• Mr J Wavehill passed away on Wednesday aged 85. (Supplied: Northern Land Council)Source: Supplied: Northern Land Council
One of the last surviving Aboriginal stockmen to take part in the Wave Hill walk-off over unpaid wages has died aged 85.
27 Aug 2021 - 2:53 PM  UPDATED 27 Aug 2021 - 2:53 PM

One of the last surviving Aboriginal stockmen to take part in strike action at Wave Hill Station in the Northern Territory over unpaid wages has died.

J Wavehill died on Wednesday aged 85. The prominent Territorian was one of 200 Gurindji stockmen and domestic workers who took part in the now-famous Wave Hill walk-off 55 years ago.

The dispute ran for seven years and eventually led to the return the Gurindji people's homelands and the birth of Land Rights for Australian Indigenous people.

Native Title rights recognised over famous Wave Hill Station
The station at the centre of the Wave Hill walk-off that kicked off the Aboriginal land rights movement now recognised under Native Title for the Gurindji peoples and families of those striking workers.

Then-prime minister Gough Whitlam travelled to Wave Hill Station for the hand back ceremony in 1975.

Mr Wavehill was 18 when he joined his brother-in-law, Vincent Lingiari, to demand 'a fair go' and protested over wages and their appalling working conditions. His death came two days after the anniversary of the strike that started on August 23, 1966.

Mr Wavehill was renowned for his storytelling, humour and horsemanship. He was also a devoted family man and a passionate advocate for his people and their land rights.

"He was a courageous leader who always stood up for his mob," Northern Land Council chair Samuel Bush-Blanasi said 

"This is a very sad time for the community. We have lost a hero of the land rights movement," chief executive Joe Martin-Jard said.

Mr Wavehill's family has approved the use of his name.

Gurindji mob celebrate anniversary of Wave Hill Walk-Off
Today marks 53 years since hundreds of Gurindji stockmen and their families walked off Wave Hill protesting against poor working conditions and the theft of their Country by pastoralists.