Sunday, June 7, 2009
Donald Charles Skyvington [1941-2009]
After several decades of cerebral problems, difficult to elucidate and apparently impossible to treat, my brother Don died peacefully this evening in Brisbane, Queensland. During our childhood in South Grafton, New South Wales, Don was outstanding in many rural domains. From an early age, he was an exceptional bush horseman. Above all, he had an understanding of beef cattle that enabled him to be employed, when he was still a youth, as a professional auctioneer in the beef-cattle saleyards of South Grafton. It was there, unfortunately, when Don was still a child, that a thoughtless individual had slapped my brother's pony on the rump, causing it slip over and fall on Don's head, no doubt provoking internal lesions that were responsible for problems that reappeared constantly throughout his life. Much later, Don worked as a stockman with Aboriginal drovers on an Outback cattle station, in particularly rough conditions. In a profound Australian sense, Don was an eternal man of the bush, of a rare pioneering kind, like our father. In happier times, when I could communicate with him easily, we got along extremely well together. Among other things, shortly before I left Australia, we shared a flat in Sydney for a short time, and Don taught me how to play the cowboy guitar. A nurse who has been caring for my brother over the years told me recently that Don was very happy to tell people that his brother Billy had a family in France. Meanwhile, Don received regular visits from our three sisters: Anne (living in Coogee, whose evocation of our brother can be found here), Susan (Mullumbimby) and Jill (Woolgoolga).
For the rain never falls on the dusty Diamantina
And a drover finds it hard to change his mind
For the years have surely gone
Like the drays from Old Cork Station
And I won't be back till the drovin's done
— John Williamson
Several old photos of our brother can be found on this brief web page.