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  1. #1
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    ‘I did this to make her proud’: How Dogs great embraced his family’s sad truth



    Lindsay Gilbee always felt a deep yet unexplainable connection to this country’s land.

    He never quite knew why and struggled to properly articulate the link to himself or others. But it was there, deep inside of him as far back as his memory allowed.
    When Aboriginal footballer Zephaniah Skinner arrived at the Dogs from a town six hours inland of Broome in late 2010, Gilbee took him under his wing without a second thought. They would spend quality time together hunting and camping

    • tts talks flag copyright


    And now it all makes sense to Gilbee, who has made the discovery of a lifetime.
    At the age of 38, the crisply skilled ex-half-back flanker, recently found out his grandmother on his mum‘s side of the family was Aboriginal.

    For Gilbee, who played 206 games for the Western Bulldogs and represented Australia in International Rules on four occasions,
    unearthing his Aboriginality has strengthened his sense of self and given him a realisation of what his soul already knew.


    His Aboriginality was kept from his family by his ‘Nonna’ for more than 90 years, who passed away two months ago, aged 93.

    Her mother – Gilbee’s great-grandmother – died in the minutes after she gave birth in 1927.

    Gilbee’s ‘Nonna’, whose father was white and she never knew, was shipped off to an Aboriginal mission as a baby and was raised at the time of racism and discrimination under the Assimilation policy of the country.


    This fear crippled her in revealing her Aboriginality and the potential cost it would have on her family.

    She took her stories to her grave.
    “The reason I went down this path in acknowledging my Aboriginality is to make her proud,” Gilbee revealed in a one-on-one interview with foxfooty.com.au .
    Lindsay Gilbee gets chaired off after playing his 200th game.
    Source: News Limited
    Gilbee’s life-changing discovery – following an in-depth search from his mother’s cousin spanning more than a year – has aroused his sense of belonging to a level he never believed existed.

    He was Lindsay Gilbee the retired footballer, father and husband. He’s still those things of course, but now he’s also Lindsay Gilbee: A proud Booandik man.


    Gilbee’s clan connections and homelands is an area in South Australia, not far from Mt Gambier. In recent months he has uncovered more and looks forward to connecting and learning about his family and people.


    His existence – for the better – will never be the same again.

    “It has changed me forever,” he said.
    “I am super proud.”

    It‘s difficult to imagine a man of Gilbee’s natural inquisitiveness not being aware of such an important element of his past.

    But the 20th century was littered with race struggles in this country and others. He believes it was easier for his maternal grandmother to protect her Aboriginality in a racist society.

    She was 40 years old by the time both houses of Parliament unanimously passed the act which allowed her to vote in a federal election and she was 43 when Aboriginal kids stopped being stolen from their parents by authorities and put into ‘white’ homes.


    She was 81 when an Australian Prime Minister finally apologised for decades of abhorrent mistreatment inflicted upon Indigenous Australians.


    “Back when she was growing up, you were frowned upon if you were Aboriginal,” Gilbee said.

    “It wasn’t something to be proud of like it is now.
    “She obviously kept it quiet for many years. She hid it for a long time.
    “When I found out, we were all a little bit shocked to a point.”


    Gilbee turned 39 on July 8. For the previous 38 years of his life, he had been unable to truly explain his connection to the land and Aboriginal people.

    Though he was taken aback by the information his mother‘s cousin was able to uncover, he has begun putting the pieces of his childhood puzzle together.

    “It probably says a lot about me as a person and who I am and my love for the Australian bush and earth,” he said.
    “Every time an Indigenous player came to the club like Skinner or Liam Jones it felt as if I was a little bit drawn to them. It was interesting.

    “In a way, I feel like every time I’m out there I have a real connection to the land.”

    Gilbee was close to his grandmother. She would babysit him as a child and they remained tight as he grew into one of the most skilful footballers in the AFL.

    But they never discussed her background or where she came from, even though some family members had a sense there was another branch to the family tree.

    “My mum kind of knew,” he said.

    “I’m not saying she hid it, but she had a real good suspicion… My Nonna meant a lot to me. We were very close.”

    Gilbee’s Aboriginality is like all Australia’s First Peoples, it is connected to the thousands of generations: The oldest living culture in the world. Only the Covid-19 outbreak has held him back from becoming more involved in the community and discovering his family and peoples story.

    He remembers playing in Darwin with the Dogs like it was yesterday. In fact, it was June, 2009.

