He has no intention of sitting around in the long yard or smelling the roses. There is still too much to do for this old ringer, before he hangs up the bridle and puts the saddle away for the last time. Getting up early, doing a days work is what keeps him happy and healthy. The now 92 year old is still riding a horse, he was literally born in the saddle. 3 months ago he had a fall, but it was not long before he was up and about again.
Geoff Guest, has seen a lot and don a lot in his life, he was born in the Western Queensland Aboriginal Mission of Cherbourg, being light skinned he was moved from mission to mission and at one point was moved to Lake Tyers in Victoria. He grew up in the dark times of Aboriginal policy being under the Act when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids were removed from their parents and communities. Geoff mother died when he was about 5 years old, he was flogged with a stock whip when he was about 7 years old, the flogging traumatise him so much it caused him to stutter, which he still does to this day.
He ran away when he was about 10 and went bush, picked up a job on a station it was not unusual in those days for young Aboriginal boys and girls to be working on the cattle stations. Geoff has worked around horses and cattle all his life and also did a bit of tin scratching and owned a few properties in his time. His journeys took him to China, South America and also as pony trick rider in America.
For Geoff and his now deceased wife Norma, between them over the last 40 years or more, they have taken in over 4,000 boys and girls at their property they called Petford Farm. They took on the kids to give them a chance in life, they learnt horse breaking, mustering cattle, saddle making, rope making, all skills needed to get a job on the stations of the Gulf and Cape. Station owners and head Stockmen knew that if kids and ringers came from Petford they knew the job.
Situated west of Mareeba towards the Gulf in far North Queensland. Boys and girls from outlying Aboriginal communities, towns and cities were trained at Petford. Some were sent by parents elders, social workers, courts and other well meaning people. The one thing they all had in common was that they wanted to turn their lives around. The alternative for some was institutionalisation.
Geoff spoke with Black Star morning focus announcer Greg Reid about his journey and his theory of the modern diets and the effect on Indigenous peoples health and well being. He talks about his own observations and processed foods on the health cycle of Aboriginal people from a very young age, cutting out sugar, and wheat products at the dinner table. For more about this amazing story.