Molly Raymont reading a congratulatory telegram
from the Prime Minister on her 100th birthday

 

Molly Raymont
1889 - 1992

This obituary was written by CSIRO botanist, Tony Irvine, who spent much time with Molly learning the Ngadjon names and uses for the plants of the rainforest.
It appeared in the Eacham Times, 19 May 1992.


The Atherton Tablelands, indeed North Queensland, lost one of its most important contributors of traditional history and culture when MOLLIE RAYMOND passed away, at the age of 102 years, on Monday morning, 4th May 1992, in Malanda.

Mollie was the last member of the Ngajanji people who had traditional tribal upbringing and had full knowledge of Ngajan dialect, one of ten known dialects of the Dyirbal language spoken between Atherton and Cardwell. The Ngajanji occupied an area bounded by mid Russell River, Topaz, Malanda, Atherton, just south of Yungaburra and including Lake Eacham.

Mollie had three children and became grandmother, great grandmother, great-great grandmother and great-great-great grandmother to more than 100 descendants. Even unrelated people called her "Granny". Born at "Top Camp" near Old Boonjie Road, Topaz, Mollie first worked for Europeans on the Russell River Goldfields. She also worked hard on dairy farms and as a housekeeper. In 1964 she started giving her knowledge of her language, the customs of her people and their names for rainforest plants and animals to Professor Bob Dixon of Australian National University, Canberra. She narrated her people's account of the origin of Lake Eacham which, they said, was formed when the area was open forest. This accords with scientific studies. Due to her work with Bob Dixon, much of the Ngajan language and culture will be available to both her descendants, other Australians and international researchers.

In 1989, when she turned 100 years old, she received congratulations from Prime Minister Bob Hawke, Governor-General Bill Hayden, Queensland Governor William Campbell and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Gerry Hand.

"Granny" was a sprightly, energetic woman of small stature and, up to the age of 98 years, showed little signs of frailty. I can remember two occasions visiting her in vain when she was 97 years old. On the first occasion "she had gone to Cooktown" and on the second "Granny had gone fishing" by herself. When she was 90, I was walking with her and Bob Dixon along the Crater (Mt Hypipamee) track asking her the Ngajan name for various plants along the way. We were about half way to the Crater when she retorted, "Look, if you people don't hurry up we will never get to see the Crater".

At the age of 102 years, "Granny" began to yen "to go home to the Top Camp at Boonjie". With the passing away of her eldest friend a month ago, "Granny" obviously decided "to hurry up to go home". Her loss is not only a deep personal loss to all her relatives and friends, it is also a large historical loss to us all.