    “Looking back, a lot of it makes sense,” he said.

    “There was something innate.

    “I always loved my time playing in Darwin and spending time in the Tiwi Islands. I met a little Indigenous kid called Lindsay Gilbee. I have a photo at home of us two together.
    “A lot of families up there name their kids after players and there was a little Lindsay Gilbee up there.”

    Lindsay Gilbee and Lindsay Gilbee.
    Source: Supplied
    Gilbee has also grown closer to his cousin Aaron, who has embarked on a similar journey courtesy of a shared allegiance to their grandmother.

    It was Aaron’s mother who dug deep to uncover the family’s Indigenous story.

    “I’ve been extremely lucky to be accepted by a community called Willum Warrain,” Gilbee continued.
    “They are based out of Hastings and they run traditional ceremonies and Aboriginal cultural activities. That is who my cousin Aaron joined.

    He is from that area. I’ve decided to join the community alongside him.

    “The board accepted me and I’m extremely happy they have.”

    Coincidence or otherwise, it makes sense that as a player he modelled his game on Andrew McLeod. From afar he marvelled at Cyril Rioli, Shaun Burgoyne, Adam Goodes and Lance Franklin.


    Gilbee said he now views offensive remarks through a slightly different lens.

    He added: “I always had a footy in my hands growing up and learning that way. I was always up in the paddocks kicking the footy. I felt that I had that.”

    Gilbee hopes to provide counsel and guidance to young Indigenous people for the Western Bulldogs in the future, when life gets back to normal.


    He also plans to educate his two boys on their family history and reconnect with his community.

    But Oliver is seven and Darcy is just two years old and they aren’t yet ready to fully appreciate the journey their dad has walked.

    “They are still young,” Gilbee explained.

    “It is something I will do with them in time most definitely.”
    For now, Gilbee – who has stepped away from coaching Port Melbourne Colts – will endeavour to strengthen and explore his Aboriginality in any meaningful way he can, forever with his late grandmother front of mind.

    “It’s something to be extremely proud of,” he said.

    “If people have a problem coming out to say if they are Indigenous, I think they are silly. You should be proud of wherever you come from.
    “I certainly am.”

    LINK
    Premierships: AFL 1954, 2016 VFA - 1898,99,1900, 1908, 1913, 1919-20, 1923-24, VFL: 2014, 2016 . Champions of Victoria 1924. AFLW - 2018.

  2. #2
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    Re: ‘I did this to make her proud’: How Dogs great embraced his family’s sad truth

    Amazing story.

    I enjoyed watching Gilbee play - such a beautiful kick. I recall there was talk of him leaving once (to Sydney?) however he stayed which was great for the Dogs.

  3. #3
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    Re: ‘I did this to make her proud’: How Dogs great embraced his family’s sad truth

    That's wonderful for Lindsay. Many more stories out there. Hopefully people can discover their history before it's too late.

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    Re: ‘I did this to make her proud’: How Dogs great embraced his family’s sad truth

    One of the best bulldogs i've had the pleasure of watching over many years and have spoken to in person.
    There are only a small handful of players that when you speak to them you know they are genuine people that have your 100% attention, no media performance or pretense. Gilbs and Morris are the top two that i have met.

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    Re: ‘I did this to make her proud’: How Dogs great embraced his family’s sad truth

    Great news. Amazing heritage. The innate instincts, connection with the land and people, 40 thousand year culture.

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    Re: ‘I did this to make her proud’: How Dogs great embraced his family’s sad truth

    Fantastic story and exactly what happend to me.

    My great grandmother was what Europeans called half-caste and gave birth to my grandmother on an Aboriginal mission in Western Victoria in 1925. My great grans was raped by a white man. The child, my grandmother, was removed from the mission almost immediately and became one of the stolen generation. She was adopted and raised by a Dutch couple, a seafarer and his wife, in Melbourne. She grew up in Footscray during the depression knowing nothing of her Aboriginality. Her adopted parents died in a car crash in Footscray when she was 17 in 1942.

    She had nothing from here but could ride a horse so lied about her age and volunteered for the Army and it was only then that they could not find a birth certificate for her. She said she was adopted so they took her anyway and she spent the next three years riding a horse as a messenger for the Americans stationed outside Darwin. During this time the ADF informed her that they found her adoption papers and that she was a Gunditj Mirring woman from Portland. Such a shock to her. I was raised believing I was 100% European because Grans never told anyone UNTIL I interviewed her about her war experiences for a uni project when I was 27 in 1999 and she casually told me. That's how I found out. That's a 55 year long secret!

