I'd like to express
thanks and appreciation to Esme Russell Timbery and elder John Timbery
for permission to sing the song. The song is about
an aboriginal who went away from Moreton Bay Island who upon returning to Kyalba
said 'My people have all passed away, I'm the only one left.' Shirley
explained 'The song is very sacred, also very sad'. Shirley
Fish, also known as Shirley Timbery, was an Arnhem Land aboriginal
at La Perouse in Sydney in 1959 when this song was recorded by Hazel de
to translate the lyrics of this song proved difficult and consumed more
time than research on all the other songs in the project combined. I
still believe the task is achievable and hope to supply more detail in the
future. The results of what may be a small success in these endeavours
are included below.
After scanning many Aboriginal to English dictionaries covering a range
of dialects I discovered the word 'menindie' often represented the concept of 'serpent'. In a book by John Tully some words that stood out the most was the phrase 'lil lip . . . menindie'
(similar to Fish's 'lu lu . . . menindie'), which appears to be a variation on the phrase 'the scales of the serpent',
a phrase considered to be a reference to 'small pox' by aboriginal
people. Small pox was prevalent in early colonial Australia and is regarded
by some as a contributing cause for the decline of the Aboriginal population
during those years, more particularly in southern Victoria. The convict, William Buckley, who had survived smallpox
himself and who bore facial scars from the disease is quoted as having
seen these same scars upon the faces of Aboriginal Elders on the Bellarine Peninsula, Victoria. The disease
may have been spread to Victorian shores by whalers before Victoria was
colonised and thence to northern parts of Australia. This is merely one theory and I'm continuing to pursue a more accurate translation of these lyrics.