Amazing who you may meet walking past a bus stop.
I was doing exactly that on Friday lunch time when I walked past the stop in central Cairns and spotted a fine looking gentleman. Said ‘Hi’ … we exchanged pleasantries and I asked ‘George’ how far away his bus was … the board said eight minutes … and if I may make a quick portrait. George was fine with that so I raced back to my car a block away to grab a decent camera. We were chatting whilst I made a few frames and it turns out that George is, in fact … Dr George Skeene OAM and a Yirrganydji Elder !
Of course, the bus arrived early and George told me his info is on the web … and off he went. Our interaction lasted a very pleasant six or seven minutes …
Fascinating to find Dr George on the web and learn the details of his stellar career. George grew up in Aboriginal reserves in Cairns and has made it his life’s work to document his Yirrganydji cultural heritage.
He has traced and catalogued Yirrganydji artefacts that were spirited to Germany in the early 1900’s, written a book “Two Cultures” about the Cairns aboriginal camps, arranged for the return and reburial in Cairns of the remains of a Yirrganydji woman held at the Queensland Museum … and that’s just a start (much more ‘on the web’).
George was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Letters at James Cook University in 2013 and the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 2016.
In retrospect it’s surprising that I hadn’t met George before last Friday … now so pleased I have 🙂
Image of Dr George Skeene OAM by © Brian Cassey