Nambucca community fetes Gumbaynggirr elder Aunty Jessie Williams

Whatever would Aunty Jess have said!

The Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church in Nambucca Heads was packed to overflowing today (Thursday) as family and friends, Gumbaynggirr and other, gathered to farewell the oldest of the community's elders.

Born on November 18, 1923, the life of Jessie Sheila Williams was celebrated with a Requiem Mass that included a smoking ceremony, Gumbaynggirr dances as well as bi-lingual readings of the Lord's Prayer and the Prayer for the Passing of a Loved One.

Aunty Jess, as she was known to so many, was born between the Pacific Highway and the Nambucca River, opposite Stuart Island.

She grew up with the segregation that was life in Bowraville back then as well as the fear of the big black cars that were the 'welfare mob'.

With horses as the main mode of transport, she developed a life long love of these animals, which she kept alive with her much-enjoyed Saturday afternoon punts.

The causes she fought for during her long life were many, including her passionate support of the Muurrbay Language Centre to reinvigorate the Gumbaynggirr language and also, together with Aunty Emily Walker, the raising of the causeway to Stuart Island, which allowed the Nambucca River to flow freely to the sea.

Aunty Jess was mother to seven children, grandmother to 22, great-grandmother to 27 and great-great grandmother to eight.

A police escort accompanied her to her final resting place at the Nambucca Heads Cemetery.

Yaarri yarraang Barraanba (Aunty) Jess.

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