Obituary: Violet Bulger

Respected Ngunnawal elder, by Ann Jackson-Nakano

The Canberra Times

6 August 1993

One of the Ngunnawal People's most respected elders, Mrs. Violet Bulger, died in her sleep last weekend at Morling Lodge Nursing Home in Red Hill. She was 93.

Mrs. Bulger was born in 1900 at Brungle mission. Her father was Fred Freeman, the well-known "black tracker" who later lived with his family at Wee Jasper.

Her mother, Sarah Broughton, was said to be the daughter of John Archer Broughton whose father William Broughton, was one of the three first European men to discover and settle in Yass (the others were Hamilton Hume and George Barber).

One of her serving daughters, Mrs. Agnes Shea, recalls that although her mother had had a very hard and sad life, she never became embittered.

Along with her younger sister, Matilda, she was one of the first Aboriginal children taken from their parents by Catholic missionaries and placed in a children's home, where she trained as a domestic servant.

She did not return to Brungle until she was in her early twenties.

Mrs. Bulger spent most of her working life in domestic service and was much sought after. After her marriage to Vincent Bulger in 1925, she gave birth to 10 children and raised many of her grandchildren after their parents had passed away.

The family was moved to Hollywood, the Aboriginal mission in Yass, in the 1930s and Mrs. Bulger was asked to work as the caretaker.

She identified strongly as a member of the Ngunnawal tribe, the original inhabitants of the Canberra, Yass, Boorowa, Queanbeyan, Goulburn and Tumut region. She represented her community for decades during some difficult years.

Five generations of Mrs. Bulger's family will be joined by many members of the Ngunnawal community at her funeral at St Augustine's Catholic Church in Yass on Friday.