PC was an elder up at Cape York. He was a soldier in WW2. He was a Christian preacher.
He was someone who must be remembered, now that he has passed away at the wonderful age of 98.
I met PC in Wambion just outside of Canberra. Let me set the scene – then I will tell you about PC’s planet.
I had been working out at Wambion, in an editing studio set up by Lew Griffiths. The way it worked was simple; Lew travelled the country collecting footage and interviews, which were fed by me, edited, to a hungry media covering the rising Native Title story.
It was a good idea. We got to control the message to some degree.
The place was also the basecamp for what was called the Aboriginal Native Title Negotiation Team. Or the A team, to be precise.
It was a great job. A great period of Australia’s history. I had a front row seat. Taught me a lot about public persuasion.
It was a pleasure to work alongside Lew and people like Noel Pearson and Marcia Langton.
Great parties too. Raucous affairs.
PC was the elder who would come to Canberra for big press moments. Black Friday, when the A Team turned on Keating and attacked. Ruby Tuesday when Keating caved in and gave us what they wanted, well mostly.
As these were always decided on quickly, PC would come down in plenty time when the team felt things were hotting up.
So, PC was around a lot. So was I. The team would be off doing something somewhere. PC and me would stay behind.
So, PC started to hang out with me in the edit suite. Just watch as I edited up little packets of messages and sent them around the country.
At this stage PC was in his late seventies.
We talked a bit about stuff. I learnt about his life.
Like when he was chained to his mother, at the age of seven, and walked hundreds of miles off their country to the Cape. Of the nightly rapes of his mother. Him still chained to her.
I cried. It was simply so horrible and made more so by PC’s somewhat perfunctory retelling.
I ask him how he could possibly have anything to do with white-fellas – like me.
He says I am OK. I am fighting for them. I am OK.
The subtext was that there might be white-fellas he wouldn’t want to talk to. It’s not like he talked all the time.
It might have been so if it was not for PC’s religion. He was a minister in one of the churches, Anglican I think. A real bona-fide preacher man.
PC had long ago turned the other cheek.
So, there were loads of amazing conversations with PC.
The stand out for me was told as we lazed by the pool. The team were far away, battling at the coalface of black-fella rights, we were lazing about the pool.
PC just blurted out the story. He started with something like “I have another planet where I live.”
Words to that effect.
He goes there when he goes to sleep. Just like he had just done. Dozed off and went to his other planet.
He is the elder there. He is the elder of the whole planet.
Every night he goes to the planet and he makes sure its all good there.
In the dreamtime, he confirms.
End of story.
Short but quite profound.
I assure you PC was being serious. The last line was delivered while staring into my eyes and with a knowing nod of the head.
A few minutes later he tells me it’s secret business.
But now that PC has left us for his other planet, I feel OK to tell his story.
The story of PC’s planet.
Have fun on your other planet PC. Maybe I can pop in one day after I shake this mortal coil.
Your ninety-eight years on this planet were amazing. Thank your for the few months I got to share with you.