Interviewees

Kathy Mills with super

KATHY MILLS

Aunty Kathy Mills is an Aboriginal poet, musician and singer, a mother of eight, grandmother of twenty eight and aunty to many. Her daughters are the well known singers – the Mills Sisters. Kathy has won many awards and was the first woman to be a member of the Northern Land Council. She wrote the song “Arafura Pearl” which features in Blown Away.

Kathy and her family survived Cyclone Tracy crammed into a small storeroom under their house.

Eric Fejo with super

ERIC FEJO

Eric Fejo is a Larrakia Man who has worked as a custodian for Larrakia sacred sites with the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority for many years. He is passionate about protecting and passing on knowledge about his country and is proud that he has never lived more than 20 miles away from where he was born.

Eric was only 10 years old during Cyclone Tracy and spent the night huddled up with his family in a room with a candle and kerosene lantern. He remembers when he went outside the following morning, it was like something you’d see in a war movie.

Peter Bate with super

PETER BATE

Peter Bate was a Meteorologist at the Darwin Bureau of Meteorology from 1974 to 2003. He and his wife Helen lived through Cyclone Tracy in their then home in Alawa, which was damaged by the cyclone. Peter currently conducts regular tours of the Cyclone Tracy exhibit at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory.

Robbie Mills with super

ROBBIE MILLS

Patj Patj Robbie Mills is a Larrakia/ Kungarakan Man, a professional musician and the owner operator of Batji Tours which was created to share his passion for all his family’s heritage and cultures, history and knowledge. Robbie spent the night of Cyclone Tracy in a storeroom under his house with his parents, 7 siblings, a dog and 3 cats.

Tony Powell with super

TONY POWELL

Tony Powell AO is a town planner and civil engineer who commenced his professional career in 1958 as a dam-site construction engineer with the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority. He retired from private practice 58 years later on his 80th birthday in March this year. He has held five chief executive positions in that time spanning both public and private enterprise corporations, one of which was the Darwin Reconstruction Commission as its inaugural chairman and chief executive in 1975. At the same time he was also The Commissioner of the National Capital Development Commission based in Canberra and made extensive use of the Commission’s staff in the setting up of the Darwin reconstruction program following the devastation of the city by Cyclone Tracy.

Bill Day with super

BILL DAY

Dr. Bill Day hitch-hiked north from Perth in 1969, looking for answers amongst the hippies on Darwin’s Lameroo Beach.  Instead, he took up the cause of the local Larrakia people living in camps on vacant Crown land in the suburbs of Darwin. For thirteen years he documented the Larrakia struggle for land rights in the Aboriginal rights newsletter Bunji.

The campaign took its toll on his family life and in 1989 Bill returned to Perth alone. In 1994, Aboriginal Studies Press published Bill’s account of his Darwin experiences in his book, Bunji: a story of the Gwalwa Daraniki Movement. He returned to Darwin in 1996 to conduct fieldwork amongst the local ‘long grass’ people for his PhD thesis, ‘Fringe dwellers in Darwin: Cultural continuities or a culture of resistance?’ His graduation in 2001 began a new episode in his continuing involvement with the Aboriginal people of Darwin.

Bill Wilson with super

BILL WILSON

Dr. Bill Wilson APM OAM spent almost 40 years in the Northern Territory.  He joined the Northern Territory Police in 1969 and served throughout the Territory before retiring with the rank of Assistant Commissioner in 1996.  Following retirement he undertook a PhD in history at the Northern Territory University and lectured there in history and politics before taking up a role in the Support and Equity Division of the University.  Bill has been awarded the Australian Police Medal and the Medal of the Order of Australia.

During Cyclone Tracy, Bill was a Sergeant in the Recruit Training Centre, lost his house and undertook a wide range of tasks prior to transferring to Adelaide for two years to continue training NT Police recruits there.  He now lives with his wife Patricia in Beechworth, Victoria.

Ella Stack with Super

ELLA STACK

Dr. Ella Stack CBE and her family moved to Darwin in 1961 and she was soon one of only two private practitioners in Darwin. After Cyclone Tracy she chose to stay and provide medical support and to help with the reconstruction of the city.

