The Cootamundra Herald continues its weekly feature profiling some of the many interesting people living in our community. To coincide with NAIDOC Week, we caught up with Wiradjuri elder Bob Glanville.
If you ask Bob Glanville what he thinks of Cootamundra, he’s got a simple answer.
“It’s the best town in the world, people here are very friendly,” Mr Glanville said.
While Mr Glanville was born and bred in Cootamundra – he says it was a coincidence that his family made their home here.
Mr Glanville’s grandmother lived at the Aboriginal mission at Brungle near Tumut.
At the time, a government welfare department was taking children from families and Mr Glanville said his grandmother wanted to protect his mum, then aged three.
“They walked from Brungle to Cootamundra because grandma’s brother was from Cootamundra,” he said.
“Grandma was lucky enough to get a nanny position with the Conkey family.”
Mr Glanville said her employment with the prominent family helped protect her children and grandchildren from being taken to institutions or placed with another family.
Mr Glanville was born in 1938.
“My mother wasn’t allowed to give birth in the Cootamundra District Hospital, I was born in a private surgery here in Parker Street, across the road from the Army drill hall,” he said.
“Until the mid-1970s our children and grandchildren had to be careful not to use (Wiradjuri) language in the street.”
Being able to celebrate Wiradjuri culture during NAIDOC Week was a “transformational” change.
At school, Mr Glanville showed a talent for winning 100 and 200 metre sprints.
He says fellow student and future international rugby union player Beres Ellwood, who was a few years older, questioned why Mr Glanville didn’t get selected for higher level school carnivals.
“Beres said ‘Bobby G was faster’ and he asked the headmaster why he didn’t get picked, he was told there were ‘other factors’,” Mr Glanville said.
After school Mr Glanville worked at the flour mill and as a butcher before working as a senior manager with the Department of Family Services.
“My mum was the first Aboriginal person in her family to be able to read and write in English,” Mr Glanville said.
He said that sparked a love of education in his family, which continued with his grandson Peter Beath being awarded a doctorate in Wiradjuri language.
“My family wouldn’t be as successful as they are without the education and principles bestowed upon us by our grandmothers, mothers and wives,” Mr Glanville said.