Mr Frank Lacy - Kimberley pioneer

Submitted: Monday, Feb 02, 2009 at 14:29
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I’m not a book worm so can’t comment how well this book has been written so my comments are about its content.

I just finished reading the “River of Home” by Marion Nixon. The book recalls particular events and periods in the life of Frank Lacy, a Kimberley pioneer and adventurer. Several aspects of Mr Lacy’s life stood out for me and the most notable was that he seemed a man of optimism.Kimberley life between the early twenties and WW2 could hardly be described as easy yet Mr Lacy never seemed controlled by those difficulties. He talked about opportunities and challenges when today others might consider them impossible. His story, like so many about our early explorers, is inspirational but is at a time when one might think that there would be nothing left to explore and conquer. I was most pleased that his story was written as so much gets lost in history and time, it made me appreciate that this country is still so young and it has been built by people that were not afraid to take a chance.

I find that I would like answers about things that just don’t seem to make any difference and I put that down to human nature or that I must be getting old. There is that urge to find out how or why. The other part is that it is just so hard to get first hand answers to those questions so it was refreshing to read this book and appreciate how tough life was in the Kimberley by someone who was there.

It will be difficult to travel the Kimberley and not think of Mr Lacy and I regret not reading the book earlier. Our Kimberley trip in 2005 skipped a visit to Walcott Inlet and the opportunity to see Mt Elizabeth station. I will not make that mistake next time.

Mr Lacy was a pioneer that seemed not to dwell on the negatives in life and made difficult experiences sound like an adventure. What a great outlook and sometimes I wonder if this passion for adventure has also slipped into history – I know this doesn’t apply to EO members just those others that think all adventures are an unacceptable risk and the perpetrators should be controlled with copious amount of legislation and rules.

Kind regards
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Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Monday, Feb 02, 2009 at 15:16

Monday, Feb 02, 2009 at 15:16
Beatit, you would also enjoy "The Last Horse Standing", from the same area and era.
It is clear that Frank Lacey was a special person and his children Peter (current owner of Mount Elizabeth) and Ann (nee Lacey) Jane (of Bush Track Safaries) have inherited many of his qualities.
If you get back to Mount Elizabeth, ask them to take you out for a tour of the old homestead.

Cheers,
Peter
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Follow Up By: Member - Beatit (QLD) - Monday, Feb 02, 2009 at 15:29

Monday, Feb 02, 2009 at 15:29
Thanks Peter, I will have a look for "The Last Horse Standing". Life seemed so much simpler then!

Kind regards
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Follow Up By: Kroozer - Monday, Feb 02, 2009 at 15:57

Monday, Feb 02, 2009 at 15:57
I actually know one of the boys from The Last Horse Standing. Of course he is grown up now, but in the story he was only a young lad. George is his name and i have known him for many years, he must be in his early forties i suppose now. He survived a nasty accident when he was about 18 and was left with minor brain damage and gets pretty bad epilepsy. He gets around town, riding his 3 wheeler bike, collecting cans for recycling and picking up rubbish. He can be seen every morning down the servo before 6am to put out all the usual oils and stuff and sweep around the bowsers, all for his morning iced coffee. He lives himself and looks after himself very well, he is usually seen at most community events lending a hend somewhere. Having known him since i was very young and seeing how hard he does it, i have always had alot of respect and admiration for him. After reading this book and learning a bit more about his past the amount of respect and admiration has grown a thousand times more. I had heard stories of his amazing skills on a horse and around the stock camp, and this book backed those stories up. If you read the book, which i would highly recommend, his name is George Camp. If ever in Wyndham and see a man riding a 3 wheeler bicycle give him a wave, it will be enough to make his day.
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Follow Up By: Member - Beatit (QLD) - Monday, Feb 02, 2009 at 16:11

Monday, Feb 02, 2009 at 16:11
Sound more and more interesting. Looked up the book and am placing an order. Thanks Peter and Kroozer for bringing the book to my notice.