In May 1975 she was elected the first woman Mayor of Darwin and became a member of the Darwin Reconstruction Commission.  With self-government in 1979, Dr. Stack became Lord Mayor of Darwin. Later she became first Assistant Secretary of the Division of Aboriginal Health and then Secretary of the Department of Health of the Northern Territory.

Sean Kennedy with super

SEAN KENNEDY

Sean Kennedy was born in the old Darwin Hospital in 1971, the youngest of 7 children. His family survived Cyclone Tracy in their home in Anula, which was severely damaged. On the 31st of December 1974, Sean was evacuated with his mother and 5 siblings to Wagga Wagga, but his father and 2 oldest brothers stayed in Darwin for the cleanup. Sean always wanted to return home to Darwin and finally did so in 1994 when he was 23, and it has been his home ever since.

Jack Phillips with super

JACK PHILLIPS

Jack was a Waterside Worker at the Port of Darwin and a Union Official. He is also a passionate Aboriginal Rights Activist and fought for Gurindji and Larrakia peoples’ land rights claims.

On the day Cyclone Tracy struck Jack was told that all the boats had to leave Stokes Hill wharf. He let the mooring lines go for many boats which then tried to ride out the cyclone in the harbour or out at sea. Tragically, most of them didn’t return. Jack worked for many months in the clean up of Darwin after Cyclone Tracy

Aleeta Fejo with Super

ALEETA FEJO ELLIOTT

Dr. Aleeta Fejo Elliott is married, has three children, a foster son and one granddaughter. Aleeta  lives in Humpty Doo.

She is a Medical Practitoner. The  NT’s first Aboriginal  GP.  She is passionate about improving  Indigenous Health and has worked throughout Australia and especially  the Top End  as a GP and teacher of Indigenous Medical Students and GP Registrars.

Christine Fejo-King with super

CHRISTINE FEJO-KING

Christine Fejo-King is married with three children. The oldest Jessica is completing her final year as a medical student at the ANU and will be the first Indigenous graduate from that medical school. Her second child, Kathleen has Downs Syndrome and needs a lot of care and is the centre of the family. Son Jad has a Sociology degree and recently married.

Christine is a social worker, completed a PhD in 2011, converted it to a book in 2011 and is currently the project manager leading the work on the 3rd International Indigenous Social Work Conference which will happen in Darwin in September, 2015.

Dawn Lawrie with super

DAWN LAWRIE

Dawn Lawrie first arrived in the Territory about 1960, first living in Alice Springs and then moving to Darwin. She worked both for the government and for a private doctor, then married and had three children. In 1971 she stood as an Independent in the Darwin electorate of Nightcliff and won the seat, the second woman in Territory history to be elected to Parliament. She won again in October 1974 when she was elected to the Territory’s first fully-elected Legislative Assembly.

She experienced Cyclone Tracy along with her family at their home in Nightcliff and in the aftermath took a leading role in protecting the rights of Darwin citizens. She championed many issues during her parliamentary career, including heritage matters, vagrancy and abortion reform. Dawn was re-elected in 1977 and 1980 but lost her seat in 1983. After a spell of running her own newspaper, she went on to become NT Human Rights Commissioner and later NT Anti-Discrimination Commissioner.

Eddie Josephs with super

EDDIE JOSEPHS

Eddie Josephs is a Vietnam Veteran and was a member of the Northern Territory Police Force from 1969 to 2000. Eddie served mainly in General Duties and was promoted to Senior Constable, Sergeant, then Senior Sergeant, serving in Darwin, Adelaide River, Katherine, Borroloola, Harts Range, Hooker Creek (Lajimanu), Nhulunbuy and Groote Eylandt. After over 31 years as an NT Police Officer, Eddie retired in November 2000, and now lives in Darwin where he does voluntary work for the Darwin RSL as an advocate for service people in their dealings with Veterans’ Affairs.

Eddie survived Cyclone Tracy crammed into the hallway of a house in Nakara with 7 other people as the house was torn apart around them. In the days after Tracy, Eddie was involved in the search and rescue of people in the wreckage.

