Myrtle Perooz

A local saddler named Charlie Dee and his wife Sarah, the daughter of a Welsh/Irish Jew, had a baby girl whom they named Myrtle. The marriage was unhappy from the outset; Sarah had been married to the man of her parents’ choice rather than her true love. Eventually, Charlie moved down river to open a business in Louth and Sarah turned to drinking and living on the fringe of the Afghan camp, often keeping her young daughter home from school to fetch the alcohol.

Meanwhile, in the largely male Muslim enclave, thirty five year old Morbine Perooz was urgently searching for a wife. Many had sought out Aboriginal girls but Morbine saw another possibility through Sarah. It was the Afghan practice to offer a price for a bride, and in 1912 he made a deal with the increasingly desperate alcoholic mother to purchase her thirteen-year-old daughter.

Morbine became a respected member of the Bourke community, successfully operating camel teams before moving into retailing and orcharding. Myrtle, by contrast, found her small world close down even further, her life proscribed by a faith she did not understand. Her movements were restricted by the Muslim laws regarding women

The child bride proved remarkably resilient. Myrtle quietly carried on for another forty years after her husband died, in the small corrugated iron house they shared for over fifty years. She remained philosophical, often stating, “Well, that was my life.” Myrtle passed way at the grand age of 105.

For more information please contact the Back O' Bourke Information and Exhibition Centre

Kidman Way, Bourke NSW 2840

02 6872 1321