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Dolly Bonson Memorial
Dolly Bonson Memorial

Photographs supplied by Diane Watson

A monument in the Elsey Cemetery commemorates Dolly Bonson.

Dolly Bonson, aged 95, died in March, 1988. She was Bett Bett, the Aboriginal servant girl featured in We of the Never-Never and the lead character in The Little Black Princess books by Jeannie Gunn. now part of Australian folklore. It had been thought that Bett Bett had disappeared into the vast Australian bush in 1902. When Jeannie reluctantly left Elsey after her husband died, Dolly was distraught. But the event brought her into contact with her white father, Mr Cummings, for the first time. They became great friends, although the relationship was legally and culturally prohibited.

Dolly was caught between two worlds. Her own culture wouldn’t accept her whiteness and the white community refused to accept her Aboriginal heritage. She experienced abuse in foster homes and lived in seven homes in her 17 years of life. In 1918, she met and married Joe Bonson, a handsome Englishman. Their close relationship lasted until he died, 40 years later. Over the years, the Bonsons became part of the Darwin community.


Address:Stuart Highway , Elsey Cemetery, Signposted Turnoff south of Mataranka, Mataranka , 0852
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -15.07918
Long: 133.12294
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Monument
Monument Theme:People


Front Inscription

In memory of the last survivor of Bett Bett

The Little Black Princess

Dolly Bonson

who died in Darwin 3 March 1988 - aged 95

She sleeps awaiting her Saviour`s return and the gift of eternal life


Source: ACPH,MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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