"Don't be afraid to ask questions, to meet new people and to challenge and believe in yourself."
Denise Cox (a Bardi Woman) is an exceptional woman from a small community, Beagle Bay in the North West Kimberley, Western Australia. She grew up in Beagle Bay until the age of 12 when she left to complete her schooling in Perth. She finished her secondary education at boarding school at Iona College, Perth.
Denise has always believed in the importance of meeting new people and making the most of every opportunity she has had. She applied and was successful in receiving a Rotary Exchange Scholarship to Ohio, USA. This cultural exchange program allowed Denise to share her unique culture with the school students from Ohio, whilst also taking back some of the American culture she had learnt from her peers. Denise encourages Indigenous youth “not be afraid to try new things. You can always ask questions and learn from your experiences and keep the things you want and throw the other parts away.”
Denise’s passion is theatre and music. For 10 years, she lived off and on in Perth working in the arts. Returning to Australia from The States, Denise got itchy feet in her hometown and decided to head to Perth to work with the Black Swan Theatre. Denise returned to Broome after 5 years to work for the Kimberley Aboriginal Health Service promoting health to young Indigenous Australians using the power of theatre to engage and educate youth through acting out real life stories. Here she worked in the schools, the prisons and rehabilitation centres. She then returned to Perth and travelled with Corrugation Road on a 6-month tour around Australia. Returning again to Broome, she pulled together her 3-piece band and gigged around town. She also had a part in the cabaret for Internationally renowned movie, Brand Nue Day.
Her family drew her back to Beagle Bay in 1996, where she coached theatre at the local School of the Sacred Heart. She was glad to be home, although Perth had become her second home. She is now working in the family business in Beagle Bay, the local bakery. She does everything here for the family including baking ‘the best sausage rolls and pies in the Kimberley’ as attested by a visiting customer. She has two children, one boy and one girl. Both her children will finish their schooling in Perth with her daughter completing her schooling at Iona College, Mosman Park.
Denise’s advice to young Indigenous children growing up in remote areas, is to get a “good education to set you up for life, and so you can make your own choices and decisions about the options and opportunities you come by.” Growing up she was always shy, but she encourages young kids to “open themselves up to the opportunities, don’t worry about shame. Each person you meet builds on your character and with a good education you can make your own judgements about the opportunities presented to you.”
You can enjoy fresh damper, chunky pasties, tasty sausage rolls, meat pies, apple strudels and other sweet pastries at her family’s bakery in Beagle Bay on the left hand-side as you drive into town. Make sure you stop and have a chat to Denise; she is a truly inspiring, sophisticated role model for all Australians.