After farming in the Victorian Mallee, Brian Carter (born in 1931) got ‘the flying bug’ and worked as a commercial pilot around Australia before he settled at Derby in the Kimberley where he met and married Violet, a Bardi Aboriginal woman, in 1960.
I fell in love with a Bardi girl who’d been born on Sunday Island. There were three of them, three young ladies were working for the mission. They’d take it in turns doing washing one week—for all the kids—and cooking, ironing. There was actually three, three flowers actually. There was a Daphne, there was a Rosemary and there was a Violet (laughs). Fell in love eventually with the Violet. Her parents were living still on Sunday Island. We knew each other for a fair while before we got together. Over a year.
It was pretty strange—I think—in those days. Not like today. It took a fair bit of arranging ’cause being Aboriginal she was under Native Welfare and I had to go through a lot of rigmarole to get permission to marry her. I just had to answer a lot of questions. They didn’t have rights in those days. That came later. Quite a bit later, I think. It was frowned upon more by station people—I think—than ordinary people, than general people. We had no problem.
I remember buying a pram in Perth when Andrew was a baby, when we moved over there, and living in half a house. We wanted to buy a pram, no a cot, and I remember the lady in the shop complimenting me on something or other, ‘Oh, you’re a brave man. Oh, so brave’, for marrying Violet (laughs). So, I don’t know whether that was an attitude, different attitude anyway. I asked my mother before I was married—dad was dead—and I said, ‘How would you see me if I married a Aboriginal girl?’ Only thing she asked was, ‘Is she a Christian?’ And I was fortunate to be able to say yes. That’s all she worried about.
Credit: Brian John Carter interviewed by Elaine Rabbitt in the Australian generations oral history project, ORAL TRC 6300/116, National Library of Australia. Recorded on 11 September 2012 in One Arm Point, Western Australia.