Veronica is driven by her passion for teaching Indigenous culture. She is a respected Wathaui Elder from far north Queensland. Known as an artist she acts as a guide at the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre in the Melbourne Museum. She works with the Sustainability School Awards to develop sustainability awareness and practice. This is a way of passing on learning to a broad variety of people and teaching about the strengths of Aboriginal culture.
Walking through the Milliari garden I was fascinated by her stories and gained infinitely more with Veronica as my guide than I ever could have by walking it without her. The Indigenous ethos is consistent - when you take you give back. Respect for the land is connected with self respect and identity.
Veronica is fun and the other guides tell me how she is known for getting into the water with the eels and tickling their silver tummies. The eels are fed at the Milarri garden at 1.45 daily.
Veronica's paternal grandmother was full blood Bamaga and her mother's heritage is Thursday Islander. Until she was 20 she lived a more traditional lifestyle. Veronica began painting after painting the shed with her brother and finding that she had something to say through art. Her art helped her connect to her own story and that of her country. Known for her weaving and paintings she has displayed her work at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre, RMIT, Melbourne Museum and many galleries and private collections. Her father taught her to weave the lawyer cane up north and in this portrait she is weaving me a bracelet from Lomandra that is used from cape York down to Victoria for nets, baskets and food.
Veronica has a strong connection with young people and has worked with them in many ways to help them find their path. By passing on what she has learned to the next generation Veronica hopes to strengthen young lives so they flourish as proud Indigenous people who can pass that knowledge on and strengthen future generations. To young Indigenous people Veronica wants to say;
Be proud of your Culture
Be proud of who you are
Respect your elders and the people you associate with and they will respect you back.