Bessie Liddle was born at Iltjiltjari, south-west of Alice Springs. Her Luritja mother was from Tempe Downs. Her grandmother's country was Watarrka (King's Canyon), Lilla and Wanmara in the same area. Her Pertame father's country was around Henbury Station.
Bessie's family moved often - from mission to mission, and station to station. From the age of eight until she was about 19, Bessie worked on Renner Rock station where her father was a stockman. During this period the family camped at times near Hermannsburg Lutheran Mission where Bessie attended school and remembers watching Albert Namatjira paint.
Bessie's mother was afraid that her children would be taken away by the authorities and often took Bessie back to country where she learnt traditional stories and ways of collecting bush tucker. After Bessie married, she moved to her husband's station where she once again did stock work and also became the camp cook.