When I stayed with Tricia Reust (last Blog) she spoke many times of an Aboriginal woman, named MAROOCHY BARAMBAH, who was very active in bettering life for her people. Unfortunately, when I was there she was traveling elsewhere. I later found that she is a mezzo-soprano singer who is of the Turrbal-Gubbi Gubbi people and is a member of the Stolen Generations. She considers herself a beneficiary of her removal. As a tribute to her Aboriginality she took the names Maroochy (meaning "black swan") and Barambah (meaning "source of the western wind". She was born Yvette Isaacs in the 1950s in Cherbourg, Queensland.
At the age of 12 she was taken from her family and fostered out to a family in Melbourne. This movement was an effort by the government to separate children from their heritage. She later attended the Melba Conservatorium of Music in Melbourne and Victorian College of the Arts where she graduated in Dramatic Arts in 1979.
Maroochy rose to fame for her part in the 1989 Sydney Metropolitan Opera production of “Black River”, by Julianne and Andrew Schultz, an opera about black deaths in custody. She also appeared in the indigenous musical “Bran Nue Dae”, the 1981 television series “Women of the Sun”, and in the opera “Beach Dreaming”, written for and about her by Mark Isaacs.
Maroochy has also had extensive community involvement over many years working with the younger generation of Indigenous Australians in the arts industry. She has delivered several lectures on Aboriginal culture in various institutions and was a keynote speaker at the Australian Reconciliation Convention in Melbourne in May 1997.
Tricia has painted her several times. She certainly captures “the soul” of this remarkable woman who has a strong sense of who she is, her heritage and her role.
She comes from a songline, so she never doubted that she would end up singing. But Aboriginal music was not always as accepted as it is today. “If you come from your roots, you don’t have to impress people. We as a nation are coming to a point where we feel more comfortable with ourselves and with our culture."