Tim Walk
Yolngu (Nhulunbuy, East Arnhem Land, Northern Territory)
Corporal (retired)
Armourer/Weapons Specialist
Royal Australian Air Force

Defence Force Service Medal
Australian Defence Medal

I was born in Darwin in 1963 where my father, who was the child of German immigrants, worked as an Air Force Blacksmith in Darwin, Tindal and surrounds. Because my father’s parents worked a lot, he spent a great deal of his childhood with a local Aboriginal family where he was taught a lot about their culture.  Although my mother was of Aboriginal heritage, it was my father who and taught me to how make bullroarers, boomerangs, and spears. My mother never really spoke about her people, so I grew up not knowing my where my connection to culture or Country was. My school days were a nightmare as I was the smallest in my class, not black and not white, I was constantly in situations where I learned to run fast from the bullies. I was fascinated with flight from an early age, spending hours laying under the frangipani tree watching its flowers spiral to earth, spinning like helicopter blades. The RAAF Base was nearby, and aircraft constantly flew overhead. When I was 13 my aunty took me to RAAF Base Amberley as a treat. I was shown over the Canberra Bomber, F-111, Iroquois and several facilities. When shown the impact of detonators on aircraft and safety implications for Iroquois aircrew upon engine failure, I designed a system where the rotor blade bolts would detonate allowing the pilots to eject. I sent my idea to the ABC’s Inventors program and although encouraging, they said it would never happen. Russia’s Kamov Ka-50 helicopter has the ejection system I described as a 13-year-old!

I left home in 1981 and, looking for adventure, I joined the RAAF. After recruit training in South Australia, I trained as an Armourer at Wagga and then posted to Williamtown for 15 years working on Mirage, Macchi and Hornet aircraft. During my time in the RAAF I dedicated myself to designing several safety innovations notably the WASP Parachute System and received much encouragement from Indigenous RAAF Vietnam veterans who taught me to embrace who I was. I left the RAAF in 1997 and worked for a variety of organisations where my work ethic and skills were rewarded, eventually moving into mining at Ravensthorpe (2007). In 2008 I transferred to Nhulunbuy where for the first time in my life something clicked and I felt an inner peace. I began seeing many faces that resembled my uncles and my mum. People came up to me, saying ‘Welcome back, where have you been? You’re one us, we recognise you.’ I replied telling them and their Elders about the strong spiritual connection I felt and that I finally belonged.

In 2018 I relocated down to Sydney to become Safety Manager for all the tunnel constructions. Unfortunately in 2023 serious health issues began to impact my life and after several critical life-saving surgeries and ongoing treatment, I was forced into retirement. I met Mel when she offered me support as I dealt with my health issues. Talking every day, we soon became friends and fell in love. She is the love of my life who accepts me for who I am.

The LAC’s Life

It’s O’Dark Hundred as I fall out of my cosy bed,

I quickly prep myself for work and head off to be fed,

The bloody tucker in the mess there’s quite a lot of it,

The sad thing is that every day it always tastes like shit.

I get my butt at steady pace to walk a K to work,

When suddenly a frightening noise from Yard Stick wielding Jerk,

LAC your hairs too long and shoes they have no shine,

Report to me on Friday arv you need some marching time.

I finally get myself to work 10 minutes past Parade,

And get a pineapple from the boss for poor decisions made,

Its weapons program time of year we must be at our best,

So Knuckle heads can drop their bombs and out shoot all the rest

We tow Mirages to the FRA where Gunnies do their thing,

And wear a gallon of Avtur that leaks from underwing,

We load the Gun Pack with some rounds and winch the bastard in,

And tighten all the mounting bolts and lock the barrels in.

We whack a PM3 on board, the pylon centreline,

And then dispenser for the bombs our day is going fine.

We’ve loaded lots of Pracki Bombs upon the shiny Suu’s

With 6 per jet of deep Saxe blue our little BDU’s.

The knuckleheads they come to climb aboard their Dassault Jet,

And banter as they arm their SUU’s, Intervalometer set,

They strap the jet upon their bum and launch in to the sky,

It makes one ponder at the thought of how these bastards fly.

With mission done they head for home and land upon the field,

And taxi back into the lines with weapons score revealed,

We load again beneath the shower of fuel that’s poured within,

We never even give a thought if what it does to skin,

The week has really gone so well with many missions flown,

Its Friday Avro, time at last to head off back to home,

When bloody hell it dawns on me that I am running late,

To march for hours in my own time with Yard Stick Wielding Mate.


– Tim Walk

Anzac Day

We have a day to honour them on April Twenty Five,
We show respect for their brave deeds, give thanks that we survived,
With medals worn and heavy heart, the Diggers start their march,
In uniforms so neatly pressed and ironed firm with starch.

A drummer’s beat will keep the time as more fall into line,
To snake their way in steady pace to gather at the shrine,
Where bugle plays a sombre note as Last Post greets the dawn,
With thousands standing, heads all bowed and faces so forlorn,

The Bugle springs to life again as Reveille is played,
To raise the Spirits from the dead and prepare for another day,
With Soldier’s Spirits on the breeze as Sun Rays start to shine,
The goosebumps tingle on my skin and then start to decline,

On folks with medals pinned on chests, the glistening begins,
As Medals glow in Sunlit haze, the Spirits dance within,
Heads once bowed now lift up high; their hearts are filled with pride,
In honour of all those who served, especially those who died.

For age, it shall not weary them, nor will the years condemn,
At Sunset and again at Dawn, we shall remember them,
We shall always honour them and show our true respect,
With heart-felt praise for those who served for us,  Lest We Forget


Tim Walk 23/04/2020

Thank you to retired Corporal Tim Walk for providing these personal images illustrating his early fascination, and his service with the Royal Australian Air Force, his creative talents, and and his enduring sense of Culture and Country.,

Drawing by Tim Walk when he was 13 years old illustrating his design for a helicopter ejection seat system – explosive bolts blow off the rotor blades allowing the crew to eject safely.  Later actually used in the Russian Kamov Ka52 helicopter gunship!

Newspaper article from 1980 describing some of the inventions devised by an air-minded Tim Walk who was then 17 and about to take his first parachute jump and embark on a career in the RAAF.

A fearless young Tim Walk grasping the strut of his aircraft suspended far above the Earth about to launch off on another of his many parachute jumps.

RAAF Mirage fighter A3-6 – painting by Cpl Tim Walk for his retiring Commanding Officer (WgCdr Neil Burlinson) in 1994.

Leather belt carved by Tim Walk for a friend’s daughter who represented Australia in the World Weightlifting Championships in Texas USA. Front view displaying the Goanna and Wedge-tailed Eagle.

Leather belt carved by Tim Walk for a friend’s daughter who represented Australia in the World Weightlifting Championships in Texas USA. Side view displaying the Aboriginal Flag.