Walking through the mining fields, Norman tells us how the old people used to work the fields, but the young people don’t work anymore, and drink too much grog. Norman says that white people arrived with a noodling machine, and this allowed them to get a larger portion of the opals. Norman speaks about the greed of the white people who came in with bulldozers, and told them that the black fellas wanted some money too. Norman digs through a hill with a stick. Summary by Romaine Moreton.
The competition for opals between the noodlers put the Indigenous peoples at a disadvantage through the lack of access to technology that would increase their haul. Norman explains that there seemed to be a sense of equity on the mining fields before the noodling machines and bulldozers arrived that allowed white noodlers to dominate.
A documentary about Mr Norman Hayes Jagamarra who was a 'noodler’ on the mining fields of Coober Pedy.
Norman Hayes Jagamarra takes us back to the mining fields of Coober Pedy where he was a noodler after droving and brick making work dried up in his young years. An interesting tale of one man’s experience of noodling, and the sense of community he shared with other Indigenous people whilst doing this work. Most importantly, he refers to the old people who were already there, and gives recognition to the Indigenous people of the area. It allows us to ponder the effects of the dispossession that opal mining caused for the peoples who were the original custodians of the Coober Pedy area.
This program has also screened on NITV, National Indigenous Television.
Notes by Romaine Moreton
This clip shows Norman Hayes Jagamarra walking through the mullocks of the opal mines around Coober Pedy talking about how he and the old people used to search for opal, and how many ‘whitefellas are getting greedy’ and taking too much opal. The mined landscape is shown, including a working noodling machine. Jagamarra uses a stick to dig around in a mullock heap for opal. He narrates his story in Aboriginal English and the clip includes English subtitles and slow mournful music.
Education notes provided by The Learning Federation and Education Services Australia