Tony Peachey

Dubbo Photo News - - News -

What about the world to­day doesn’t make sense? The world doesn’t make

sense and all the govern­ments in the world are to blame. You wanna know why? I’ll tell you why – the aero­plane. How many are fly­ing around in the up­per at­mos­phere at one time – thou­sands! And they’re won­der­ing why the world is be­ing eaten up – the at­mos­phere is be­ing eaten up by the petrol fumes.

Look at New York and Eng­land! Their main air­ports never stop, there’s planes com­ing and go­ing ev­ery day. It’s got to be warm­ing the at­mos­phere up so that’s where global warm­ing comes from, but you can’t tell the govern­ment – they don’t want to lis­ten.

It’s all about the big dol­lar.

What an­noys you about the younger gen­er­a­tion? They think they know it all.

They’ve got all the answers. I cop that a lot off my grand­kids. “We know this Pop... That won’t hap­pen to us...” – that’s their answers. But it does come back and bite ya! You can only be there to try and help when you can.

What was the naugh­ti­est thing you did in your child­hood and teens?

Noth­ing! Ev­ery­one kept an eye on me – that was the prob­lem! You couldn’t do much, we never had a tele­phone and Dad would know by the time I got home what I’d done if I did any­thing wrong. He’d be wait­ing at the gate and that was it. Some­one would get the message to him.

What is the cra­zi­est night you’ve had? The first time we won the grand fi­nal at War­ren foot­ball. I don’t re­mem­ber any­thing for a week, we lived in the pub for the week. That was years ago when I first moved into first grade and we were only young fel­las!

What did you get up to grow­ing up? We used to ride our bikes out of town, put them in the scrub where they couldn’t be seen, and we’d go walk­ing around chas­ing rab­bits. That’s how we filled some of the days in. We’d bring them back in town and we’d have a feed of rab­bits!

What is your favourite decade and why? I sup­pose the ‘60s when I was in Nan­ima Mis­sion, they were the hap­pi­est, even though we lived un­der pretty strict rules with mis­sion man­agers and you couldn’t go into town with­out a note from the man­ager.

We didn’t wanna go in half the time any­way, and if we did, we had to be out of the town lim­its by sun­down or the police would pick us up.

But it was a good life and I loved go­ing to school. I liked be­ing there with all the other kids.

I only wagged once! There was a cor­ner where the bus used to be able to look over the river where we all used to swim, and the day I wagged Mum hap­pened to be on the bus. I didn’t wag a sec­ond time.

All us big­ger boys had to take care of the wood for the elders when Dad and that were away do­ing sea­sonal work, and it was our job to make sure there was enough wood to keep the oldies warm and cook their food.

It was a good life liv­ing on the mis­sion. It’s a pity they closed them down but that’s another one of these white fella ideas. They said it’s to in­te­grate us with the rest of Aus­tralia and move us into the towns. They think we’re stupid! The only rea­son they did it was to stop us hav­ing an un­bro­ken con­nec­tion with the land.

If you were Prime Min­is­ter for a day, what would you do or change? Oh

dear. I wouldn’t want to run. You’ve got to be a brave man to do it. I don’t think I could do it. It’s bad enough here when you go to the Land Coun­cil’s meet­ings and you’re just ar­gu­ing with the lo­cals. How could you go around with ev­ery­body in Aus­tralia with a point you wanted to get across? There would be a lot that weren’t on your side.

I’m not al­lowed to run for Lands Coun­cil any­more be­cause I had a stroke last time when I was run­ning the Hous­ing Com­pany. That was bad enough, just the stress of it.

What im­prove­ments would you like to see in our re­gion? What I’d like to

do around Bur­ren­dong Dam is go right around and have a walk­ing track where you can show peo­ple what eat­able plants we used to eat as veg­eta­bles with our meat, be­cause some of them taste lovely.

What is your proud­est ac­com­plish­ment? Get­ting the Aus­tralian of the

Year award for Dubbo about 15 years ago. It was for work­ing with the elders.

I used to take them all around Aus­tralia in a bus once a year. We would get back to Dubbo and the wife and I would sit them down and talk about where they would like to go the next year, and that would give us 12 months to work on rais­ing the money.

We did some tour­ing around! I sup­pose I’ve been around Aus­tralia five or six times now with them. We would take them ev­ery­where. We got caught in a bank rob­bery once, so we’ve done some funny things in our time while we’ve trav­elled around.

I flew them up to Dar­win and we went to Kakadu to the big crocodile river and there was only one big fella. We couldn’t get near him – the per­son driv­ing the boat tried to sneak up on him for us so we could get a good photo.

What re­ally sur­prised me were the amount of Viet­namese that were rowing around in lit­tle ca­noes and my elders were bet­ting on which one would get taken by the crocodile. It was fright­en­ing when you thought about it!

– In­ter­view & photo by Sophia Rouse

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