Being a local
Carol: On the belonging things, we were told by the locals that you would never be a local – you had to be born here. And that really sunk in deeply. And if people say are you a local, I’ve been here forty years now, I say ‘no I’m not a local’.
Leigh: So do I.
Carol: Because you’re not allowed to be a local unless you are reared as a local. Like Ray is a local because he was born at Ballina. Right but we are not allowed to be locals, and that had quite a strong effect on your psyche, in relation to belonging.
Have you resolved that? Or is that actually something that continues?
Carol: No, I just agree with them if that’s what they think, that I’m not a local. I don’t feel resentful about it. I don’t, I’m not a local. And I have a strong – because I go to Melbourne every six weeks to work I have a very strong relationship there which – a friendship group and family and so on. So, I’ve sort of had a foot in both camps for a while. But I’m taking my foot out of the Melbourne camp now just cause I can’t keep it up. That also probably had a lot to do with it. But yeah there’s a very strong message ‘you are not a local.’
Leigh: People say to me, ‘how long you been here?’ and I say thirty three years. Oh yeah they say ‘you’re nearly a local.’ I think the term local means in this context that this is the place where you were born. By that token Ray’s not a Terania local.
Leigh: He’s a north coast local. So I think it’s a word that seems to have that meaning. But there are no locals left now, hardly any, when the Everingham’s go.
Ray: There’s all the new ones.
Ray: There’s a lot of new locals.
Leigh: Kids I suppose that have been born here, yes you can say that. But then they’re not the…. Hmm – but I never thought of that either. To me the locals are like the Tainsh’s; the people who farmed this area in the ‘30s. To me they’re the locals – when this place was a farming community. That’s how I think of it.
JJ: But it is interesting – about Ray’s point – there’s Gwanji Monks and Chedwa White.
Carol: But you’d never think – I wouldn’t think of them as locals.
Leigh: Neither would I.
Carol: Because we’re much more of a migrant – because people move so much these days. We think of ourselves as more global than local don’t we?
JJ: But it’s strong in them. We had a camp up at Protestors Falls, a school camp and Gwanji, you know really he was recalling a time when there was lots of people and singing protesting songs. We were singing the songs around the fire and he broke down.
Does he see himself as a local?
Leigh: He was probably born out here.
JJ: He was born here.
JJ: Yeah and that’s his memories. But then his association with being a local is totally – you know – what you guys associate as coming here.
How old is he?
JJ: He’s probably…
JJ: Yeah thirty. All that age group – they’ve been to school here; they’ve grown up here up and down the creek.
Carol: That’s right.
Ray: Would that have been Molly’s bananas?
Carol: Oh… Mullies – that’s it!
Leigh: Well Mullies Dip was over here.
Carol: Good on you Ray, well done. We’re raking it out [all laugh]. We have to get it down! Mum died in August and it was just – suddenly the history dropped out – I just went, wow!
JJ: Yeah. Yeah.
Carol: It’s absolutely gone. And she was great. She’d collected all these books about various aspects of the family. But that very personal aspect is gone, so it’s incredibly important, these memories.
I’m glad that you got the name Ray! And that local thing – have you ever questioned that notion of being local?
Ray: You mean the fact that I’m sort of more local, more or less local?
Yes – has it been something that you’ve even thought about?
Ray: Well I suppose in a way I don’t consider myself a local of here. But yes I suppose there’s not too many people that claim to be a local on the north coast in these areas.
Did it make any difference to how you’ve settled?
Ray: Well it does feel like my area, yeah definitely. I mean – in the wider area – I’ve always had a connection with Lismore – which is our service centre. And so I do feel local I suppose. And I still go to Ballina regularly.
Jo: Hmm those connections.