In the early 1900’s my great grandmother Muriel Pearl Stewart nee Cooley married Edward Stewart in Milton. Grandfather Stewart was a timber miller and worked up and down the coast. Nanny and Grandfather Stewart moved the family to La Perouse to seek better work opportunities. At this time my Grandmother May Sylvia Ella nee Stewart who was very sick as a child needed to be closer to Sydney to access medical treatment for her liver and kidneys.

The family settled in La Perouse. My grandmother met another young Aboriginal man Gordon Joseph Ella who’s family had settled in La Perouse from the south as well.

Nan and Gramps Ella married and raised my mother and her 11 siblings in La Perouse. Both Nan and Gramps maintained their ongoing connection to Country and continued travelling up and down the coast visiting family, ocean hunting and gathering seafood until they passed away.

My mother Karen Ella continued this tradition with my brother and me.

My early life was spent in La Perouse and Maroubra Beach. Then in my early teens our little family moved to Nambucca Heads. This is where I met my extended Gumbaynggirr family.

In my early 20s living in Lennox Head I commenced a career as a chef. My desire to paint outweighed my desire to cook. So I swapped my knives for a paintbrush and have not looked back.