Rob Bryant (Clive/Joe)
Gumbaynggirr Warrior (NSW North Coast)
Royal Australian Air Force
Australian Active Service Medal 1945-75 with clasp
Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal
Returned from Active Service Badge
I grew up in the 1950’s at Bellwood Mission, Nambucca Heads and I was just six years old when my father died of a brain haemorrhage. I was the youngest of eight and with the 2 eldest girls having already left home, mum supported us 6 kids by bean picking, washing, ironing and house-cleaning to supplement her widow’s pension. In 1959 we moved to Sydney and by working hard – and with the support of my mother and older brother, Jeff – I went to Woodlawn College in Lismore on a scholarship.
After getting my NSW Leaving Certificate, I enlisted with the Royal Australian Air Force in Sydney 1967 using my dad’s name Joe Bryant. I was based at 1RTU RAAF Base Edinburgh and trained at RAAF Base Wagga Wagga Technical School where I learned engineering and became qualified as an air-frame fitter in 1969. I was then based at RAAF Base Fairbairn servicing 5 Sqn Iroquois helicopters and completed a Tour of Duty (1970-71) based at RAAF Base Vung Tau in South Vietnam, servicing 9 Sqn Iroquois helicopters. Returning to Australia, I was based at RAAF Base Richmond (1971-73) servicing 36 Sqn C130A Hercules aircraft.
In 1973 I was honourably discharged at RAAF Base Richmond after completing a 6-year term of enlistment. Government policies of the 1990’s and 1980’s focused on self-determination, so as I returned serviceman, I had all the confidence in the world I was fully aware of what self-determination meant. I wanted to work with my mob, and I this was the right time and the right place to do this. I then worked with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community at Bennelong’s Haven and then as the founding General Manager and founding Director of Bangarra Dance Theatre Australia (1990-94). I have been instrumental in a number of other initiatives, very notably as part of the collective that gave birth to the Boomali Aboriginal Artists Cooperative. I got a Bachelor’s of Business from the Univerity of Technology Sydney in 2000.
I started Just Too Deadly Merchandise in 2013, an Aboriginal-owned business enterprise based in Nambucca Heads on the North Coast of New South Wales, Australia supplying work wear, casual wear, and promotional merchandise to the public until I retired and closed the business in 2017.
In 2014, I attended the Coloured Diggers March in Redfern and became the very first veteran that Belinda photographed.