    This was such a life changing experience for me as I'm sure it is for Lindsay. I have met Lindsay a few times and would never have known we were both Aboriginal. My Uncle met both Griffon and Gilbee at the Beeac pub one night and offered his property in the Otways for them to shoot on. They came down 3 or 4 times to hunt. The irony of my story is that I'm an archaeologist and have been working direct with Aboriginal communities since 1995 and up until 1999 people used to ask if I was Aboriginal and I would always say no. They would say to me are you sure you camp like a blackfella.

    Amazing story to hear.
    Josh Schache >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Jake Stringer

  10. #7
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    Re: ‘I did this to make her proud’: How Dogs great embraced his family’s sad truth

    Incredible story.

    Also amazing follow up 1eyedog. That camping anecdote is crazy

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  12. #8
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    Re: ‘I did this to make her proud’: How Dogs great embraced his family’s sad truth

    Quote Originally Posted by 1eyedog View Post
    Fantastic story and exactly what happend to me.

    My great grandmother was what Europeans called half-caste and gave birth to my grandmother on an Aboriginal mission in Western Victoria in 1925. My great grans was raped by a white man. The child, my grandmother, was removed from the mission almost immediately and became one of the stolen generation. She was adopted and raised by a Dutch couple, a seafarer and his wife, in Melbourne. She grew up in Footscray during the depression knowing nothing of her Aboriginality. Her adopted parents died in a car crash in Footscray when she was 17 in 1942.

    She had nothing from here but could ride a horse so lied about her age and volunteered for the Army and it was only then that they could not find a birth certificate for her. She said she was adopted so they took her anyway and she spent the next three years riding a horse as a messenger for the Americans stationed outside Darwin. During this time the ADF informed her that they found her adoption papers and that she was a Gunditj Mirring woman from Portland. Such a shock to her. I was raised believing I was 100% European because Grans never told anyone UNTIL I interviewed her about her war experiences for a uni project when I was 27 in 1999 and she casually told me. That's how I found out. That's a 55 year long secret!

    This was such a life changing experience for me as I'm sure it is for Lindsay. I have met Lindsay a few times and would never have known we were both Aboriginal. My Uncle met both Griffon and Gilbee at the Beeac pub one night and offered his property in the Otways for them to shoot on. They came down 3 or 4 times to hunt. The irony of my story is that I'm an archaeologist and have been working direct with Aboriginal communities since 1995 and up until 1999 people used to ask if I was Aboriginal and I would always say no. They would say to me are you sure you camp like a blackfella.

    Amazing story to hear.
    Many people of that era never admitted to being of aboriginal descent for fear of racism and fear of not being given a fair go. So disgraceful that people were treated this way, especially native Australians who owned the land and country.

    Thank you for your story 1eyedog, you should be proud to be part of the original people of this country.
    Premierships: AFL 1954, 2016 VFA - 1898,99,1900, 1908, 1913, 1919-20, 1923-24, VFL: 2014, 2016 . Champions of Victoria 1924. AFLW - 2018.

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  14. #9
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    Re: ‘I did this to make her proud’: How Dogs great embraced his family’s sad truth

    Quote Originally Posted by 1eyedog View Post
    Fantastic story and exactly what happend to me.

    My great grandmother was what Europeans called half-caste and gave birth to my grandmother on an Aboriginal mission in Western Victoria in 1925. My great grans was raped by a white man. The child, my grandmother, was removed from the mission almost immediately and became one of the stolen generation. She was adopted and raised by a Dutch couple, a seafarer and his wife, in Melbourne. She grew up in Footscray during the depression knowing nothing of her Aboriginality. Her adopted parents died in a car crash in Footscray when she was 17 in 1942.

    She had nothing from here but could ride a horse so lied about her age and volunteered for the Army and it was only then that they could not find a birth certificate for her. She said she was adopted so they took her anyway and she spent the next three years riding a horse as a messenger for the Americans stationed outside Darwin. During this time the ADF informed her that they found her adoption papers and that she was a Gunditj Mirring woman from Portland. Such a shock to her. I was raised believing I was 100% European because Grans never told anyone UNTIL I interviewed her about her war experiences for a uni project when I was 27 in 1999 and she casually told me. That's how I found out. That's a 55 year long secret!

