During NAIDOC week my old mate, Pete, and I went out to the airport to pick up that great old dame, Mary G, Black Queen of the Kimberley.
We didn’t find her, but we did find the bloke who morphs into her, Mark Bin Barkar, a Kitja man from the deep north.
Mark was down here to talk to parents and students at Spencer Park Primary School and what a time they had.
He spoke first to the parents wearing pants and a shirt, then he slipped into something more comfortable, a long dress and heavy makeup, and gave the youngsters plenty to think and laugh about.
If you aren’t too sure who Mark is, let me help: West Australian of the Year 2007; Amnesty International Medallion Recipient 2005; Chairperson Kimberley Stolen Generation Committee; comedian with a regular radio show broadcast to over 100 radio stations around Australia every Wednesday night; talented musician and compatriot of that great Broome mob, the Pigram Brothers.
In other words, Mark doesn’t get thumb twiddling.
I first met him in Perth, around 1986, after he had setup AbMusic to help Aboriginal people on their musical journeys. He had come down from Broome to complete his boilermaker-welder apprenticeship.
He made me laugh as soon as I set eyes on him and we’ve been welded ever since.
Pete and I had a great two days with Mark and his champion wife, Tania, telling tall tales and laughing our heads off, but what really made Pete sit up was when Mark said: “The Noongar is rising.”
“You Noongars bore the brunt of the Wadjela invasion, but I reckon your time has come.”
Pete smiled. I think he knows something.