Territory Stories

The Garden Point Mob



The Garden Point Mob

Other title

Stories about the early days of the Catholic mission and the people who lived there, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the mission


Historical Society of the Northern Territory Inc


Brogan, Thecla


E-Publications; E-Books; PublicationNT; Historical Society of the Northern Territory




Garden Point


Published to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Roman Catholic mission at Garden Point (Pularumpi) on Melville Island begun in 1940; consists of stories mostly from the early days, prepared by people who were taken to the mission as children in the 1940s and by some of the staff of the mission in the early days; includes evacuation to Melbourne in 1942 and return in 1945, conditions at the mission, dormitory life, education, recreation including hunting, bush trips and football.


Made available via the Publications (Legal Deposit) Act 2004 (NT).

Table of contents

Early days at the mission at Garden Point / J. Pye -- Mission 1940-1945 / E. Bennett -- Gifts from the skies / L. O'Dwyer -- Arrivals at Garden Point; daily life / Sister Elsie, Mick Cussen, Marie Gardner, Thecla Brogan -- How Leon Gregory go the name "Foxie" / Luke S Morcom -- Ada's story / Ada Bailey -- Faye's story / Faye Gavenlock -- Happy days at Garden Point / Barbara Tippolay -- Evacuation 1942 / Eileen Ryan -- The first months / Sister Antoninus -- Harold Anderson / Luke S. Morcom -- Some of the boys / Jack Cusack -- Memories of Garden Point 1956-1964 / Sister Christopher Cleary -- Garden Point grows up / Peter Brogan -- Melville Island song / words by Sister Mary Annunciata.




Melville Island; Catholic Church; Missions; Aboriginal Australians; Religion

Publisher name

Historical Society of the Northern Territory Inc

Place of publication



Historical Society of the Northern Territory


x, 85 pages : illustrations, maps, portraits ; 25 cm.

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Copyright owner

Historical Society of the Northern Territory Inc

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Citation address


Page content

GIFTS FROM THE SKIES IN THANKS FOR CHILDREN'S PRAYERS From L O'Dwyer, Telegraph War Correspondent (1942): Mission children on lonely Island off Northern Australia kneel and pray for the safe return of Allied Airmen as they fiy overhead on strikes against the Japanese had presents showered down on them from the skies this Christmas New Year Season. Flyers of the Australian, American and Dutch Squadrons, moved by their devotion, pooled their own hampers and delivered them to the youngsters by parachute. One morning recently two large crates fioated down at the feet of one of the missionaries and his fiock who acknowledged the gifts with a boxer's wave. Close on nine fiyers surrendered their Christmas presents to play Santa Claus to the mission children. Unable to pack the hampers into ammunition boxes they built two large crates and filled them with gifts which included a special order of candy. Loaded aboard a Mitchell bomber by the armourer the presents were fiown out to the mission by Dutchmen on what they described as 'the most pleasant mission we are ever likely to undertake.' The hampers to the children bore the inscription: 'From Australian, American and Dutch Allies.' 22 ARRIVALS AT GARDEN POINT; DAILY LIFE Sister Elsie, Mick Cussen, Marie Gardner and Thecla Brogqn In 1939 the Government had the policy of taking part-Aboriginal children from their mothers and giving them to the different churches to educate and bring up. The first group left Darwin on 24 June 1941 for Garden Point. We went down to the harbour with Mother Concepta and Sister Annunciata. Brother Smith was the Skipper of the St Francis. He had some Tiwi men on as crew. We left Darwin about 7 am and travelled nearly all day. We arrived at Bathurst Island that afternoon. There were some Sisters and a crowd of Tiwi people on the beach. We spent the night at Bathurst Island Mission. The next morning Sisters Eucharia and Antoninus with another group of children joined us for the rest of the trip. The Sisters and girls arrived at Garden Point on the 25 June. It was Father Connors' feastday. One of the things we were told by Father Connors when we arrived up at the Mission Building, which consisted of Church, Convent, School and girls house, was that the Chapel was upstairs. So we all went upstairs to visit the Chapel. I can remember thinking to myself what a big room when we walked in. I noticed the lovely big polished table (altar). As months rolled by, I soon learnt more about that lovely polished table. Some of us were baptised Catholic but were never instructed. Another thing we remember about that first day was Father Connors emptying a big bag of peanuts onto the table and telling the girls to sit down and have a taste of Garden Point peanuts. We used to watch each day from the girls house when Father and his workers, a small group of Tiwi men, also Joe Madrill and Sonny Bennett, would use picks, shovels and axes to dig out big tree stumps and then burn them. Father Connors and his 23