Carmel Nicholson Outback Music Scholarship

Carmel Nicholson

Aboriginal Artist


Carmel Marie Nicholson was born in 1930 at Ray Station near Quilpie in south-west Queensland. She was the daughter of Rosie Dick, great-granddaughter of ‘Kangaroo’, leader of the Buntamurra people and sole survivor of a police massacre at Cameron’s Corner at the beginning of the 20th century. She was also the daughter of English stock man, David Nicholson.

For the first six years of her life,Carmel lived with her mother at Ray Station where Rosie worked for the Tully family.Carmel remembered going fishing and picking wild  flowers along the creek with her mother and in later years these memories would inspire an output of joyous paintings that are her legacy to a nation still in need of true reconciliation.

At six years of age Carmel was forcibly removed from her mother and taken to Cherbourg Mission. Rosie followed Carmel and both mother and daughter remained at Cherbourg until they were finally released into the care of the Tullys. In a statement made by Carmel at a ceremony organised by the Good Shepherd Sisters at Ashfield on National Sorry Day 1998, she refers to Cherbourg as ‘a prison’ and recalls being frightened of the dark, having sores all over her body and having her head shaved.

By the time Carmel and Rosie were released from Cherbourg, Carmelwas seven years old. However, the Queensland Government’s policy of removing children of black and white descent had not altered, so when Rosie returned to Ray Station, Carmel was placed firstly in the care of the Carmelites at Auchenflower and then with the Good Shepherd Sisters at their convent in Mitchelton. Carmel would spend the next fifty-six years at Mitchelton.

During these years Carmel received a basic education and demonstrated remarkable talents for singing and playing the violin. She was taught music by teachers from the Conservatorium, sang in the Brisbane City Choir and performed in amateur theatrical productions. At the age of fourteen she began working in the commercial laundry and later took over management of the Home for Girls’ kitchen. When the Home closed, Carmel moved into a sponsored house with friends from the convent where she remained till she moved to Sydney in 1992.

Unlike many members of the Stolen Generation, Carmel maintained some contact with her mother. Once every couple of years Rosie would visit Carmel at the convent and Carmel wrote to her mother every month. On rare occasions Carmel received small packages of wild flowers that Rosie picked after the rains at Quilpie. These flowers would dry out and wilt on their way to Mitchelton, but they were Carmel’s precious lifeline to her mother and when she began painting, Quilpie wild flowers became a recurring metaphor for the love between mother and daughter.

In 1996 Carmel attended the Eora Aboriginal Art College in Chippendale and the next year was awarded a grant from the Australia Council for the Arts to develop her first exhibition. In preparation for this exhibition,Carmeltravelled to her birth country at Quilpie – her first visit since being taken away at the age of six. This experience was a highly emotional one for Carmel and for some time afterwards she was unable to paint at all.

Carmel’s return to Quilpie coincided with a period of heavy rain – the country was a mass of wild flowers, like those she remembered picking with Rosie and those her mother had sent her at the convent. When Carmelbegan painting again she filled her boards and canvases with Quilpie wildflowers. In response to her first exhibition, Rosie’s Story in 1998, Ken Watson, then a curator at the Art Gallery of NSW, wrote, Carmel uses her paint both sensuously and confidently. She has a direct and literal use of visual imagery which is obviously influenced by some of Australia’s greatest desert painters.

Rosie’s Story established Carmel as a serious artist and was followed by two equally successful exhibitions: Buntamurra Dreaming in 2000 and Eternal Echoes in 2002. By 2002 however, Carmel was suffering the effects of advanced dementia. For the Eternal Echoes exhibition, however, Carmel produced a series of beautiful and joyous paintings that were so full of life the wildflowers appeared to dance on the surface of the canvases. This was Carmel’s artistic triumph. The exhibition was officially opened by the Governor of NSW, Professor Marie Bashir and during the course of the exhibition Carmel was interviewed by Rachael Kohn for The Spirit of Things.

In 1999 Carmel was interviewed for the Bringing Them Home Oral History Project. Her interview and her painting Eternal Echoes are both featured in the final publication. In 2003, the North Sydney Council invited Carmel to exhibit her paintings in the Guringai Festival, A Celebration of Aboriginal Culture and Heritage; the Council has subsequently acquired two of Carmel’s paintings for their civic art collection. It meant a great deal to Carmel that she was accepted as an Aboriginal woman whose life experiences were being validated and considered valuable.

Carmel’s cheerful, loving nature and her positive disposition meant that in life she was surrounded by friends who loved her dearly and now miss her terribly. To us, her achievements seem outstanding, but Carmelwas a woman of deep and intuitive wisdom. On the occasion of the opening of her last exhibition, I said to Carmel, How do you feel? To which she replied, I’m happy Judith, I have everything I want.

