three months. (p.78) While Monty was offered his position at the shire when he was released, he refused because felt he had let his employers down. (p.82)
  • In 1967 Monty started working as part of a gang building railways. (p.82)
  • Monty then got a job mustering cattle on the Canning Stock Route for Robert Lot. Robert deceived Monty multiple times, and he ended up having to visit the Native Welfare Department in Perth in search of work. (pp.93-98) Monty expressed his pride in the fact that he always applied to the Native Welfare Department for employment rather than charity.
  • Monty moved to Carnarvon in 1969. He working on the stations, mustering and shearing, and only came into town to drink. (p.100)
  • In 1975, Monty got a job working for the Carnarvon Shire Council. (p.110)
  • Later, Monty lived on his pension. In 1993, after he had given up alcohol, Monty decided to look for work again to supplement his welfare benefits. He found work at the Gonsell Museum, teaching children about Aboriginal culture. Monty considered his new job both intrinsically and strategically important: not only was he passing on important information, he was also keeping himself busy and away from alcohol. (p.131)

EXPERIENCES OF RELIGION:

  • Monty describes the Wajarri peoples’ religious belief, which he asserts existed long before Christianity was introduced and continues today. (p.1)
  • Monty claims that Walgar beliefs are based on interpreting natural signs and learning “to cope with the nature of this country.” (p.2) Monty considers willy wags or crows to be portentous omens, sent from an earth mother.
  • Monty also describes the water serpent named Wagyl, who protects the waterways for them. Monty learned to fear Wagyl, and to throw dirt on the bank to warn him when collecting water. (pp.1-2)
  • Monty claims to have always been a Christian, despite not having attended church before he went to the Tardun Mission.

IMPORTANT INSTITUTIONS:

  • Native Welfare: When they were living at Pinegrove, the Welfare authorities encouraged Edith to send Monty and his siblings to school, and to take up gainful employment. (p.15) Monty described the Native Welfare as omniscient and controlling organization, and recalls his family fleeing for fear they would be sent to a mission. (pp.15-16)
  • Having forced them to move to Mullewa Reserve, the Native Welfare then forced Edith to send Monty to Tardun Mission in 1954.
  • The Native Welfare Department got Monty a job at Ninghan Station, and paid for his travel to get there. (pp.65-66)
  • Mullewa Police: The police used to lecture, walk home, or even lock up any Aboriginal people that had not returned to the Mullewa Reserve by 6pm. Monty describes the fear of the police that held by many Aboriginal people.  (pp.23-24)
  • Geraldton Prison: Where Monty spent a period of five month, nine months, three month and two months for drunken violence, and resisting arrest. (pp.84-85, 95, 102)
  • Royal Flying Doctor: When Monty had an accident while intoxicated, the Royal Flying Doctor flew him from Carnarvon to Perth. (p.118)
  • Royal Perth Hospital: Where Monty spent two months recovering from his accident. (p.118)
  • Shenton Park Rehabilitation Centre: After three month in hospital in Perth, Monty was moved to the Shenton Park Rehabilitation Centre. He was disappointed that his family didn’t visit. (p.118)
  • Geraldton Hospital: Where Monty went when he had pneumonia, as a result of too much drinking and sleeping outdoors. (p.119)
  • Aston Hospital: Monty was sent to Aston Hospital in Perth, because he wanted to go somewhere to recover where he didn’t have the social pressure to drink.
  • Monty spent 22 days at Aston Hospital, and for the first time, he seriously attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. (p.121) Monty relapsed twice, and was sent back to Aston twice. (p.121)
  • Alcoholic Anonymous (AA): Monty had attended AA numerous times throughout his life as a alcoholic. It was only when he moved to Perth, and became friends with Ben Taylor, that he began to take AA seriously.
  • Bennelong Haven, Sydney: Monty visited Bennelong Haven for three of four months after going in and out of alcohol rehabilitation centres in Perth.
  • Homeswest: Monty applied to Homeswest housing for accommodation when he returned from Sydney, but he applications was unsuccessful. Monty visited the Homeswest offices every month until they found him a two bedroom unit in the suburb of Lockridge. This new accommodation aided Monty’s effort to turn his life around. (p.126)
  • In 1990 Homeswest offered Monty a duplex in Bayswater. He turned it down because it only had one bedroom, and so they offered him a place at Lockridge with two. (p.131)
  • St Vincent De Paul: When he sobered up and was living in Lockridge, Monty began doing volunteer work for St Vincent De Paul. (pp.126-127)

SALIENT LAWS AND POLICIES:

  • When Monty lived at the Mullewa Reserve, he and his family had to observe the law that forbade them from being in town after 6pm.
  • Aboriginals were not legally allowed into pubs in Western Australia 1966. Monty describes how they used to have “booze-ups” in the bush in 1960. (pp.44-45) Monty recalls that he got the right to drink in 1966, however the publisher of Jinangga notes that Aboriginal people had been allowed to consume alcohol since 1964, although restriction remained in certain areas until 1972. (p.77)

