The Carrolup Story Website: Our 3rd Birthday

Some of the Carrolup young artists. Front row: Reynold Hart (Far Left), Parnell Dempster (Middle) and Revel Cooper (Far Right). Back row, 2nd Left: Barry Loo. Do you know who the other boys are?

Some of the Carrolup young artists. Front row: Reynold Hart (Far Left), Parnell Dempster (Middle), Ross Jones (2nd Right) and Revel Cooper (Far Right). Back row: Claude Kelly (Far Left) and Barry Loo (2nd Left). Mary Durack Miller Collection, J. S. Battye Library of West Australian History.

Three years ago today, John Stanton, Ash Whitney and I launched The Carrolup Story online storytelling, education and healing resource. The resource now comprises over 320 pages, including 270 blog posts. How did The Carrolup Story website come about?

Our story begins 45 years ago, when John Stanton first viewed a Revel Cooper drawing outside the office of his mentor Ron Berndt. John would be Director of the Berndt Museum of Anthropology for 38 years, sharing the art and culture of Aboriginal people to a wide, appreciative audience. He would work closely with the Noongar people of South West Australia, the Aboriginal group of people with which the story of Carrolup is most closely associated.

I started working on my PhD in Psychology in the UK 45 years ago, on the road to a career in neuroscience—studying the relationship between brain function and behaviour—which lasted until the start of the new millennium.

I made a radical career change soon after becoming a Professor in Psychology at the University of Swansea in Wales, developing the Wired In initiative to empower and connect people to facilitate their recovery from substance use and associated problems. I launched Sharing Culture, an online educational initiative to facilitate the healing of historical trauma, in 2014, just over five years after I had moved to Perth.

I first met Ash Whitney, who lives in Cilfrew, South Wales, in 2000 and he built my first ever website, the drug and alcohol news portal Daily Dose. We have remained good friends since then, and Ash has built me a number of websites, including the Recovery Stories website in 2013. I couldn’t think of a better person to help John and I build The Carrolup Story.

Noel and Lily White attending the Katanning Agricultural Show in November 1949. Noel & Lily White Collection.

Noel and Lily White attending the Katanning Agricultural Show in November 1949. Noel & Lily White Collection.

I first met Noelene White, daughter of Carrolup teacher Noel White, in 2016. She encouraged close friend Mike Liu and I to make contact ‘with my good friend John Stanton’. They had been friends since 1986. Once we met, it didn’t take John and I long to realise that we wanted to be working together. We were both very passionate about the Carrolup Story, had complementary skills which were a big plus for the project, and had quickly become close friends. We later discovered, strangely enough, that we both nearly ended up at a film school in London in the early 1970s!

Noelene White has played a very significant role in this story. She has provided us with access to treasured family items related to her family’s life at Carrolup Native Settlement. She has been a tremendous inspiration to both John and I. She has been a tremendous inspiration to both John and I.

In honour of  Noelene, we have decided to launch The Carrolup Story on her 85th birthday. So today, we wish Noelene a happy 88th Birthday.

We have met many interesting people on our journey, including family members of the children of Carrolup. We would like to thank all those people, as well as those people who have encouraged us and thanked us for what we are doing through our Facebook pages. You know who you are. We would like to acknowledge our partner in this initiative, the Berndt Museum of Anthropology at The University of Western Australia.

If you would like to take this opportunity to read more about how the website developed and read some stories of the people we have met, I have included some links below.

I should also remind people that if you want to read more about the story (and in order), my eBook Connection: Aboriginal Child Artists Captivate Europe can be purchased  from Amazon, Apple or Kobo.

Related Blog Posts:

Developing The Carrolup Story: ‘We discussed our approach and proposed website structure with Ash Whitney and he made some important initial suggestions. He then helped us chose a theme, a basic ‘look’ for the website which he would then work up. We were thrilled with the initial Home Page he showed us. It was just what we wanted.’

Launching ‘The Carrolup Story’: ‘I finally found some time to sit down and go through the website. I was moved to tears going through the material. Simply awesome! A beautifully crafted site full of incredible material – story telling saves lives.’ Carlie Atkinson, CEO, We Al-li Healing Programs

Meet Cheryle Jones, Whose Mother Was at Carrolup: ‘I’d been following The Carrolup Story blogs for a while. When I saw David’s blog posting I was overjoyed, because I immediately recognised that one of the young girls in the photograph was my mother, Mildred Jones. Without hesitation, I let David know. I was overwhelmed, as I had never seen the photograph before and knew little, in fact virtually nothing, about my mother’s early life.’

A Day Out With the Ryder Family: We spend a special day with the children of Carrolup artist Cliff Ryder at Moore River Settlement, Goomalling Reserve, and the cemetery in Goomalling where Cliff is buried alongside his baby son Chris. At the gravesite, I give a copy of the book Child Artists of the Australian Bush by Mary Durack Miller and Florence Rutter to four of Cliff’s children, Charon, George (Clive), Kerry and Judy.

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