Kind regards
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Reply By: Member - George (WA) - Monday, Feb 02, 2009 at 15:26

Monday, Feb 02, 2009 at 15:26
Hi Beatit,
It may be worth your while to contact Peter lacy. Peter runs the Mt Elizabeth station in the Kimberly about 25km west of the GRR. Peter has lived in the Kimberly all his life and may well be related to Frank lacy. The old original Mt Elizabeth station still exists on their property. Unfortunately I do not have the phone number to Mt Elizabeth station but it should be easy enough to find. Good luck
Cheers
Just Do It
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Follow Up By: Member - Beatit (QLD) - Monday, Feb 02, 2009 at 16:13

Monday, Feb 02, 2009 at 16:13
I have emailed Bushtrackersafaries but it no longer refers to the Peter and Pat as operators. Peter is Frank's son. Anyway I just wanted to let them know how much I enjoyed the book.

Kind regards
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Follow Up By: Peter_n_Margaret - Monday, Feb 02, 2009 at 17:22

Monday, Feb 02, 2009 at 17:22
Beatit, Bushtrack is Rick and Ann Jane.
Ann is Peter Lacey's brother. Pat is Peter Lacey's wife.
Email here....Mount Elizabeth

Rick and Ann operate Bachsten Camp on the way to Walcott. Great spot and Ric knows all about the local art.
Bushtrack is on the market, but Rick & Ann want to continue to run Baschten. Beautiful people.

Cheers,
Peter
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Reply By: gke - Monday, Feb 02, 2009 at 16:27

Monday, Feb 02, 2009 at 16:27
Beatit, by coincidence I have just finished re- reading "The Rivers of Home" which I bought at Mt. Elizabeth in 2006 after driving the Munja track to Walcott. I agree it is a very good read and thoroughly recommend the drive --rugged and beautiful country. Graham.
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Follow Up By: Member - Beatit (QLD) - Monday, Feb 02, 2009 at 16:40

Monday, Feb 02, 2009 at 16:40
Lucky bugger, we had a couple in our group tht were not confident about their vehicle so we didn't end up going. Certainly the names have more meaning now. Sounds like an adventure and one I'll work on for our next trip.

My original urge to go to Walcott Inlet came from a magazine article on travel and the accompanying photos.

Kind regards
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Reply By: Member - Alastair D (NSW) - Monday, Feb 02, 2009 at 17:09

Monday, Feb 02, 2009 at 17:09
In the mid 1970s I finished Uni and decided to travel around Aus in my LWB Landrover S3. I ended up in Derby at one stage in need of a back pocket topup and got a job at Derby Toyota. This was owned by Rick & Ann Jane. I stayed for quite a while and got to know them well. We did a lot of travelling in the region including going out to Mt Elizabeth quite a few times.

I got to know Frank & his wife Teresa quite well and he told me many stories of the old days in the Kimberley - some of them quite horrific in regards to the aborigines. I stayed a few nights at the old homestead but mostly stayed with Peter and Pat at the new one - pretty basic at that stage. They were all great people and I learnt so much about the country. We went to many incredible places and saw a lot of rock art that you would never find unless taken there.

I met Marion Nixon and her husband at Beverley springs and she talked about the writing of the book and how hard it had been to get Frank to talk about the old days. There was a lot of material that did not go into the book for many reasons.

I fell in love with the Kimberley and stayed there for about 18 months off and on, including through a real wet season which was another experience in itself.