Carmel passed away on 14 October 2005. Her life was celebrated by her sister Barbara Bond, her large network of close friends and family, and Father Richard Pascoe at theHoly Cross Church in Woolawin on 21 October. As was her wish, she rests with her mother at the Pinaroo cemetery in Brisbane.

Judith Salmon (as printed in Sydney Morning Herald)



Carmel Nicholson Outback Music Scholarship

For more information, please click Generous Hearts on menu bar above

Our next Music Scholarship Fund Raiser will be a Dinner on 1 October, International Music Day 2014.

If you would like to receive information and/or an invitation, please email:


 Art & Cultural Travel Experiences * 2014

NEW YORK + Philly 6-18 October 2014 


Join Judith on a New York excursion that celebrates the art, history, music, literature, architecture and film of the world’s most exciting city. Our 10 days in New York City coincides with the most prestigious and diverse arts event in the Manhattan calendar, the New Yorker Festival.

This comprehensive group itinerary allows for personal preferences when full cultural programs are announced for 2014.

Like to join us?  Contact & Itinerary. 

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YWLP is an initiative of NGO2 Bamboo Shoot Foundation in Siem Reap, Cambodia: NGO2 Bamboo Shoot Foundation provides safe accommodation and leadership skills for young women who would otherwise leave school at primary or junior high school level. Nineteen girls have graduated this year and will go on to higher education. They will become skilled and valuable members of their local communities.


A new school year has just commenced with 30 students participating in YWLP. These young women rely on support from people like us for food, medical insurance & school uniforms.

Medical insurance costs $50 per student annually. You can help by coming to a Christmas mini shopping soiree in support of YWLP on Thursday 28 November. Details: or 0409 618 499

Donations to NGO2 Bomboo Shoot Foundation are managed by Terry Salmon who issues a Salmon & Co Solicitors Trust Account receipt for every contribution.   Bank details:


Please tag your deposit: NGO2 + Your Surname. 

Then send Terry a quick email with your full name and postal address, he will mail you a Trust Account Receipt:

I look forward to seeing you on 28 November.

Best wishes,





A new, detailed itinerary is available for the November, 2013 tour of Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Click here for more information.

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Free Information Session: Wednesday 17 July 5.00 or 6.00pm, at

Lavender Bay Gallery 25-27 Walker Street, North Sydney

RSVP: Judith 0409 618 499   E:


A cultural journey that will open your eyes and your heart

 Join tour leader and travel writer Judith Salmon, award-winning artist Chrissie Lloyd and avid photographer Pete Wilkes for 14 days as we journey inside the contemporary cultures of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Travel to places of stunning beauty and timeless, historical significance. Immerse yourself in the colourful, living cultures of the old Indochina. Witness the progress of modernity. Meet people who understand the complex challenges facing these new independent nations. Join them in their journeys. Leave your mark on the processes bringing effective social change to young people in these countries. Record your experiences in words, paint and/or photography. Come home determined to return!

14 Day Air/Tour, departing Sydney
Tuesday 12 November 2013

 For more information,  please click here  or call Judith for a personal overview of this unique travel opportunity. : 0409 618 499

For Bookings contact Award-Winning Travel Professional
Natalie Jeffers on 02 8235 5593, or email


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Ubud Writers & Readers Festival 2013

A Bali Retreat for art, cultural & literary enthusiasts seeking stimulation and time for private contemplation.

Enjoy the luxury of 5* accommodation in the heart of Ubud village in the company of a friendly group of like-minded people as we immerse ourselves in a week of stimulating conversation, panel discussions, book launches, how-to workshops, cooking classes, live performances and fabulous cuisine in the breathtaking environs of Central Bali. Experience an individualised holiday within the framework of a small group tour.

Enjoy a Welcome dinner with your fellow travellers

Meet with Balinese poet, musician and Ganesha Bookshop owner, Ketut Yuliarsa

Visit the Neka Art Museum

Lunch at Ubud’s iconic Indus Restaurant

Learn about the history of Indonesian textiles at Threads of Life Gallery

Enjoy 4 days of UWRF events with your Festival Pass

Be pampered with a Bumi Bali massage

Ask Judith about optional trips into the countryside

Enjoy unique shopping experiences

Farewell Ubud with cocktails and canapes on last evening

Return home relaxed and revived!

Click here for detailed Itinerary.

