Less than fifteen years ago, on 23rd May 1984, a few months after her fiftieth birthday, a black woman who had always told her nine children she would write a book some day, sat down to do so. She had left school at the age of fifteen, unable to imagine a future for a black teacher of either white or black children. Instead, she trained as a clothing machinist in Sydney, and through hard necessity later acquired the bush skills of ‘fencing, burning off, lopping and ring-barking, and pegging roo skins’. Along the way she also learned the traditional knowledge, history and lore that give her the status of Doctor among her people.

Copyright © Suvendrini Perera 2012. This text may be archived and redistributed both in electronic form and in hard copy, provided that the author and journal are properly cited and no fee is charged.

This article originally appeared in the “Black Swan” issue of Meridian 17.1 (1998), published to commemorate Ruby Langford Ginibi’s receipt of an honorary doctorate from La Trobe University. The editors wish to thank John Barnes for allowing the reprint.