Bruce was born in the bush, north of Oenpelli in the Northern Territory, in a place called Makanarlarl. He lived most of his life there and went to school in Oenpelli. His father, Bilinyara Nabegayo, taught him to paint as a young boy where he learnt to grind ochre and paint on bark. Bruce was an accomplished artist and many of his works have been exhibited. He was a ceremony man with great responsibilities and sang many of the ceremonial songs.