Collection UQFL84 - Oodgeroo Noonuccal Papers

Identity area

Reference code



Oodgeroo Noonuccal Papers


  • 1916-1985 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

28 boxes, 1 parcel, 4 albums, 1 oversize folder

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Oodgeroo Noonuccal of the Noonuccal tribe of North Stradbroke Island near Brisbane, was a poet and Aboriginal activist. She was born Kathleen Jean Mary Ruska on 3 November 1920 at Bulimba, then in the Shire of Balmoral and from 1925 a suburb of Brisbane. Her parents were Edward (Ted) Ruska, and Lucy, nee McCullough. She was the second youngest of seven children. Her father was a Noonuccal descendant. Ruska's childhood home was One Mile on North Stradbroke Island on the outskirts of Dunwich. She completed her education at Dunwich State school in 1934, at the age of thirteen, and left home to work in Brisbane. In 1941 she enlisted in the Australian Women's Army Service and was discharged in 1944. She married Bruce Walker, a childhood friend, on 8 May 1943. The couple had one son, but later separated. Kath Walker later worked for Raphael and Phyllis Cilento. In 1953, she had a son with the Cilentos' son, Raphael junior.

Kath Walker was involved in numerous organisations. From 1961 to 1970 she was the Queensland State Secretary of the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders as well as an Executive of the Queensland Aboriginal Advancement League and Secretary of the Queensland State Council for the Advancement of Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders. She was a member of the Aboriginal Arts Board, the Aboriginal Housing Committee, the Australian-American Bicentennial Committee. She was also the Chairperson of the Cultural Committee of the Queensland Multicultural Task Force in 1978 and later the Managing Director of the Noonuccal-Nughie Education and Cultural Centre.

During her lifetime Kath Walker filled several lecturing and artistic positions. These included Adult Education Lecturer; Delegate to the World Council of Churches Consultation on Racism; Guest Lecturer at the University of South Pacific; Official Australian Envoy on a Diplomatic Passport to International Writers' Conference in Malaysia; Senior Advisor to the Australian Aboriginal Contingent to the First World Black Festival of Arts in Nigeria; Guest of the Government of Papua New Guinea for the PNG Festival of Arts; Delegate to the Second World Black Festival of Arts; Lecturer and assistant to Professor P. Edwards, Camp Jungai pre-tertiary Aboriginal students summer camp; Remedial Tutor at the Dunwich State Primary School. She toured the United States on a Fullbright Scholarship and Myers travel grant lecturing on Australian Indigenous culture.

In 1981 Kath Walker launched her new career as a painter and fabric designer. Her first exhibition was in July 1981. In an article by Bruce Dickson, Kath Walker says that "painting has always been her first love [as] it communicates more effectively than the written word".

In protest at the 1988 Australian Bicentenary celebrations, in 1987 Kath Walker changed her name to Oodgeroo of the Noonuccal tribe. In the same year she returned the MBE (awarded in 1970) to the Governor of Queensland.

She died of cancer on 16 September 1993.

Archival history

Collection previously titled as: Papers, [194-?]-[ca.1985]
Collection alternatively titled as: Oodgeroo Noonuccal Collection.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Content and structure area

Scope and content

This collection contains poetry, prose, speeches, and reports; correspondence; photographs, newspaper cuttings; press releases; invitations; programmes; research material; and plans.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

This collection was rearranged in early 2020. Series titles from the previous online listing have been retained with additional series created as required. Where possible, previous box numbers are recorded in the notes field.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Unrestricted access.

Conditions governing reproduction

Copyright varies. Can be reproduced for personal research and study. For other uses see About copyright . Please attribute the Fryer Library.

Jacaranda Press (aka Wiley) has copyright for all poems in My People, The Dawn is at Hand and We are Going.

Language of material

  • Australian Language
  • English

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

Related material is held in F3839 Kath Walker interviewed.

Related descriptions

Publication note

Material from this collection has been cited in:
Piccini, J. (2019). Human rights in twentieth-century Australia, Cambridge University Press.

Swan, QJ (2023) ‘The Black Pacific: Vanuatu, Decolonization, and the Global 1980s’, The Journal of African American history, 108(3):398–424, doi:10.1086/725826.

Publication note

The Australian women's register, AWH000383

Notes area


This collection may contain culturally sensitive words or descriptions, some of which might not normally be used in certain public or community contexts.


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are warned that this manuscript collection may contain images or names of Aboriginal and Islander people now deceased.


The creator has been identified by the name used at the time of creation with the exception of the top-level description.

Alternative identifier(s)



Millennium Local System Number


OCLC Number

222660045 ; 1096568203

Libraries Australia ID

63004924 ; 21260374

Access points

Place access points

Name access points

Genre access points

Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

Rules and/or conventions used



Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

Revised, SJB, 18-Nov-2022.
Revised, Linda Justo, 18-Nov-2022. Revised, Linda Justo, 21-May-2020;
Migrated from LMS: April 2019, P.A.




Accession area

Related people and organizations

Related genres

Related places

Physical storage

  • Box: UQFL84 Box 1
  • Box: UQFL84 Box 2
  • Box: UQFL84 Box 3
  • Box: UQFL84 Box 4
  • Box: UQFL84 Box 5
  • Box: UQFL84 Box 6
  • Box: UQFL84 Box 7
  • Box: UQFL84 Box 8
  • Box: UQFL84 Box 9
  • Box: UQFL84 Box 10
  • Box: UQFL84 Box 11
  • Box: UQFL84 Box 12
  • Box: UQFL84 Box 13
  • Box: UQFL84 Box 14
  • Box: UQFL84 Box 15
  • Box: UQFL84 Box 16
  • Box: UQFL84 Box 17
  • Box: UQFL84 Box 18
  • Box: UQFL84 Box 19
  • Box: UQFL84 Box 20
  • Box: UQFL84 Box 21
  • Box: UQFL84 Box 22
  • Box: UQFL84 Box 23
  • Box: UQFL84 Box 24
  • Box: UQFL84 Box 25
  • Box: UQFL84 Box 26
  • Box: UQFL84 Box 27
  • Box: UQFL84 Box 28
  • Album: UQFL84 Album 1
  • Album: UQFL84 Album 2
  • Album: UQFL84 Album 3
  • Album: UQFL84 Album 4
  • Parcel: UQFL84 Parcel 1
  • Oversize folder: UQFL84 Oversize folder 1