Farewell to Aboriginal leader and Noonkanbah stockman Dickey Cox

Updated March 10, 2017 22:48:37

One of the Kimberley's most respected Indigenous stockmen and Aboriginal leaders has died aged 72.

A statement from the Yungngora Association said Dickey Cox died peacefully at home on March 6, with his family by his side.

The family has given permission to the ABC to use Mr Cox's name and image.

'All-rounder' in stock camps

Mr Cox was born on Noonkanbah Station in 1944 and spent his life working in the sheep and cattle industries along the Fitzroy River.

He grew up on Noonkanbah and spoke often about his days mustering sheep with his dad in the 1950s for rations, not money.

Mr Cox went on to become the station manager of Noonkanbah, which was returned to the traditional owners in 1976.

He was the Yungngora community chairman for more than 30 years, was instrumental in starting up the Kimberley Land Council (KLC), and was involved in the infamous land dispute with petroleum company AMAX between 1978 and 1980.

Next-door neighbour and owner of Jubilee Downs Station, Keith Anderson, said he first met Mr Cox in 1974 while doing contract mustering in the region.

He described Mr Cox as a "bloody good man" who was an "all-rounder" in the stock camps.

"He really understood working livestock, he knew where to be, he was a good horseman," Mr Anderson said.

"He was a valuable station person and ended up being a valuable pastoralist in the running of Noonkanbah as an Aboriginal property."

Mr Anderson said the passing of Mr Cox was "a sad loss" and he hoped he would be remembered as a great Aboriginal bushman and stockman who was a real asset to the community.

"It's really hard to run a cattle station and an [Indigenous] community, with all of the inter-locking views, but he tried hard, he was a good man, and I've never heard anyone knock him."

Champion for Noonkanbah

Indigenous stockman Sam Lovell has fond memories of working with Mr Cox on Yeeda Station in the early 1960s.

"I still remember him as that young fella on Yeeda," he told ABC Rural.

"There were a lot of changes happening on Yeeda, with Bill Henwood putting in a lot of traps.

"We had to do all of the mustering and trap the cattle [and] some of those bullocks were up to 10 years old.

"[They had] never seen a man since branding, and we had to try and handle all of these animals, and we fought hard.

"We threw bullocks and tied them up, we'd run out of straps and have to cut their horns and bump them back into the mob. You don't see that sort of work anymore."

Mr Lovell said Mr Cox was committed to improving life for those living on Noonkanbah.

"We talked a lot about getting young people to work," Mr Lovell said.

"He tried his best and did everything for Noonkanbah.

"He fought for a lot of housing, better living for his people. He did a lot of good things."

Day Noonkanbah was returned to its people

In April 2007, the Federal Court granted Native Title to the Yungngora community in a special sitting beside the Noonkanbah shearing shed.

Mr Cox, a proud Nykinya man, was the chairman of the community and spoke of how happy he was for his people to be officially recognised.

"This Nykinya land is good for us... I was born along the river here," he told ABC Radio on the day of the determination.

"It's special to us and for this community because the land has been passed on to us from the old people, and we have to pass it on to the young generations."

Topics:rural, mining-rural, death, indigenous-aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander, aboriginal, people, human-interest, community-and-society, history, indigenous-protocols, indigenous-policy, beef-cattle, fitzroy-crossing-6765

First posted March 10, 2017 08:45:05

Read more http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-10/aboriginal-leader-and-noonkanbah-stockman-dickey-cox-dies/8331532