Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery
Ila Purdon AM
missing image file

Old and new, 2009
bull kelp (Durvillaea potatorum),
river reed (Schoenoplectus pungens),
tea tree (Melaleuca sp.)
115x125x85 mm


‘I am from a strong Aboriginal family, and have been involved in Community activities along with my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. We are a family of five generations.’

Ila Purdon (Aunty Girlie) was born on the Cape Barren Island Reserve in 1921 and spent most of her childhood on Flinders Island with her siblings and parents, Henry and Ivy Armstong.

Her father Henry moved about the island quite a bit through his work. Ila would assist him with fencing, tending to sheep and cattle, ploughing, and general farm work. One of her earliest jobs was snaring kangaroo, and skinning and drying them out to send to Launceston to earn wages for her family. Ila’s family life was a happy one, and they would walk many miles to see Auntys and Uncles or to attend local dances.

While still living on Flinders Island, Ila married a fisherman from Hobart and they had four children. Later her family moved to Hobart where she worked in domestic service for many years.

Ila raised her children to be proud of their Aboriginality, and has always been interested in her Community, cultural practices, and heritage. She likes nothing better than telling stories to her family about growing up on the islands. Ila loves to cook for her family, especially the old way of cooking meals, such as baked mutton birds, fat cakes, and damper. All her children and great grandchildren go birding.