PHYSICAL AND MENTAL HEALTH:

  • Monty had had trouble with his ear since he was an infant. When he was twelve, he developed a debilitating and dangerous cyst in his ear and was taken to the Princess Margaret Children’s Hospital. (p.123)

RELATIONSHIP WITH PARENTS:

  • Edith Jones: Edith was a domestic worker on stations at Byro Station. (p.5) Edith used to help Monty’s father treating kangaroo skins and working, was a good bareback rider. (p.6) Edith had Monty when she was 35, and she had ten children in total, excluding “a few miscarriages” but including two infant deaths. (p.8)
  • After Monty’s father died, Edith moved the family to Pinegrove, and later built them a camp near the Mullewa reserve. Edith liked to gamble, but did not do it frequently, and worked hard to support her children. (p.23)
  • Monty moved to live his mother at many points in his adult life. Monty was surprised and saddened by Edith’s death in 1977, which happened while Monty was recovering from his accident at the Shenton Rehabilitation Centre.
  • Monty’s father was a farm labourer at Byro Station, who died of pneumonia and bronchitis when he was four. (pp.8-10) Monty describes his father as a skilled and hardworking horseman, mechanic, and repairman who used to make extra money making hats and belts out of kangaroo skins. (pp.9, 14)
  • Monty remember him loving and playful father.

RELATIONSHIP WITH PARTNERS:

  • Carol Steward: Monty met Carol Steward, who was one of the domestic staff working at Anketell Station, and fell in love. (pp.60-61) Edith objected to the marriage, and Carol was of Wanmala rather than the Wajarri tribe. (p.61)
  • Monty rejected his mother’s advice, and continued to travel and live with Carol, and they moved to Ninghan together.
  • Carol stayed with Monty while he was imprisoned several times, and when he became violent towards her. (p.84)
  • Monty eventually convinced Carol that he was an unreformable alcoholic, and that she look for someone new. When Monty met Carol’s new partner, he wished them well, and made him promise to look after her. (p.91)
  • Violet: Monty’s cousin’s wife, who he had an affair with while working near Carnarvon. (p.109) While Monty tried to convince not to, Violent left his cousin and they began to live together. (p.109) Violet and Monty fought and drank together. (p.110)
  • Violet was living with Monty’s mother in Carnarvon in 1975, when he got a job working for the Shire Council. (p.110) Monty reports that while he was working, Violet began staying out late and drinking. He then discovered that she was having an affair with a white policeman who was an ex-boyfriend of hers. Monty felt that the police man was taking advantage of Violet and other Aboriginal women, and so he challenged him to a fight and ended up being arrested again. (p.111)

RELATIONSHIP WITH CHILDREN:

  • N/A

IMPORTANT/INFLUENTIAL FIGURES:

  • “Old Badger Clarke”: Edith’s employer at Pinegrove.
  • Brother Stephen: One of the Catholic missionaries who ran the Tardun Mission farm, where Monty used to work. Unlike the other Brothers who were strict and punitive, Brother Stephen was kind to Monty.
  • Joan Morissey: A divorcee who was Monty’s employer at Anketell Station, Mount Margaret. Monty became quite close with Joan, and she offer to throw his a party if he and Carol Steward decided to get married. (p.61)
  • Lindsey and Margaret McPherson: Monty’s employers at Ninghan. (pp.67-68) The McPhersons were kind to Monty, and he spent time in their home, and Carol stayed with them while them was away mustering. (p.68)
  • Lindsay forgave Monty when he took the truck without asking and damaged it, and paid the bail money to get him out of prison following a fight. (p.73)
  • When Monty left Ninghan and went back to Yagloo in 1965, Lindsey offered him a position if ever he returned. (p.73)
  • Len Hannings: Monty’s employer at the Yagloo Shire Council. Len was a good employer, and he bought Monty his first drink in a hotel. (p.77) When he had an accident while driving a shire vehicle, Len blamed himself for giving Monty the keys when he knew he was under the influence of alcohol.  (p.81) Len offered Monty his job back when he was released from prison following the accident, but Monty refused it. (p.82)
  • Robert Lot: Employed Monty to muster cattle on the Canning Stock Route. Monty and his team were unable to collect the cattle, and Robert didn’t pay them.
  • Robert offered Monty another job when he was released from Geraldton prison on charged of assaulting a police officer. Robert promised Monty a share of the profit of the ‘clean skins’ (unmarked cattle), but again he reneged on this deal. (p.98)
  • Monty tells how Robert then destroyed a squatters' fence to tow a broken car, and then resold the malfunctioning car. Monty discovered Robert also owed money to his landlord, and he was soon imprisoned. (p.99)
  • Raymond Dam: Monty’s nephew, who came to visit him while he was in Geraldton hospital with pneumonia. Raymond warned his uncle that he was “killing himself” with alcohol. (p.120) Monty called his nephew a hypocrite, but eventually conceded that he was right. (p.121)
  • Ben Taylor: Monty met Ben while at the Quo Vadis rehabilitation centre, and they became close friends.  Ben recommended that Monty go to the Bennelong Rehabilitation centre. When he moved back to Perth, Monty moved down the road from Ben, and he provided him support to stay sober. (pp.123-125)

