Territory Stories

Debates Day 5 - Wednesday 17 October 2007



Debates Day 5 - Wednesday 17 October 2007

Other title

Parliamentary Record 17


Debates for 10th Assembly 2005 - 2008; 10th Assembly 2005 - 2008; Parliamentary Record; ParliamentNT




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





Publisher name

Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

Place of publication


File type



Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

Copyright owner

Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



Parent handle


Citation address


Page content

DEBATES Wednesday 17 October 2007 4889 The first is my very first trip out bush with him to our Research Station in Kapalga in Kakadu. It was the afternoon of the second day of the trip and I managed to lose him. Wed taken a short cut into one of the research spots of Kapalga and from where we ended up, he wasnt quite sure how to get to the starting point of our sample transects. He told me to stay by the car and hed go off and find it. Off he went by himself to sort things out. I had the car, the radio, the compass, the map, etcetera, but not a clue about where we actually were. He had his hat, his cigarettes and a bit of flagging tape. After 15 minutes, I was a bit worried, and after half-an-hour, I felt duty bound to radio Gus and Tony for help. They duly came and reassured me that he would be okay. Sure enough, after an hour, out he wanders, whistling and singing, happy as Larry. Turns out hed gone the wrong way to start and got a bit bushed, but he managed to find what he was looking for and made sure that he marked it and sussed it out, making sure we would not get bushed again if we used the short cut. This episode taught me two very valuable lessons: first, in the matters of direction and location, he was spot on and he did it with extraordinary skill by referring to individual trees, sand palms or even peculiar clumps of grass. It was simply extraordinary to watch and be a part of it. The second lesson was that the other guys at CSIRO had great faith in him. Jack, lost? No way! Hell be back. Dont worry, son. I thought to myself: This is a bit of a family here. It was a very special moment. The second concerns another scientist, Garry Cook, and the GPS. Garry cant be here today, but he wants this story told. They were on a field trip and the lab had just taken possession of its first GPS. We forked out $5000, ten times the price of machines these days that are twice as good, an enormous amount of money. The party stopped on the road side to take a positional reading with the GPS. These days, GPS instruments are pocket-size, held in the hand, turn it on, wait 30 seconds for your position and bingo, Bobs your uncle. In those days, a GPS was about the size of a house brick, took several minutes to initialise and were easily put off the scent unless you put them in the middle of the road or somewhere similar, like the roof of the car. Now, the main trick in taking a GPS reading from the roof of a car is to remember to retrieve it before you get back in and take off. Cookie forgot. About 80 km later, the penny dropped. They all stopped, hoping against hope that it was still on the roof but, while sometimes miracles happen, this wasnt one of them. So around they turned and went looking for it. Sure enough, Jack told Gary to slow down just at the right time, and bingo! There it was: five grands worth of plastic and electronics in the middle of the road a few hundred metres up from where they had all stopped. Remarkable? Yes, but also wholly predictable, knowing Jack and his keen eye and memory. The third was another field trip to Kakadu. We had to spend the night in Jabiru and Jack had organised to stay at Jessie Aldersons place. We had just pulled up in the driveway and had barely opened the doors when this wave of kids came rushing out from every which way. Uncle Kojak! Uncle Kojak! I never forgot that one, either, as it said so much about the esteem that Jack was held in by his family and his people, young and old. That was true in Jabiru, Darwin, the VRD and anywhere else Jack went. To those of us who have survived him, especially his family and friends here today and elsewhere, Id just like to conclude by saying weve only happy memories. Jack, your spirit remains with us and we are all so much the richer for having known you. To ensure that Jacks legacy lives on, CSIRO will establish a scholarship program for secondary school students that will be named in his honour. The program will see Aboriginal kids receiving mentorship in science and working with CSIRO during school holidays, which will hopefully be the start of careers that will build on the proud tradition of our dear, dear departed friend, Jack Cusack. Qullum. Mr Deputy Speaker, the Cusack family is well known, not only through Jack, but through his sons in all facets of Territory life. No doubt they will carry on his proud name and believe in what he represented in his life. In the short time I have left, I want to talk about two special constituents, young fellows who have made their families very proud. Some people may have read of an incident at Freshwater Creek last year where a group of young fellows, like I did many times over the years, after school went down to Freshwater Creek to have a swim through the rapids. Whilst they were down there, they