Jim Whyman was born at Cuthero station, on the lower Paaka (Darling River), where his father worked as a station hand. His first job, at the age of 10, was opening gates for his father. When he was about 12, he got a job cutting wood to fuel the paddle steamers and later did stock work and fencing. He was independent and hard working all his life. He was proud of his Paakantji heritage and said, ‘Language and culture – that’s what it’s all about’. He liked to pass on what he’d been taught.
Jim and his wife Maggie settled down in Wilcannia, where they reared their family. They were a wonderful couple – as one friend said, ‘Their relationship was based on absolute trust.’
One of Jim’s great grandchildren, Owen Whyman, says
‘My mum took care of Pop in his old age, after Nana Mag passed away. We lived with him. We used to rush home as soon as school finished and sit down with Pop and listen to his stories – he was a great story teller! Some of his stories were good, some were scary. Our favourites were the scary ones, like about Featherfoot and about the big bird in the sky that would swoop down and take you if you were out walking around at night. Us kids would go out at night and look up into the sky to see if we could see it.
‘Pop told us how they always used to work in his time – he didn’t like to see the young fellas just sitting around.
And Pop was a very skilled tracker – he was the last of the black trackers in this area. He was an important man in our community – he was loved and respected by all.’