Maureen Murrarngulu Thompson

Maureen Murrarngulu Thompson


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Date of birth




Maureen was born in 1931 on Nutwood Downs Station which was then owned by Vesty. Her father was working in the stock camp there and her mother was cooking for the stockmen. Maureen says she ran around the station,”as a naked Picaninny”. The family had to leave the station because her father died. They spent time in the bush and walked to St Vidgeon’s and then to Limmen Bight Country, sometimes traveling by canoe down the Roper River.

They came to the Mission at Ngukurr after the big flood of 1940. They traveled by canoe. Maureen went to school at the Mission at night after working in the vegetable gardens during the days and also sewing clothes for the other children. Maureen learnt English at the school as well as other subjects and she used to live in the dormitory. She still speaks Marra despite the missionaries trying to stop the children spending time with their parents and speaking their own languages. Her mother was a cook at the school.

Maureen was married at the Ngukurr church but her first husband died while she was still a young girl. As a widow she moved away from the community and lived by the river and went hunting. Maureen remembers troops training down by the river during World War 2.  After a while she got married again and moved to Darwin because her husband was a tracker who worked for the police there. She worked as a cleaner and did ironing for the sergeant. Altogether she had 12 children. Five of them were born in Darwin.

That policeman sent the family first to Maranboy and then to Pine Creek before they returned to Darwin where Faith, Maureen’s last daughter was born in 1971. Back in Darwin Maureen did 9 years of Bible training as well as raising her children. Maureen moved back to Ngukurr in the late 80’s and started painting after watching Willie Gudabi and his wife Moima paint. Maureen sadly passed away in 2013.