Yindjibarndi Elder Bigali Ngawurradarn Hanlon was born under a tree on Mulga Downs Station, near Wittenoom, in 1941. At the age of five, Bigali was forcibly removed with her younger brother under the government’s racist policies.
But Bigali was determined to find her home and family. As a young married woman, Bigali moved to Wittenoom with her husband who worked in the asbestos mine. While exploring the creek beds near Wittenoom, Bigali came across a bush cucumber, which she opened and smelled. She knew she’d been there before.
Her family already knew she had returned home; watching from a distance as she went about her business in town, waiting to introduce her to her mother, who still worked at the station Bigali had been stolen from years before. The family was reunited but the loss of language and culture has never been reconciled.
At 80 years old, Bigali remains inspired by the beauty of her Country, sharing her knowledge and love of Country with her family and community. She recently started painting, finding a new expression of love for Country and kin.