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


Brogan, Thecla


E-Publications; E-Books; PublicationNT




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

Place of publication



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

File type




Copyright owner

Historical Society of the Northern Territory

Parent handle


Citation address


Page content

- remember as well as two little boys, Joseph and John Breddon. Mercia w~s a very strong charactered girl as she proved several times. Father Connors had wanted to baptise her but Mercia was an Anglican and she refused because s~e was not sure at that stage that the Catholic religion was the nght one. Joseph w~s a very sick little boy about four years old, apparent~y suffenng from hookworm and he died a month after our arnval. Johnny too had hookworm but we saved him. Joseph would not rest content when he lay dying unless Brother was n~ar by. He loved 'Uncle-Brudder' who obviously had been canng for them before the Sisters arrived. Thecla, Rowena, Mercy, Philomena, Magdalen, Imelda and Majorie were some of the bigger girls I remember ... Peter Brogan, Albert, Mick Heenan, Dinny, Joe were am~ng the boys. Freda, Helena, Martha, Barbara (now AD) Melaro~ a.nd .Anna were smaller ones in the same group and the real htthes i~ the beginning were Marie, Maureen and Johnny, and Nora Sullivan was the baby, not two at that stage. Many mor~ came l~ter of course, in fact, just about every boat brought an increase I~ our family and usually they came only with what they stood up in. We were poor, very poor. Native Affairs had loaded us up with children and promises and little else, most had a change of clothes and nothing more. There were two, large well-built buildings, one for the Sisters and girls and one for the boys and Father and Brother. The houses were really multipurpose. Ours was the church as well, th the Blessed Sacrament reserved up one end, the sanctuary ~dden by a red curtain. Sister Eucharia and I had a bed each in one corner, Sister Annunciata in the other and we w~re hidden from the gaze of the vulgar multitudes .by a re~ curtau~. Father Connors had got rolls of calico cheap in Darwin but it was all red. The middle of the building served as a classroom 60 ~th half a ~ozen worm-eaten desks that Father had picked up 1n the Darwin compound and there was a makeshift blackboard, some slates, cast-off reading books of all standards and a11 descriptions, hardly two the same; Sister Annunciata had g~thered these up in Sydney. Sister had also been given a piano; she had a great ability to teach children to sing, even the supposedly tone deaf. This was a happy period in the school day. We may not have had much to eat at times and we lacked much in the way of material possessions but we had music anyway. The children's beds were made of poles sunk into the ground and h~ssian . stretched across the top. I used to feel sorry for the bigger girls as many had been used to better things in Darwin. Rowena had been a boarder at the convent, Imelda and some of the others too. But they did not grumble there was a lovely spirit in those days. Father Connors was a' very pleasant man to work with, his greatest ambition was to make the mission a happy place for everyone. He and Brother Bennett with their limited resources were ever eager to help us. Four gallon drums cut in halves made good wash basins and there was always the sea for a bath. Flour came in tins in wooden cases which made first class presses when opened correctly. Mother Concepta had come to install us and stayed a couple of weeks. She was a big help and really enjoyed this taste of the mission life for which she had so long yearned. Some days she would go to the kitchen and fry pufilaloons from the bread dough as her mother had taught her long ago ... with jam they were delicious and a bright spot in a dull menu. In those wonderful tea chests that Sister Annunciata had packed in Sydney there was a pile of discarded Sacred Heart solidarity banners that had really seen better days but the linings, albeit faded and streaked were made of strong sateen. These, Mother ripped up and made into pants for the small children and believe me they needed a supply for they certainly 61

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