PREOCCUPATIONS:

Station, reserve and mission life:

  • Monty described the conditions for Aboriginal people on the seven different stations that his parent lived and work: Peak Hill, Horsehoe mine, Manfred, Milly Milly, Beringarra, Glenburgh and Dairy Creek . (p.11) This included living in self-made tents, playing with white children, hunting, going to the races.
  • Monty also remembers life on the Mullewa Reserve, where the Native Welfare forced his mother to live so her children could attend school. (p.17) Edith found the reserve too crowded, and so she set up the family’s camp in the scrub next to the Catholic church. (p.17) The family lived on a tin hut without running water or a gas stove.
  • Monty recounts being taken to the Tardun Mission, and the conditions encountered there: including the bad food, strict work schedule, the friendships with fellow residents, and the corporal punishment. (pp.31-33)

Family stories:

  • Monty tells stories about his ancestors, the Dongaras, who painted a representation of the arrival of Europeans on the rock at Austin Downs station. (p.8)

Child Removal:

  • Monty describes the experience of being taken away from his family at the age of ten and sent to the Tardun Mission. He condemns the actions of the Native Welfare Department, and call for compensations for the victims of their policies.

Racism:

  • Monty recounts his experiences with racism as a child. He describes his fear and resentment of the Police and Native Welfare departments, who he believes had too much control in Aboriginal people’s lives. However, apart from the authorities, he had limited but unproblematic interactions with white people of the stations, at the Mullewa Reserve, and the Tardun Mission.

Alcohol, violence and recovery:

  • Monty describes his experiences with alcohol, before and after Aboriginal people were prohibited from drinking. Monty felt pressured to start drinking when he was 14, because he was trying with his brothers and the other worker. (p.56)
  • The first night he drank alcohol, Monty ended up injuring himself in a fight with his brother. While their relationship was not damaged, Monty claims that he knew from that point that he had a problem with alcohol. (p.57)
  • Monty recalls that when he was working on the station, he was allowed only one beer a night. (p.43) However, a white friend supplied him with alcohol for his brother’s wedding, which was followed by a “booze-up” in the bush. (p.45) He also obtained alcohol from an Aboriginal relative who had citizenship rights, which he drank before attending a dance in Cue. (p.55)
  • Monty later obtained alcohol in Geraldton. He got into a fight while intoxicated, and was imprisoned for the second time (the first was for drinking in Cue.) (p.56) Monty described how a friend pressured him into taking his employer’s truck, and how he ended up damaging it and having another alcohol induced fight that he got in while working at Ninghan. Once again, he was imprisoned. (pp.69-72)
  • Monty remembers being allowed to legally consume alcohol in 1966. He notes that while he “took it pretty steady” on the first night, alcohol soon came to negatively affect his life. (p.77)
  • In 1966 Monty had an accident while driving a Yagloo Shire vehicle under the influence of alcohol, and was charged with a $200 fine, two months imprisonment, and six months without a licence. (p.81)
  • When Monty left the Shire Council, and started working for the railways, his drinking did not affect his work, however it did lead him to engage in numerous brawls. (p.83)
  • Monty recalls that while older police officers would reprimand him for intoxication and violence, younger police officers were more likely to “manhandle” him. (p.100) This led Monty to retaliate, and he on numerous occasions he was charged with assaulting a police office, and resisting arrest. (p.100) Monty subsequently served a five, nine, three, and two month sentence at Geraldton prison. (pp.84-85, 95, 102)
  • Monty also became violent with his partner, Carol. (p.84)
  • When he was living in Carnarvon, Monty was hit by a car and almost killed whilst working down the street intoxicated. (pp.116) He was taken to hospital and his wounds were treated, which caused him excruciating pain.
  • When Monty was in Geraldton hospital with pneumonia, his nephew gave him a wake up call, and for the first time he began to take alcohol rehabilitation seriously. (p.120) Monty went in and out of Aston Centre in Perth, before visiting Bennelong Haven in Sydney. (p.121)
  • Monty’s visit to Bennelong Haven, his new friendship with Ben Taylor, and his new house in Lockridge, all helped his efforts to stay sober. Monty espouses his philosophy regard drug rehabilitation: take it one day at a time, and avoid alcohol altogether. (pp.123-126)

MODE OF LITERARY PRODUCTION: Worked with a friend Cloud Shabalah in 1995 (with a grant) – using a tape recorder. They also toured the Murchison area in a vehicle, Monty’s first return for over twenty years.

Additional Resources

Source Project

This biographical entry was contributed by Australian Indigenous Autobiography Archive

Citation details

'Walgar, Monty (1944–?)', Indigenous Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://ia.anu.edu.au/biography/walgar-monty-17830/text29415, accessed 24 March 2017.

© Copyright Indigenous Australia, 2012