Reginald Murray Williams

Archive Collections / Reginald Murray Williams
Born : 24 May, 1908
Died : 04 October, 2003

Reginald Murray Williams was born at Clare (South Australia) on 24 May 1908. As a young man he worked as a stockman in South Australia and then travelled to Western Australia where he worked for some time at Mount Margaret Mission, constructing water tanks. He was then employed by Bill Wade, a missionary with what was then the Australian Aborigines Mission (later the United Aborigines Mission), as camel-man and guide for Wade's expedition into the central desert in 1927. During this expedition the two men travelled from Oodnadatta through the Musgrave and Mann Ranges and into the Tomkinson Ranges in Western Australia, preaching Christianity to the Aboriginal people they encountered. Williams provides an account of this expedition in his autobiography Beneath whose hand. The autobiography of R. M. Williams (with O Ruhen) and in his more recent book A song in the desert.

After the expedition with Wade, Williams worked as a stockman in the north-west of South Australia, and also made at least one dogging trip westwards into the Central Australian Aboriginal Reserves, collecting dingo scalps for the bounty offered by the South Australian Government. In 1929 he married Thelma Cummings and they had two children, Diane, born in 1930, and Ian, born in 1932. In the early 1930s Williams moved to the Flinders Ranges where he learned leatherwork. In the late 1930s he established a workshop in Prospect, north of Adelaide, which developed over the next two decades into a multi-million dollar business producing boots and a range of stockman's gear and clothing. He lives today in Longreach, Queensland.

During the 1940s and 1950s he was involved in a number of business enterprises including gold-mining in the Northern Territory and growing tea in New Guinea. He left his first wife in the late 1940s and married again. In the 1950s he and his second wife moved to Queensland where they acquired a property near Toowoomba. Williams played an important role in the establishment of the Stockman's Hall of Fame at Longreach, Queensland. He died at Toowoomba on 4 October 2003, aged 95.

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Prepared ByTom Gara