This beautiful man is shiny in personality and loves to have a laugh. He’s a famous Australian Aboriginal – or as they call themselves BAMA.This is the proud owner and operator of Guurrbi Tours, Cooktown. Everyone loves this man!! Check out the business reviews on TripAdvisor. He has a unique way of getting deep into your soul and bringing out your shine. Willie Gordon, an Aboriginal Elder, takes people on Rock Art Tours on the same land he walked with his Grandfather and Father.
I had the great honour of interviewing this amazing Bama a few months ago. We talked about everything under the stars, but the one thing he mentioned that really made me think was the meaning of the word Guurrbi and how it came to be an inspiration for his business.
“I used to smoke and drink but after thinking about my life I decided to change. I’d like people to know that I tried to do this about 3 or 4 times. It’s not an easy thing to do. It’s hard to change. I’ve come across that are searching for answers – I can relate to this.”
“As a young boy any time there was an argument in the house my refuge was to run and sit on a rock under the house hoping that things would resolve. I wondered if this is what was expected of me when I grew up. I now know this rock became my Guurrbi. Guurrbi means time and place that I created to reflect on what I was going to do in life. Anyone can create this time and place for spiritual reflection.”
“Anyone can create this time and place for spiritual reflection.”
“My ancestors nominated an area on the land which made you feel spiritually connected to self and land. In this place of power you think about what you’re going to do and then you make a decision about what you are going to do. In my tours both adults and children have the opportunity to experience Guurrbi.”
Where are you from?
“My grandfather and father used to live in a cave in Hopevale. They were from the Nugal Warra tribe. My Grandmother on my Dad’s side is from the Thupi tribe. My mother was from Yaraba. The government and the church put them on a reserve so no one lives on country here any more. We don’t spear fish to live any more – we do it more for sport. Some can spear fish for Blue Tailed Mullet, but it’s more of an achievement than way of living.”
What did you do for work before Guurrbi Tours?
“I worked in Mount Isa for Transfield working for the mines as a welder. Then I took up working in various places as a welder and then I wanted to help people with mental health and became a health worker. I went to a program that was focused on helping Aboriginal to education them about themselves. I was interested in mental health because there were a fair amount of suicides happening during those times. In 1984-86 or so I was in the local government and we took the administration off the church. This was a big step towards Aboriginal self determination. At one time I got called up to develop Apunipima Cape York Health Council, which is still successfully running today. After that I was given an opportunity by Judy who came to the community seeking out Aboriginal people who were interested in starting up a business.”
Willie Gordon is one amazing Bama Elder strong in his Aboriginal culture who has done some amazing things in his life helping his people. Now he runs Rock Art Tours in Hopevale (near Cooktown, North Queensland, Australia).
Willie takes people on country where his Grandfather and Father used to live in caves. There you see their ancestors ancient Aboriginal Rock Art paintings and Willie will tell you amazing stories from their family.
Willie Gordon is also a famous Aboriginal Australian icon. He has even shook the Queen of England’s hand when she visited Cooktown and has had John Howard doing a Rock Art Tour! His picture is an icon for Tourism North Queensland and is often seen on television ads for TTNQ and he’s even on a billboard in the Cairns airport. People come from all over the world just to do a tour with Willie.