History through Wiradjuri eyes
For much of his life Dr Yalmambirra didn’t know he was Wiradjuri but the discovery led to a desire to understand more about his cultural heritage and eventually a PhD through CSU.
“Mum and Dad had kept the fact that we were Indigenous a secret because they didn’t want to lose their children,” Dr Yalmambirra said. “When I found out and came to university it hit home – I’m Wiradjuri and I’ve got to do something about this. I wanted to know who I was.” “The promise was if I came to CSU and passed the recruiting program for matureaged Indigenous people, then I would see it all the way through.” So, aged 44, Yalmambirra moved from Sydney to Albury-Wodonga to study full-time. After being awarded his Bachelor of Applied Science (Parks, Recreation and Heritage) (Honours) Yalmambirra set his sights on a PhD and began his research in 2003.
University on a dare
The path to a PhD was more of an evolution than a planned journey for Dr Yalmambirra. “I was a bad bugger when I was young and got sent to a boy’s home for 11 months. So I left school at 11 years of age and started work. “I had no educational background. My education came from my workmates who were much older than me.” More than 30 years on, his brother Robert graduated from CSU with a Bachelor of Parks Recreation and Heritage in 1995, and he challenged Yalmambirra to do the same.
Understanding the past to understand the present
Drawing on thousands of old diaries, notebooks and literature, written largely from a colonist’s perspective, Dr Yalmambirra’s PhD research explores and then challenges how Wiradjuri culture was documented as inferior and stoneage. “For example, many of the books I read as part of my research suggested that Wiradjuri peoples were cannibals.” Dr Yalmambirra also spoke with