Littlewell-Mingenew Aboriginal Reserve trail brings back memories

Peter SweeneyMidwest Times
Bill Jones sits on the old toilet block at Littlewell Reserve, Mingenew.
Camera IconBill Jones sits on the old toilet block at Littlewell Reserve, Mingenew. Credit: Peter Sweeney, Midwest Times.

Bill Jones, 81, took a seat on a slab of concrete and let his memories run.

The Littlewell-Mingenew Aboriginal Reserve at Mingenew is special to Mr Jones — he lived there as a child.

His late mum, Ethel, was custodian of the old ablutions block, being appointed in charge of the existing toilet block and new facilities in the late 1950s, following widespread criticism of the condition of the facility.

On November 19, 1953, David Brand, the MLA for Greenough, wrote about the “unsatisfactory sanitary conditions” of the toilet and laundry facilities at the Littlewell Reserve.

On September 27, 1957, district officer F.E. Gare inspected a new septic system. Mrs Jones was left with a straw broom, two toilet brushes and two dozen toilet rolls.

On Friday, Mr Jones, who lives locally, will be among an expected large crowd of indigenous people when an interpretative heritage trail is officially opened at the reserve.

The Littlewell Project opening day — to which all are invited — will begin with a smoking ceremony and welcome to country.

The Littlewell-Mingenew Reserve was created when many Aboriginal men worked on farms in the district.

Families lived on the edge of town in houses made from found materials, including scrap iron, cut posts from the bush and wire.

“I remember Littlewell very well. It was hard, but good,” Mr Jones said.

“I lived here with my mum and brother and sister after our parents separated.

“My dad went and worked at a station out Yalgoo way and arranged for us to go to the Pallottine Mission at Wandalgu.

“I was about 10 or 11 when a priest came to the reserve and collected us. I got a job when I was 14.”

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