Tracker Tilmouth remembered - 12th March 2015
Darwin's largest cathedral filled with people paying
tribute to Aboriginal activist Kwementyaye Tracker'
Tilmouth, his daughter Shaneen's words rang true:
'The legacy is huge, almost too big to fill'.
Tilmouth was farewelled at a state funeral on Thursday
after dying from cancer on February 28, aged 62.
from his Arrernte family in Alice Springs at the age
of three, he was sent to the notorious Retta Dixon
home and then to the Croker Island Mission.
sweeping floors and working as a stockman and builder,
Mr Tilmouth became involved in the fight for Aboriginal
rights, establishing central Australia's Aboriginal
health service and Aboriginal legal aid service, chaired
the Central Land Council and was the Labor frontrunner
to be preselected as an NT senator in the 1990s before
dropping out of the race.
was a man respected from the cattleyards to the boardrooms,
from the company boardrooms to the ancient ceremonial
grounds; he was an extraordinary character,' said
Bob Beadman, a former public servant and veteran of
indigenous affairs in one of six eulogies.
Tilmouth was remembered as a man ahead of his time,
an irreverent stirrer with a sharp tongue who had
no time for polite conversation and never backed down
from a fight as a fearless advocate for Australia's
most disadvantaged people.
was just plain brilliant, the best thing of our times,'
said novelist Alexis Wright.
humour was a great source of life, but sometimes it
was like being struck unexpectedly by a bomb; he could
leave you flabbergasted by what came out of his mouth...
Many Chinese businessmen and UN diplomats are still
coming to terms with something Tracker once said to
anti-uranium mining activist Jacqui Katona said Mr
Tilmouth was never afraid to share his opinions, calling
Queensland's Bjelke-Petersen government the 'biggest
bunch of thieves' he'd ever seen, and describing the
Labor Party as 'a shit sandwich, and even if it was
dressed in a ribbon it was still a shit sandwich'.
knew everyone, from the most influential leaders to
the man on the street, and had time for them all,
the congregation heard.
Wright said he had an 'intuitive intelligence that
would pour out big ideas one after another', and all
the other speakers hailed him as a visionary.
to pay their respects were politicians from both sides,
including Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion,
Labor NT MP Warren Snowdon, Senator Nova Peris, former
ALP minister Simon Crean, academic Marcia Langton,
the heads of the Central and Northern Land Councils,
former deputy leader of the Liberals Fred Chaney,
and numerous indigenous leaders.
Tilmouth's brother William said his ill health and
untimely death were a result of his childhood trauma,
and urged governments to listen to Tracker's message
on including indigenous people in designing their
you didn't hear him when he was alive, hear him now:
our people are dying and we are yet to be seated around