Introduction: More than my own mother to me

  • Victoria K. Haskins


In a quiet Sydney suburb in May 1934, Joan Kingsley-Strack, fashionably dressed North Shore mother of three and organizing genius of the British Empire pageant the year before, was writing a eulogy to her grandmother, Maggie Hobbes, in her diary. Sitting by the old lady’s deathbed, she reflected on her romantic past — an orphan of the British Raj, she had fled cold guardians in Scotland to the remote British colony of New South Wales, to end up, almost single-handedly, running a vast dairying property overlooking Wallaga Lake on the far south coast. In particular, Joan dwelt on Maggie Hobbes’ legendary kindness to her Aboriginal neighbours, the Yuin, who lived adjacent to her on the local Aboriginal reserve. ‘Mrs Hobbes mothered nursed & cared for the Aboriginal women and babes at the Wallaga Lake settlement which adjoined Merriwinga adding to the meagre rations of these ill treated people whenever possible,’ she wrote:

The love care and understanding which she expended upon these simple & lovable people has never been forgotten. She patched up their quarrels she fed & clothed them until they came to look upon her as their own ‘little Missus’ …. She always said [they] had been infamously treated …. On several occasions she came to Sydney simply to demand justice for these defenceless people, once having a manager of the Station removed because of his dishonesty …


White Woman Aboriginal People Bright Spot Aboriginal Child Aboriginal Woman 
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  1. 1.
    See Carolyn G. Heilbrun, Writing a Woman’s Life (New York: Ballantine Books, 1998), 39, 68.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    M. E. McGuire, ‘The Legend of the Good Fella Missus’, Aboriginal Histoty, vol. 14, no. 2 (1990), 124–51;Google Scholar
  3. M. Tonkinson, ‘Sisterhood or Aboriginal Servitude? Black Women and White Women on the Australian Frontier’, Aboriginal History vol. 12, no. 1 (1988), 27–39;Google Scholar
  4. L. Riddett, ‘“Watching the White Women Fade”: Aboriginal and White Women in the Northern Territory 1870–1940’, Hecate, vol. 19, no. 1 (1991), 73–92.Google Scholar
  5. 3.
    Jackie Huggins, Jo Willmot, Isabel Tarrago, Kathy Willetts, Liz Bond, Lillian Holt, Eleanor Bourke, Maryann Bin-Salik, Pat Fowell, Joann Schmider, Valerie Craigie and Linda McBride-Levi, ‘Letter to the Editors’, Women’s Studies International Forum, vol. 1, no. 5 (1991), 505–13, 506.Google Scholar
  6. 5.
    S. Gilbert and S. Gubar, quoted in Heilbrun, Writing a Woman’s Life (1988), 33.Google Scholar

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© Victoria K. Haskins 2005

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  • Victoria K. Haskins

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