Flora Hoolihan lived with my uncle Bert Cook (my father's eldest sibling) for about a decade after the second world war. Together they had a daughter, my cousin Janet. Flora's family history is one of the most remarkable you'll ever hear. It has already been covered in a book, a TV documentary and now there is a musical:
MOUNT Isa's Megan Sarmardin has written a musical which tells the story of the women in her family, but focuses mainly on her 97-year-old great grandmother Flora Hoolihan, who lives at Garbutt.
She says the 85-minute story she calls Little Birung is a musical theatre piece based on the true-life tales told to her by Flora, who was the daughter of a Russian father Leandro Ilin and a tribal Ngadjon woman called Kitty from the Atherton Tableland. Leandro's father Nikolai was a friend of the great Russian writer Tolstoy, but after becoming embroiled in the politics of the revolution he fled to Argentina before coming to Australia with his son. Megan says the other women in her life - including her mother and grandmother - all feature in the musical. "I go back to my great grandmother's grandmother who died on Palm Island in 1955. There's six generations of women. When I perform in Townsville my great grandmother, my grandmother and my mother will be there. I'm really looking forward to it." Megan is the sole performer in the show. She tells the stories and sings the songs. The entire performance goes for 85 minutes. You can catch it here on April 29 at the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Centre in Flinders Street East near the Museum of Tropical North Queensland. The theatre opens at 6pm for dinner with Little Birung starting at 7.30pm. Tickets are available through The Ticket Shop, phone 4727 9797.
Here I am with my Aunty Flora and my cousin Janet, a few years ago, at Flora's place in Garbutt.