One of La Perouse’s most respected and well-known identities, Laddie Timbery died on July 23. Laddie was known as the La Perouse Boomerang Man. He used to travel from Nowra every weekend with his boomerangs and other works and display and demonstrate them around the La Perouse Loop up until its redevelopment in 2011.
“Highly regarded and renowned around the world for his superb Aboriginal arts and crafts, he was also a devoted family man and a generous soul who would do anything for anyone. Highly respected in the South Coast community he was always happy to “have a yarn” and pass on his vast knowledge.”
A man with strong beliefs who was willing to offer an opinion on many different topics, he always had a smile on his face and will be remembered as one of the “genuine” nice guys. He had a vast knowledge of culture and history, and shared that through visits too numerous local schools.
Hubert “Laddie” Thomas Timbery was born at La Perouse on February 12, 1941.
He belonged to the Dharawal language group which spans from Sydney to Jervis Bay.
It was while he lived in Nowra in the mid to late 1950s, as a teenager, he met Ann Cullen who would later become his wife. After a four year courtship the couple married in the All Saints Anglican Church in Nowra on August 12, 1961. They would have four children, daughters Debra and Kerry who were both born in Nowra, and sons Paul and Jeffery, born in Sydney.
For many years, especially in the early part of his working life, he worked as a brickies’ labourer up and down the coast and then later drove and maintained trucks for Sydney fuel company Total.
In 1981 he and Ann “retired” to the Shoalhaven, but there wasn’t much rest as with help from his mother Rose and her partner Laddo they opened up an Aboriginal Arts and Craft Centre adjacent to the then Lady Denman Museum at Huskisson.
From there for the next 38 years he built up a reputation as an artist, legendary boomerang maker and thrower.
(Photo:Laddie with John Cann in January 2018 at the La Perouse Museum)
It was a career that saw him travel not only to almost every part of Australia but the world, with many visits to Canada and Switzerland, while his arts and crafts have also gone worldwide.
He also provided artwork used at the equestrian centre for the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
“There are pieces of his artwork everywhere,” said his eldest daughter Debra.
“You can’t really go anywhere major without seeing some of his artworks or a photo of him in his now famous pose, throwing a boomerang.”
(Photo: Randall Sinnamon’s portrait of Laddie which was a recent finalist in the Moran Portrait Prize)
He used the highly regarded and unique craftsmanship of “burning in”, to decorate a large variety of artefacts and artworks, a technique his family has been using for hundreds of years, and one the family continues with today.
The family is also well-known for its incredible shell work with his great grandmother Emma Timbery’s work sent to England for Queen Victoria in the early 1900s.
In between work Laddie was also a keen and accomplished rugby league player, taking the field until the ripe old age of 41.
He was also a very keen and talented golfer, becoming an A grade champion and also proudly representing the Indigenous golf team in New Zealand and Hawaii.
“Everyone just knew Dad,” youngest son Jeffery said.
He lost his love Ann 16 years ago in 2004, after more than 40 years of marriage but continued his work at the now Jervis Bay Maritime Museum with other family members with even more vigour.
When he was a little boy he had a dog named Laddie and everyone simply started referring to him as well as Laddie.
Jervis Bay Maritime Museum director Diana Lorentz paid tribute to Mr Timbery saying the organisation had been deeply saddened his death.
“Uncle Laddie has been an integral part of the museum since it opened in 1988 and over the years has provided an intangible link to Aboriginal culture for schools, locals and tourists,” she said.
“Engaging everyone with a wonderful sense of humour and engaging younger generations in a history that has often been forgotten.
“He will be sadly missed by everyone at the museum, past and present.”