Contact Judith for further information:


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Balinese Soiree with Debbie Mackinnon

Please join Adrian Vickers (author of ‘Balinese Art’), Debbie Mackinnon and Judith Salmon for a Balinese inspired evening of conversation, art, music, wine and nibbles at a

Twilight Viewing of FIELD OF DREAMS, Debbie’s new collection of paintings of Balinese rice paddies

The Incinerator Space, 2 Small Street, Willoughby on Thursday 28 February: 

5.30 -7.00pm

Click here for more information




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Bitumen to Bulldust Outback MusicTour, 4 nights/5 days

 This tour is now fully subscribed!

Wednesday 7 August 2013

5.45 am           Meet fellow travellers at Sydney Airport

6.45am            Depart for Moree

8.15am            Arrive Moree. Gavin Hann will meet us. Coffee stop in Moree, then on the road to Lightning Ridge by 10.00am. On the way, Gavin will give us a commentary about the local area; Richard will tell us about his work with children; Joan will tell us some colourful jokes.

1.00pm            Arrive Lightning Ridge. Lunch at the Club, opposite our Motel, order and pay independently.

2.00pm            Tour of Lightning Ridge with Barbara Moritz. Barb will show us the important sites and take us to the Historical Society.

4.00pm            Check into Wallangulla Motel

4.45pm            Half the group will go with Marilyn, Richard and Jane to the Black Queen Lamp Show & Performance, others can rest or explore the Ridge.

7.30pm            Dinner at Brunoz Restaurant, 2 course set menu.

Overnight Wallangulla Motel – our host is Carol.

Thursday 8 August

Breakfast at Motel or local cafe.

8.45am            Leave Motel in coach

9.00-10.00am  Visit Lightning Ridge Central School with Marilyn and Richard. meet children and hear them sing.

10-11.00am     Morning tea.

12.00am          Visit Opal Museum. Talk by Maxine O’Brien, Manager Lightning Ridge Mining Association: ABC Interview

1.30-3.00pm    Visit the Black Hand Mine. This is a guided tour and we have a break for complimentary tea and coffee midway.

4.45pm            Second half of group attend the Black Queen Performance.

7.30pm            Dinner at Brunoz, different set menu.

Overnight Wallangulla Motel

Friday 9 August


Settle accounts: single rooms $75 per night; twin $85 per night; queen $95 per night

8.30am            Our coach leaves for Walgett. Coffee stop before going to St Michael’s School

11.00am          Visit St Michael’s Primary School, we are invited to school assembly

12.30pm          Lunch at RSL Club. See local craft exhibitions associated with Walgett Community Festival; also Heritage Centre, opposite RSL.

2.30pm            Visit Distance Education Centre

3.30-4.00pm    Visit Aboriginal Medical Service Centre

4.30-5.00pm    Check in the Barwon Inn Motel

6.30pm            ‘Dinner Under the Stars’, a free Festival event

Overnight the Barwon Inn Motel – our host is Chris.

Saturday 10 August

Breakfast, continental style, included in room rate.

Guided walk along the river, optional.

10.00am          Festival events and workshops – ‘The Walgett Voice’, children’s singing competition.

Lunch at Festival – free BBQ.

Festival continues till 4.00pm.

Dinner at Barwon Inn.

Overnight the Barwon Inn

Sunday 11 August

Breakfast, continental style, included in room rate.

Check out Motel.

11.00am          Drive to ‘Ballandree’ Marilyn’s property, for lunch.

Lunch               Catered

After lunch      Drive to Moree

7.00pm            Flight departs

8.30pm            Arrive Sydney

For more information, contact Judith: or 0409 618 499




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Judith’s Cultural Tours for 2013

North India – A Cultural Journey in Art, History, Literature & Spirituality

Fully subscribed for 2013 Click here to download full details

Are you interested in this tour for January/February 2014? 

To express your interest send Judith an email

Bitumen to Bulldust Walgett Festival  - 7 – 11 August  

Featuring Walgett & Lightning Ridge Children’s Choirs

4 nights/5 days Moree, Lightning Ridge, Walgett  Very limited numbers:10-12 

To express your interest send Judith an email

Ubud Writers & Readers Festival  1-8 October

10th anniversary celebration!

To express your interest send Judith an email

 Vietnam – Cambodia – Laos * Mid-November 

Hanoi, Sapa, Siem Reap, Luang Prabang, Saigon

To express your interest send Judith an email

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Armchair Travel – to the Jaipur Literary Festival & Delhi Art Fair

The Best Exotic Art & Cultural Tour to North India is now fully subscribed.

Between now and our departure date, 22 January 2013, we will be preparing for our adventure by reading up on Indian literature, art, music, history, religions, textiles, cuisine, shopping and much more.

If you would like to be an armchair traveller and join our pre-departure e-journey:

Contact Judith:

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