Frank was a real character, tough as nails, said very little until fired up and was never without his pipe in his mouth. It was quite a time afterwards before I realised how priviliged I had been to have made friends with the family and seen so much of their country. Going fishing with Rick and Peter and travelling up to Walcott inlet with Peter are memories that often come back to me. I found it hard to leave and start my professional life.

cheers
alastair

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Follow Up By: Member - Alastair D (NSW) - Monday, Feb 02, 2009 at 17:14

Monday, Feb 02, 2009 at 17:14
To be correct, at the time I first worked at Derby Toyota it was not owned by Rick & Ann. They ran the garage business and the Toyota agency and business was owned by Phil Lukan. They bought the business from him a few years later when he returned to Perth.

alastair
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Follow Up By: Member - Beatit (QLD) - Monday, Feb 02, 2009 at 17:20

Monday, Feb 02, 2009 at 17:20
Thanks Alastair, I think that you have been lucky and privileged to have experienced such an encounter. I am sure it is part of you that you fondly remember always. It must have been hard to say goodbye to the people and the area and to move to the other side of the continent? I hope you’ve had the opportunity to get back there since.

It seems that they are more involved in the travel side to Walcott Inlet these days.

Kind regards
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Follow Up By: Member - Alastair D (NSW) - Monday, Feb 02, 2009 at 17:53

Monday, Feb 02, 2009 at 17:53
I have been back a couple of times. I had mixed feelings. Many things and people had changed. The NP have sprung up everywhere and there are so many restrictions to limit the damage the idiots do. I do not live in the past but my early times in the Kimberley were special and I prefer the memories to the modern reality. Besides there are still so many places I haven't been yet.

Peter always talked about doing regular trips to take people to some of the places he knew. He had a few problems with folk wrecking the tracks and decided at one stage to close it off except for those he gave permission to or gudied them himself.

Thanks for triggering a lot of fond memories.

alastair
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Reply By: MEMBER - Darian (SA) - Monday, Feb 02, 2009 at 17:27

Monday, Feb 02, 2009 at 17:27
Indeed re much of the above - we have the book too - visited the station in the dry of 08 - a top spot in the Kimberley. Now on the web too .....http://mountelizabethstation.com
AnswerID: 347277

Follow Up By: Member - Beatit (QLD) - Tuesday, Feb 03, 2009 at 08:23

Tuesday, Feb 03, 2009 at 08:23
Nice site - did you do this one? No links to bush tracker safaries?

Kind regards
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Reply By: Member - Tom V (WA) - Monday, Feb 02, 2009 at 18:54

Monday, Feb 02, 2009 at 18:54
Beatit
another interesting book or series of Books, about life, up north, is, The Last of the Pack Horse Stockmen.
cheers Tom
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Follow Up By: Member - Beatit (QLD) - Tuesday, Feb 03, 2009 at 08:26

Tuesday, Feb 03, 2009 at 08:26
Thanks Tom, I am not a big reader (sad confession) and probably have read less than a dozen books in the last ten years. Having said that, I have ordered the last horse standing and will keep your suggestion close at hand just in case.

Kind regards
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Reply By: Member - vivien C (VIC) - Tuesday, Feb 03, 2009 at 10:13

Tuesday, Feb 03, 2009 at 10:13
There are also two good books about the Kimberley written by women...

Diamonds and Dust by Sheryle McCorry -Sheryl McCorry was the first Australian woman to run an immense cattle station (800,000 ha), and has recently written a memoir/autobiography, Diamonds and Dust, detailing her time on the land.

Nothing Prepared Me - Edna Eckford Quilty - During her 31 years on Lansdowne, a million acre cattle station in the rugged Kimberley Ranges of Western Australia, Mrs Quilty traces the development of the Cattle Industry in Australia's 'Top End'; from traditional mustering and droving to the use of helicopters and road trains.

Viv
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Follow Up By: Member - Beatit (QLD) - Tuesday, Feb 03, 2009 at 10:30

Tuesday, Feb 03, 2009 at 10:30
Hi Viv,

Behind every man is a hard working woman without whom the country may not have been conquered. I am sure there are women that did wonderful things without the handicap of a man as well. They would have been strong and tough to survive. By golly I may take up more reading.

Thanks and wishing you the best.
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