Graham’s not slowing down any time soon

PETER SWEENEYMidwest Times
Graham Taylor, a man of many parts.
Camera IconGraham Taylor, a man of many parts. Credit: Peter Sweeney/The Midwest Times

Graham Taylor was pondering sitting on his backside in 2021 and letting the young ones “take over”.

Sounds good in theory . . . but it won’t work in practice.

For starters, Mr Taylor, who became a man when he was virtually still a boy, is too “hands-on”. Secondly, his people won’t allow him to take a step back.

The respect Mr Taylor, rising 69, commands, crosses all colours and classes.

It doesn’t matter when or where it is — a welcome to country, a school ceremony, flipping the coin at a footy game or whatever — people listen when he speaks in his soft and studious manner.

You don’t have the awards he has — though it’s hard to get him to talk about them — if you have spent much time sitting on ya backside.

Included among his many titles are NAIDOC elder of the year, both in WA and nationally, and he is a member of the Bundiyarra Aboriginal Community Hall of Fame.

Born in Three Springs, Mr Taylor was schooled at Coorow Primary and had two years at Carnamah High, before being sent to the Pallottine mission at Tardun, 150km east of Geraldton.

He spent 1969 in “ag school” at Tardun and playing footy for Mullewa colts. The following year the big world summoned, Mr Taylor and a cousin joining the army.

“We went to Perth and then it was off to Kapooka (NSW). We did recruit training and were put in an infantry at Liverpool,” he said.

“I turned 18 there and was allocated to the 4th battalion at Townsville. We did more training and on May 13, 1971, four days after I turned 19, we were off to Vietnam.

“I spent seven months overseas, working as a forward scout and as a stretcher bearer in the fields. We were called out just before Christmas, so I went to war as a teenager and returned home as a teenager.

“I later did two tours of guard duty at the Butterworth Air Base in Malaysia.

“The rest of my time in the army was around towns in north Queensland before I got out in 1976.”

He then returned to WA and found much more than work — headed by the “lady of his life”.

“I found my partner, Hazel, and we had two boys, Damian (40) and Adrian (39), and more or less settled in Geraldton,” Mr Taylor said.

“I was with Main Roads between 1982 and 1992, did a lot of machinery work and ended up operating a grader, cutting out corrugation and making drains. I liked it before I had two years with the prison at Greenough.”

Mr Taylor has always been a giver to community, even more so since the passing of Hazel eight years ago.

For many years, he was involved with the Streetworks Aboriginal Corporation, simply known as “Streeties”.

“I suppose it was 25 years I was with Streeties, being the chairman for three or four or five years,” Mr Taylor said.

“I saw a lot of development, but it was time for the younger generation to take over.

“It was time for me to help with a memorial to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander returned servicemen and women.

“There’s always something to be done, to attend. I was thinking of sitting on my backside this year, but . . .”.

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