Stealing my Dad


by Dora Griffiths Gerrgnarri
45 x 45cm
Natural pigment on canvas


Dora has depicted a true event which happened to her father Alan Griffiths when he was a young boy. In the late 1930's Alan was living at Victoria River Downs Station in the Northern Territory with his mother. His father had run off when Alan was a baby. The manager at that station was a good man. One day the station's head stockman decided to take Alan on a trip and that’s what he had told the station manager and Alan's mother. Alan's grandfather had a bad feeling so he decided to follow but took a short cut to where they were going and stayed at a distance in the hills. At Jasper Gorge the head stockman tied Alan to a tree, (indicated in the painting). Alan's grandfather waited until it was dark and sang a song called Balligan - which makes a person fall into a deep sleep. When the stockman fell asleep, Alan's grandfather quickly and quietly ran and untied Alan from the tree. They ran into the bush, covered their tracks and hid living off the land. When the head stockman returned without Dora's father the manager got angry and sacked him. While living in the bush for a number of years Alan's grandfather taught him about bush foods, how to make traditional weapons for hunting and knowledge of country. Almost everything that Alan knows was taught to him by his grandfather. If Dora's father had been taken he wouldn't have met his wife Peggy. He would not have all this important knowledge to pass onto his kids and grand kids. This tree still stands to this day and for Alan it is a reminder of how close he came to becoming a Stolen Generation child.