Tom Pauling with super

TOM PAULING

Tom Pauling AO QC has had a long career in both law and the performing arts since 1970, becoming Solicitor-General in 1988 and Administrator of the Northern Territory in 2007. He has appeared in or directed over 60 theatre productions in Darwin. His house in Leichhardt Crescent Fannie Bay, co-owned with his friend Terence Coulehan, was unroofed by Cyclone Tracy but otherwise stood up well. At the time of Cyclone Tracy, Tom was in the RAAF Reserves and to his surprise was called up to work at the airport and assist with the evacuation of 20,000 people.

Kevin Mulcahy with super

KEVIN MULCAHY

Kevin Mulcahy was born and bred in Canberra and spent most of his working life in the Commonwealth Public Service. He joined the National Capital Development Commission in 1970 and was a Senior Officer in the Finance area when he was sent to Darwin in March 1975.

Kevin was happy to be working on facilitating the reconstruction of Darwin, but was surprised to experience the aggressive attitude of some of the remaining locals towards those southerners who were trying to help them restore their lives. Kevin left the NCDC in 1978 to try life away from the bureaucracy but returned 3 years later as a consultant until the demise of the organization in 1988.

Sophie Cunningham with super

SOPHIE CUNNINGHAM

Sophie Cunningham has been on the publishing scene in Australia for thirty years. A former publisher and editor, she is the author of two novels, Geography (2004) and Bird (2008) and, as part of the New South City Series, wrote Melbourne (2011).

She is a former editor of Meanjin, and until recently was Chair of the Literature Board of the Australia Council. She is a founding member of The Stella Prize, a prize for Australian women’s writing.

Her latest book Warning: The Story of Cyclone Tracy was published by Text Publishing in August 2014.

Kootji Raymond with super

KOOTJI RAYMOND

Desmond “Kootji” Raymond is a Larrakia Man, and is owner/director of Bigapitja Pty Ltd which offers consultancy in the areas of art, business and culture.

Kootji has worked with filmmaker Paul Roberts to make a number of highly awarded films including Artists Up Front, Buffalo Legends and Land Of The Little Kings. He continues to paint and his art works have appeared in numerous exhibitions nationally. In 2003 he was awarded a Masters Degree in Fine Arts. Kootji has numerous production credits including Assistant Director on The Mary G Show and Director on Wrap Me Up In Paperbark among others.

Kootji spent the night of Cyclone Tracy with two women and their children huddled up against the wall with the double bed mattress over the top of them as protection.

Bill Ivory with super

BILL IVORY

Bill was working as a Patrol Officer in Central Australia for the Department of Aboriginal Affairs when he received news that Cyclone Tracy had destroyed Darwin. Having grown up in Darwin he was keen to get back to his family and friends. He took two months leave and drove into Darwin but was quickly disorientated because all of the landmarks had been stripped away by the storm. He finally made it to his parents’ house and found his father mowing the lawn determined to get on with things. Bill got a job working for the Darwin Port authority on the rebuild of Darwin.

Iorwerth with super

FEATURE VERSION ONLY

IORWERTH AP.MORUS-HUWS

Iorwerth Ap.Morus-Huws was born and grew up on Ynus Mon at the North Western tip of Wales. He migrated to Australia when he was 21 and landed in Sydney where he lived for two years before travelling up to Darwin in an old 1950s small wheel base Land Rover with an old wooden 15ft caravan.

Iorwerth ran his own business, The Amaroo motel/cafe until it was very badly damaged by Cyclone Tracy – no more of the best hamburgers and steak sandwiches in Darwin. After Cyclone Tracy, he got a job as a ground steward with T.A.A. and worked there for just under 15 years before transferring to Australian Airlines and then Qantas. He then worked as purchasing manager for Gate Gourmet at Darwin Airport for 25 years before retiring.

James Spigelman with super

FEATURE VERSION ONLY

JAMES SPIGELMAN

James Spigelman AC QC is a former Australian judge. He served as Lieutenant Governor of New South Wales and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New South Wales from 1998 until 2011. He was appointed to the Court of Final Appeal of Hong Kong in 2013. James Spigelman is currently chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

From 1972 to 1975, he served as Senior Advisor and Principal Private Secretary to the Prime Minister Gough Whitlam.