Ken Dalton

Ken Dalton

I was the last of the ten children born to Horace and Elizabeth Dalton. My dad was born on Myora Mission in 1899 and his Dad (my Grandad) was born on Moreton Island and is a Nghui, now with all of the three groups together we now come together as the Quandamooka People. My mum, born Elizabeth Kearns, was a Kooma woman from Dirranbandi. Along with her brother and sister, she was taken from her parents and sent to Barambah Mission in 1909. I was born in Nambour Qld 29th January 1940. Our family lived in Caloundra. WW2 was on and things were hard. Dad drank a lot and Mum and Dad separated about 1945/6. We first went to live in Ipswich and I went to school for a time at Churchill, a suburb of Ipswich where I met Amelia Anderson who was later to become my wife, then in North Queensland and finally to Mitchell in South West Queensland where I attended school until I was 12 and then went to work.

In Mitchell we lived on what was known as "the Yumba" a reserve of land set aside for Aborigines of that area, it was typical of most reserves. There was no running water, Mum had to buy water or at times we got water from the Maranoa River, no electricity, we had bag doors and Mum cooked in a big old steel wash tub, pit toilets way down the back. Because I did not finish scholarship most of the jobs that I did were mainly labouring or something. At 16 I returned to Ipswich where I met Amelia and we started to go out and I told her that I intended to go to North Queensland to cut cane with my brother John and she said I will go with you. I told her she could not come with me as she was only 16, to which she replied you’re only 16 yourself. She ended up coming with me and we had our first child when we were 17 much to the "tut tuts" of many people. We were married at 18 and have 6 surviving children. Amelia passed away at 70 on the day which would have been our 52nd wedding anniversary.

Most of my life I worked at hard physical work in various jobs such as construction, field work on potatoes, fruit, railways, and as I got older my body could not take hard work. I was already involved in many Aboriginal issues and I was in North Queensland at an Aboriginal organisation when I was employed as an advisor to a Federal Minister on Aboriginal issues, then to another Federal Minister then a State Minister. Because of my involvement with the Ministers and Aboriginal issues I then got a position with the government in Townsville as a Resource/Policy officer. It was while I was in this position that I had an opportunity to attend the James Cook University in Townsville to maybe study law. I was okay at the study but because of issues with the department I could not continue but the seed to be better in education and learning was planted. I got the opportunity later after my wife passed away to go to uni. I enrolled in 2012 and Graduated with a Diploma in Arts in March 2017 aged 77.

Now I own my own home on 4 hectares (10 acres) and have been here for over 40 years. I feel that as Aboriginal people, in a time of discrimination and racial prejudice, going through the rough and the smooth and having an opportunity to better ourselves regardless of the difficulties my wife and I faced, we have accomplished things that some people Indigenous and non-Indigenous still dream about having and doing.

As we have always felt that the past is to learn from and not to live in.

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