Ronda Ross was a little girl of about six when she arrived at St Mary's
Children's Home in Alice Springs. She remembers getting out of a taxi
with her older brother and sister, Clive and Fay, and being immediately
surrounded by a swarm of other children. Then she heard a voice saying,
"Stand back, children, let her breathe!"
It was a "beautiful, gentle voice – always". It belonged to Sister Eileen Heath, who has passed away just short of her 106th birthday at the end of November. Ronda last saw her in Perth when she was celebrating her 104th. Mrs Ross tells KIERAN FINNANE how she remembers a great Central Australian.
Pictured: 'Belles' of St Mary's (married names in brackets, if known) from left, Sister Eileen Heath, Ronda's sister Fay Andrew (Hampton), Shirley Dixon (Stuart), Ruth Forrester (Swan), Rosalie Kunoth (Kunoth-Monks). Next to Rosalie in the back row are Wendy Bourke (Espie), Doris Branson (Campbell), Eileen, or possibly Ivy Foster peeping from behind the garland, and Mona Bathern. There are three little girls in shadow next to Rosalie and then in front, Marie Liddle (Palmer), Peggy Foster and Patsy Clements (McDonald). Standing in Front of the Dodge is Mrs Lillian Schroder, who travelled with Sister Eileen and helped her in her work. Photograph courtesy St Mary's Children Home.
Above right: Peggy Jones and Ronda Ross (right) with Sister Eileen at her 100th birthday celebration.
The descendants of Myrtle McDonald have gathered in town this week for a family reunion. For once it was supposed to be just for joy, not for a funeral. At the Telegraph Station on Sunday family members focussed on that even though last Friday they'd again had to bury one of their menfolk dying before his time.
Ronda Ross, Myrtle's daughter, was the chief organiser. She and her sister, country singer Auriel Andrew OAM, are the last survivors of Myrtle's seven children. Pictured: Above – Reuben Andrew, Auriel's son, plays the didge; at right – Daughters of Myrtle McDonald, Ronda Ross (nee Andrew) and Auriel Andrew reminding their family of "who luv's ya".
Slide show: Ronda and Auriel reminding their family of "who luv's ya". • Auriel with grandson, Jake. • The Woodbury-Kellys, descendants of Jean McDonald, from left, Frances, her father Timmy Kelly, Ray Woodbury (son of Jean), his son Damien, Billy-Jo Hudson, Gillian (wife of Alan), Margaret Woodbury (daughter of Jean), mother of Alan and Billy-Jo, and Alan Henderson. • Bob Nardoo, husband of Ronda's and Auriel's sister Lorraine (deceased) with Alan Henderson (right) and Ray Woodbury. • Brian McDonald (centre) with, from left, Reuben Andrew, Hamish McDonald, Edward (Ned) Kelly, Paul Ross (Ronda's and Graham's third-born). • Graham Ross spins a yarn. • Reuben Andrew plays the didge. • Ronda with her eldest son, Cameron Ross. KIERAN FINNANE reports.