Paul Callaghan is a proud member of the Ridgeway and Manton mobs, born and bred in Karuah surrounded by his extended Aboriginal family.
His dad started out as a timber cutter for the oyster farms in the Karuah area, before taking up oyster farming himself. Paul, his mum and his siblings all joined in the family business, swinging axes and opening oysters.
"Mum and Dad's story is a great love story, really," Paul tells 1233's Jill Emberson.
His mum, an Aboriginal woman, met his dad, a white man, when his dad delivered eggs to the Karuah Mission each day.
"The story they tell me - I wasn't there, so I don't know the truth - is that Dad saw her and they fell in love. And so they married when mum was 15, and dad was 24."
Paul's dad found it difficult in the community after the marriage. Only one white person attended their wedding, but the young couple were embraced by the extended family of the Karuah Mission.
He remembers the Mission as a place of laughter, family and togetherness, and speaks fondly of playing with his cousins.
There was a point, when Paul was young, where somebody reported them to Child Welfare. He had been a premature baby, and his sickly appearance was misinterpreted as his not being looked after.
Luckily for Paul and his mum, he looked well on the day the welfare workers visited, so he was able to remain with his family.
"Well, I never realised how lucky I was. And obviously, had that happened...imagine how my life would've turned out without knowing my country, knowing my family, knowing my story," he says.
"Story is so important to Aboriginal people, and we have many, many Aboriginal people throughout NSW and Australia who have been taken away from their story, and they search to retrace that story. And that's part of my journey - to try and help people find that story."
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