Victorian Seniors Festival Reimagined 2020

Murray Harrison - Week 23

Bec Reid

Hello, I’m Bec Reid, and it’s great to have you with us that the Victorian Seniors Festival Reimagined in 2020. This week, we’re exploring courage and some extraordinary community members. One of those incredible humans is Uncle Murray Harrison, a proud Wotjobaluk man, joining us from Ballarat. Uncle shares with us what courage means to him and where it lives in his life. Hi, Uncle Murray. Good to see you. Uncle Murray, what do you like most about Ballarat?

Uncle Murray Harrison

My wife, Norma.

Bec Reid

That was a very good answer, Uncle Murray. Great answer.

Uncle Murray Harrison

If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be here, actually.

Bec Reid

Now, this Ballarat love story doesn’t start easily. Where does it start?

Uncle Murray Harrison

The story starts with being taken - The Stolen Generation - as a 10 year old. We went to a terrible place in Melbourne called the Turana Youth Centre and, of course, early this year I think, they were in the news with how brutal they were and I say, now that’s 70 plus years ago and nothing’s changed in the 70 years ago. I was there as a 10 year old and into a little dark room, thrown on the floor and told "get in a little black bastard. We’ll deal with in the morning". They looked like me, like I was a nothing and then, of course, in the morning - cut my hair off, tried to scrub the black off me and I’m still black after I had the shower and, of course, I say the dark room and it had a shutter steel door and turned the lock. Now, for 60 years, I’d sometimes wake up in the middle of the night, screaming because of this lock in the door and I can never sleep in a dark room. A dark room just totally killed me. It wasn’t until I came here to Ballarat that I had some sort of an idea of the - what I need to do outside of the tribal family, I suppose you’d call it but what happened, as I say, with the dark room and being took and treated like nothing. And then, of course, as all blackfellas do, being away from country and culture and people, took to alcohol and, by the time I’m 18, I reckon I’m about two drinks away from actually killing myself with metho and milk. That’s how bad I was but, fortunately, this young girl, as I said, my wife, the thing is, we met when we were 14 years old now. Now, of course, I was going to be the, at the time, the next great AFL footballer. His name was Ron Barassi, but you can’t be a drunk, an alcoholic and play good football. Of course, as I said, my wife and Bunjil - we call him God. We call him Bunjil. The old man said "Murray Harrison, wake up to yourself".  I’m sooking, no, I don’t want to do this. "Get on with it because, if you don’t, you ain’t gonna make it". Fortunately, I asked this lady to marry me, this young girl. She said, yes and the best decision I ever made. I didn’t make many but at the time and fortunately, she said yet. But, of course, I go back and tell - of course, I’m a ward of the state - and I go back and tell them. "No, you can’t marry her". "What are you talking about?".  Got to get somebody to sign a piece of paper to say that you can get married. What absolute rubbish. At the time, they had conscription to, you know, to do national service. They were going to send me away to Korea. Now, they could have sent me down there without a second thought. Where I was actually born, was about, oh, I don’t know, about 10 or 12 miles from Dimboola Hospital. So, the actual place, I think, where I was the born at, was a place called Antwerp. It was just a little settlement. Was run by the Morovian Monks.  We got married in the September. In fact, the 14th of this - the 15th of this month, we would have been married 64 years.

Bec Reid

Can you tell us what Bunjil means for you?

Uncle Murray Harrison

All my life, Bunjil seemed to be there, whether it was the guy from the monastery or wherever it was, right down through. I wouldn’t have done half the things that I’ve done because you need a direction and Bunjil, for me, is the way to make my life work. For me to be able to say "Righto, get rid of this stinking alcohol. That’s not for you. He’s got something better" and it was and I said, it allowed me and my wife to really get our lives together and, of course, get our family. We have four children. We have seven grandchildren and, to top things off, we have five great grandchildren. Now, I could see grandchildren but I could never see great grandchildren and, as I say, we’re very fortunate and we have four boys and a month - two months ago, we added a great granddaughter and her name’s Stevie.

Bec Reid

How do you explain courage to others?

Uncle Murray Harrison

We talk about courage. What - what -what actually is courage? Courage is not, you know, going out, as in the old days, to fight the dragon, to win the war or run the crusade. No, it is getting up in the morning and saying, "Right, I can do this". You might not get out like you did, you know, when you were 18 or 20, you’d drag yourself out of bed.

Bec Reid

Uncle, I know music is a big part of your life. Can we hear a song?

[Uncle Murray, singing]

Beautiful land

Beautiful land

I now understand

Why it is called

My beautiful land

 

I dreamed of a land

On which I could stand

I look to the past to see if it could last

In a vision, I saw

Wow it was before

These people came

Our land to claim

 

They came here by sea

Amazing to me

Their ships were like clouds

Rode the waters so proud

Their faces so white

It was a strange sight

This coming of man

To a beautiful land

 

Beautiful land

Beautiful land

I now understand

Why it is called

My beautiful land

Bec Reid

Uncle, thank you so much for sharing your courageous heart with us, Bunjil’s wisdom and I truly feel all the more courageous for spending this time with you. Thanks, Uncle.

Uncle Murray Harrison

Too easy.

" />
29 September 2020
Duration: 8:12

Music has always been a source of comfort to Uncle Murray Harrison who spent most of his childhood at a Ballarat orphanage as a member of the Stolen Generation.

