I’m very honoured to be asked to talk here today.
Gavin and Del were special people. They were well known to our Aboriginal communities all across this country of ours.
I deliberately say ‘special’ because they championed our struggles as only true enlightened people can – through a love of our people and our Culture.
You see, if you are a true champion for the rights of a country’s First Peoples, then you have to understand, accept and advocate far beyond the rhetoric of equality and social justice.
You have to believe in the inherent rights of First Peoples. Gavin and Del ensured that those around them were acutely aware of this. I don’t have to tell you all here today, how passionate they both were on issues that meant a lot to them, with Gavin never taking a step backwards, or being frightened to say what he believed in.
Our community have truly lost two of our finest advocates – there will never be another Gavin and Del.
To their families, you need to know that they were more than friends and colleagues. They will always remain a part of our family too.
For those of us who shared in the celebration of Gavin and Del’s wedding, we will always remember how proud Gavin was getting married in his kilt. So fiercely proud of his own heritage and how Del beamed throughout the day and night.
Since that day, they became virtually inseparable. One could easily use the analogy of a truck and trailer.
They shared these roles as Del would go with Gavin on his overseas work while Gavin would have had it no other way than to follow Del to Tasmania.
I believe he would have even gone to Antarctica to escape the scourges of climate change if Del thought this necessary.
My wife Louella (who is here with me today) and I first saw the pictures of their farm in Tasmania on the internet. Gavin’s initial uneasiness soon disappeared as the farm and its breathtaking surrounds proved to be even more beautiful in real life.
I must say, I had a little more faith in Del to get the farm up and running as I was acutely aware that their former East Freo gardens and chooks were all Del.
Louella and I spent several days in late July with our dear friends. Much to my surprise, Gavin was becoming quite the man of the land. So much so that Louella coined the phrase ‘Farmer and the Del’ when Gavin said he would have a tractor the next time we visited.
During this stay we had the opportunity to take Gavin and Del to Bruney Island with a large number of the local Aboriginal community.
Here they fed us on mutton bird and abalone, a first for the four of us. We had the most wonderful day. I do have to confess though, upon returning to the farm, I accidently let the chooks out which took me hours to get back into their pen. That night we waited for the native cats to show up, along with the possums and wallabies. Del had to raise the vegie gardens to try and protect what she was growing.
The next day was a tour of the local area and then off to Mount Wellington to see the snow. My wife had not seen snow before so we took our camera along to capture the moment.
I had been taking photos for the past few days but once at the snow, I must have accidently pressed the video function on my camera. It was a magic moment, my wife holding a snowball made by Gavin and just for the couple of seconds that the video recorded, we had captured Del saying to Gavin ‘I love you too sweetheart’.
This was the most enduring and unmistakable impression that we left Tasmania with – two people in love. It seemed that Gavin and Del had achieved so much of what they wanted to in life.
Del’s finished thesis work on climate change is her legacy to us.
Gavin’s huge volume of work on how humanity should treat its own family is now for us to action.
My wife and I will not only miss the nights out eating Thai or Chinese, but also Del’s famous Osso Buco, and Gavin’s infamous salmon pie.
Two beautiful people who cared for all those around them.
Two beautiful souls, who finally found one another, found love and true happiness.
Sure, Gavin could have written a few more books and Del could have been awarded a blue ribbon for her vegies, but these two remarkable people had already achieved so much.
Like our last campaign for Aboriginal rights (called) ‘Enough is Enough’, Gavin and Del it is now your time to begin a new journey together.
You have both done more than enough in this world and we thank you and will miss you dearly.
Thank you, Arthur and Courtney, John and Dennis, for your words of tribute.