    This was such a life changing experience for me as I'm sure it is for Lindsay. I have met Lindsay a few times and would never have known we were both Aboriginal. My Uncle met both Griffon and Gilbee at the Beeac pub one night and offered his property in the Otways for them to shoot on. They came down 3 or 4 times to hunt. The irony of my story is that I'm an archaeologist and have been working direct with Aboriginal communities since 1995 and up until 1999 people used to ask if I was Aboriginal and I would always say no. They would say to me are you sure you camp like a blackfella.

    Amazing story to hear.
    What a woman. Make sure you've got any recollections written down just in case something happens to you. A proud history to pass on to your descendants.
    A lot went on in the western district and elsewhere in the early days and while nothing can change the past, hopefully we can all do our bit for the future.
    And good to see my old stomping ground, Beeac, get a mention.

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  16. #10
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    Re: ‘I did this to make her proud’: How Dogs great embraced his family’s sad truth

    Love Lindsay Gilbee - a magnificent footballer - his golden years with us were truly spectacular - he was just a weapon of a player - good in the air, fantastic kick and a super runner.

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    Re: ‘I did this to make her proud’: How Dogs great embraced his family’s sad truth

    Quote Originally Posted by HOSE B ROMERO View Post
    What a woman. Make sure you've got any recollections written down just in case something happens to you. A proud history to pass on to your descendants.
    A lot went on in the western district and elsewhere in the early days and while nothing can change the past, hopefully we can all do our bit for the future.
    And good to see my old stomping ground, Beeac, get a mention.
    She was a good old duck, thanks. Proud Gundtij woman who served her country. I've still got the old Bulldogs jumper she knitted me in the early 80s, wore it from the pub to the Grand Final when Scraggers and I did that maiden voyage.
    Josh Schache >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Jake Stringer

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  19. #12
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    Re: ‘I did this to make her proud’: How Dogs great embraced his family’s sad truth

    1 eye dog - there is a podcast or book or movie or tv series in these wonderful stories. Thank You for sharing yours - inspiring to hear about your amazing Gran.

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    Re: ‘I did this to make her proud’: How Dogs great embraced his family’s sad truth

    Quote Originally Posted by 1eyedog View Post
    Fantastic story and exactly what happend to me.

    My great grandmother was what Europeans called half-caste and gave birth to my grandmother on an Aboriginal mission in Western Victoria in 1925. My great grans was raped by a white man. The child, my grandmother, was removed from the mission almost immediately and became one of the stolen generation. She was adopted and raised by a Dutch couple, a seafarer and his wife, in Melbourne. She grew up in Footscray during the depression knowing nothing of her Aboriginality. Her adopted parents died in a car crash in Footscray when she was 17 in 1942.

    She had nothing from here but could ride a horse so lied about her age and volunteered for the Army and it was only then that they could not find a birth certificate for her. She said she was adopted so they took her anyway and she spent the next three years riding a horse as a messenger for the Americans stationed outside Darwin. During this time the ADF informed her that they found her adoption papers and that she was a Gunditj Mirring woman from Portland. Such a shock to her. I was raised believing I was 100% European because Grans never told anyone UNTIL I interviewed her about her war experiences for a uni project when I was 27 in 1999 and she casually told me. That's how I found out. That's a 55 year long secret!

    This was such a life changing experience for me as I'm sure it is for Lindsay. I have met Lindsay a few times and would never have known we were both Aboriginal. My Uncle met both Griffon and Gilbee at the Beeac pub one night and offered his property in the Otways for them to shoot on. They came down 3 or 4 times to hunt. The irony of my story is that I'm an archaeologist and have been working direct with Aboriginal communities since 1995 and up until 1999 people used to ask if I was Aboriginal and I would always say no. They would say to me are you sure you camp like a blackfella.

    Amazing story to hear.
    Amazing.
    "It's over. It's all over."

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    Re: ‘I did this to make her proud’: How Dogs great embraced his family’s sad truth

    This is such an uplifting thread. Wonderful stories to read by Gilbee & 1eyedog.

    Thanks for sharing.
    Never hate your enemies. It affects your judgment.

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    Re: ‘I did this to make her proud’: How Dogs great embraced his family’s sad truth

    Wonderful story from Gilbs and yours too 1eyedog. Love reading both stories. Lindsay's possible re-connection back to the doggies is a great story in itself.

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