 

Visit Murray's Performer Profile

Victorian Seniors Festival Reimagined 2020

Murray Harrison - Week 23

Bec Reid

Hello, I’m Bec Reid, and it’s great to have you with us that the Victorian Seniors Festival Reimagined in 2020. This week, we’re exploring courage and some extraordinary community members. One of those incredible humans is Uncle Murray Harrison, a proud Wotjobaluk man, joining us from Ballarat. Uncle shares with us what courage means to him and where it lives in his life. Hi, Uncle Murray. Good to see you. Uncle Murray, what do you like most about Ballarat?

Uncle Murray Harrison

My wife, Norma.

Bec Reid

That was a very good answer, Uncle Murray. Great answer.

Uncle Murray Harrison

If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be here, actually.

Bec Reid

Now, this Ballarat love story doesn’t start easily. Where does it start?

Uncle Murray Harrison

The story starts with being taken - The Stolen Generation - as a 10 year old. We went to a terrible place in Melbourne called the Turana Youth Centre and, of course, early this year I think, they were in the news with how brutal they were and I say, now that’s 70 plus years ago and nothing’s changed in the 70 years ago. I was there as a 10 year old and into a little dark room, thrown on the floor and told "get in a little black bastard. We’ll deal with in the morning". They looked like me, like I was a nothing and then, of course, in the morning - cut my hair off, tried to scrub the black off me and I’m still black after I had the shower and, of course, I say the dark room and it had a shutter steel door and turned the lock. Now, for 60 years, I’d sometimes wake up in the middle of the night, screaming because of this lock in the door and I can never sleep in a dark room. A dark room just totally killed me. It wasn’t until I came here to Ballarat that I had some sort of an idea of the - what I need to do outside of the tribal family, I suppose you’d call it but what happened, as I say, with the dark room and being took and treated like nothing. And then, of course, as all blackfellas do, being away from country and culture and people, took to alcohol and, by the time I’m 18, I reckon I’m about two drinks away from actually killing myself with metho and milk. That’s how bad I was but, fortunately, this young girl, as I said, my wife, the thing is, we met when we were 14 years old now. Now, of course, I was going to be the, at the time, the next great AFL footballer. His name was Ron Barassi, but you can’t be a drunk, an alcoholic and play good football. Of course, as I said, my wife and Bunjil - we call him God. We call him Bunjil. The old man said "Murray Harrison, wake up to yourself".  I’m sooking, no, I don’t want to do this. "Get on with it because, if you don’t, you ain’t gonna make it". Fortunately, I asked this lady to marry me, this young girl. She said, yes and the best decision I ever made. I didn’t make many but at the time and fortunately, she said yet. But, of course, I go back and tell - of course, I’m a ward of the state - and I go back and tell them. "No, you can’t marry her". "What are you talking about?".  Got to get somebody to sign a piece of paper to say that you can get married. What absolute rubbish. At the time, they had conscription to, you know, to do national service. They were going to send me away to Korea. Now, they could have sent me down there without a second thought. Where I was actually born, was about, oh, I don’t know, about 10 or 12 miles from Dimboola Hospital. So, the actual place, I think, where I was the born at, was a place called Antwerp. It was just a little settlement. Was run by the Morovian Monks.  We got married in the September. In fact, the 14th of this - the 15th of this month, we would have been married 64 years.

Bec Reid

Can you tell us what Bunjil means for you?

Uncle Murray Harrison

All my life, Bunjil seemed to be there, whether it was the guy from the monastery or wherever it was, right down through. I wouldn’t have done half the things that I’ve done because you need a direction and Bunjil, for me, is the way to make my life work. For me to be able to say "Righto, get rid of this stinking alcohol. That’s not for you. He’s got something better" and it was and I said, it allowed me and my wife to really get our lives together and, of course, get our family. We have four children. We have seven grandchildren and, to top things off, we have five great grandchildren. Now, I could see grandchildren but I could never see great grandchildren and, as I say, we’re very fortunate and we have four boys and a month - two months ago, we added a great granddaughter and her name’s Stevie.

Bec Reid

How do you explain courage to others?

Uncle Murray Harrison

We talk about courage. What - what -what actually is courage? Courage is not, you know, going out, as in the old days, to fight the dragon, to win the war or run the crusade. No, it is getting up in the morning and saying, "Right, I can do this". You might not get out like you did, you know, when you were 18 or 20, you’d drag yourself out of bed.

Bec Reid

Uncle, I know music is a big part of your life. Can we hear a song?

[Uncle Murray, singing]

Beautiful land

Beautiful land

I now understand

Why it is called

My beautiful land

 

I dreamed of a land

On which I could stand

I look to the past to see if it could last

In a vision, I saw

Wow it was before

These people came

Our land to claim

 

They came here by sea

Amazing to me

Their ships were like clouds

Rode the waters so proud

Their faces so white

It was a strange sight

This coming of man

To a beautiful land

 

Beautiful land

Beautiful land

I now understand

Why it is called

My beautiful land

Bec Reid

Uncle, thank you so much for sharing your courageous heart with us, Bunjil’s wisdom and I truly feel all the more courageous for spending this time with you. Thanks, Uncle.

Uncle Murray Harrison

Too easy.