Mibala Histri - Barunga's history returns home

Date: Sep 20, 2021

Publication Type: Blog

Subject: Newspaper

Tears, joys, hugs and laughter are shared after Barunga's community collection of photographs from the 1970s and 1980s were released at this year's festival in June.

Mibala Histri on the big screen.

THE NLC and Library and Archives NT (LANT) presented a collection of photographs from the 1970s and 1980s back to the Barunga community on behalf of a former Bamyili School teacher at this year’s Barunga Festival in June. 

Ruth Jones was a teacher at Barunga School (formerly known as Bamyili School) from 1976 to 1981 and recently left the NT, donating her photos to LANT. 

Her photographs, shot on a combination of black & white and colour film, document life at Barunga community 50 years ago. 

The collection of 145 images, named Mibala Histri - Our History in Kriol - was gifted to the Barunga community on the night before the Festival opening through a slideshow presentation. There were tears, squeals and laughter as locals pointed out family members and reminisced on growing up in the community.

The photos in the Mibala Histri collection were taken between 1976 and 1981.

Tracey Camfoo and Anita Painter both attended Bamyili School and were pleased to receive the collection of photographs to use for safekeeping and as a time capsule for the community. For Tracey, seeing the photos brought back happy memories of her school days, and growing up with her elders. 

"It reminds me of how they would teach us all the important things in life," she said.

Anita Painter now works as the Language & Culture teacher at Barunga School, teaching topics like clan groups, country and Traditional Land. She said she was looking forward to using the photo collection as a teaching resource, to show her students how life at Bamyili used to be and inspire them to want to learn differently. 

"When we were growing up, we had a lot of strong leaders and elders. We had a deep respect for our elders back then. We had the opportunity to go out on country, and learn things out there instead of being in the classroom all the time," Ms Painter said. 

"It’s going to be hard to get the new generations of kids taught the way I was taught because now we have only a few elders left. But with this book of old photos, just by looking at it, it gives the new generations a clear picture of what our school was like back then." 

Barunga community members also had the chance to sit down and look through the printed collection with fellow former teacher Elizabeth Walker, who worked alongside Ruth Jones. "We didn’t even know that they had all these important photos, so we want to thank NLC and Library and Archives NT for keeping that and sharing it with us," Ms Painter said.

Sisters Tracy Camfoo and Anita Painter.