Latest information about news and events regarding Rona Tranby Trust and the Rona Tranby Award & Collection.


A Special Message from the Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon. Malcolm Turnbull MP

The Rona Tranby Trust is grateful for the support shown by representatives of the Australian Government for the Australian Light Horse Centenary Project.

It is a particular honour to have received a personal letter from the Prime Minister, the Hon. Malcolm Turnbull MP.

Read Mr. Turnbull's message.


A Special Message from Minister for Veterans Affairs

The Rona Tranby Trust’s Australian Light Horse Centenary Project recently received this letter of support from the Minister for Veterans' Affairs, the Hon. Dan Tehan.

Read Mr. Tehan's message.


Recipients Chosen

The Rona Tranby Trust’s Australian Light Horse Centenary Project aims to record the stories of Indigenous Light Horsemen who served in the Australian Light Horse in the Middle East during World War I, as told by their descendants.

The Rona Tranby Trust is delighted to announce that, after an extensive search, twelve descendants have been chosen to receive grants to record their ancestors' histories and to attend the centenary commemorations in Beersheba on 31 October 2017.

Read all about the recipients and their ancestors.


"Indigenous contribution to Charge" Australian Jewish News

Two major projects will result in groups of Indigenous Australians travelling to Israel in October to participate in the re-enactment of the Australian Light Horse Charge that resulted in the capture of Beersheva from the Turks 100 years ago.

The Rona Tranby Trust’s Australian Light Horse Centenary Project will record the stories of Indigenous Light Horsemen who served in the Middle East during World War I, as told by their descendants. A group of these descendants will then saddle up in Beersheva on October 31 to participate in the re-enactment.

Jennifer Symonds, the Rona Tranby Trust representative on the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (JBOD), said at the board’s May plenum “when we launched the project last year we didn’t realise just how huge it was going to be”.

“The oral history part is so important to both our [the Australian Aboriginal and Jewish] peoples. The stories emerging from all over Australia that I have read so far are absolutely amazing.”

So far $90,000 of a target of $100,000 for the project has been raised through donations to the Trust. Symonds said this was a great result, and further funds raised will enable a documentary by SBS to be produced.

The project has been endorsed by the federal Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Dan Tehan.

Another project called From the Bush to Beersheva, led by Chris Barr, is raising funds to take a group of young Aboriginal people from the outback town of Ntaria (Hermannsburg) to participate in the Charge re-enactment in Beersheva.The group has already done a mini re-enactment of the famous charge, across 125km of desert near Alice Springs.

To find out more, visit and

Shane Desiatnik


"Be part of war project" Shepparton News

A call has gone out for descendants of indigenous Australian soldiers who took part in the Battle of Beersheba and the Sinai-Palestine campaign to be part of an oral history project.

Veterans’ Affairs Minister Dan Tehan said a national service would be held on October 31 to mark the centenary of the Battle of Beersheba and the Sinai-Palestine Campaign in Be’er Sheva, Israel.

The battle involved two Australian Light Horse regiments which charged Turkish positions outside the town of Beersheba, taking more than 1000 prisoners. The nature of the victory has earned Beersheba an enduring place in Australian wartime history.

The Rona Tranby Trust is launching an oral history project to record the stories of these men as recalled by their descendants, culminating in a group of descendants attending the national service in Be’er Sheva.

Mr Tehan said many indigenous men had served in the Light Horse.

‘‘This project will recognise the important contribution indigenous Australians made at the Battle of Beersheba and will honour the service and sacrifice of every Australian who served in that campaign by bringing these stories to life for everyone,’’ he said.

Anyone interested in taking part in the project should phone Ray Minniecon on 0417 929 701 or Meltem Akyol on (02) 92314293 or email

Details about the commemorations in Israel are available at


"Cavalry Commemoration" Sydney Morning Herald

Too long a story to go into, just trust me. A mob I know is gearing up to commemorate the role of Indigenous Australians in the famous charge of the Australian Light Horse at Beersheba at dusk on 31 October, 1917.

As part of the work of the Rona Tranby Trust, an organisation committed to preserving the legacy of the first Australians by recording oral histories from their descendants, the plan is to take 10 descendants of those Indigenous Light Horsemen to this year's centenary re-enactment in Israel and to have them play a part in the formal commemoration.

They have found several such descendants, but would like more. Please contact Roland Gridiger at if you'd like to know more.

Peter FitzSimons


"Bid to saddle up Indigenous Light Horse history" National Indigenous Times

Almost 100 years since the famous Battle of Beersheba in the Middle East, a project is underway to give the Indigenous Light Horsemen who fought in World War I their rightful place in Australian history.

Sydney Pastor Ray Minniecon, whose grandfather Private James Lingwoodock was a member of the 11th Light Horse brigade, says the stories of our Indigenous heroes need to be preserved before they are lost to time.

“This is not just about my grandfather,” Minniecon says. “This is bigger than Ben Hur. This is a huge story that has never been properly unfolded and told.”

To uncover the stories behind Indigenous Light Horsemen such as Private Lingwoodock, the not-for-profit Rona Tranby Trust is attempting to collect and preserve their histories through their descendants.

Trust spokeswoman Meltem Akyol says they want to get in touch with the families of Light Horsemen who know their ancestors’ stories and will be prepared to have them orally recorded.

The Battle of Beersheba on October 31, 1917 was part of the wider British offensive known as the Third Battle of Gaza. The final phase of the battle was the mounted charge of the 4th Light Horse Brigade, which stormed Turkish defences and seized the town.

The capture of Beersheba allowed British Empire forces to later advance into Palestine, according to the Australian War Memorial. Later this year a group of descendants of Light Horsemen will travel to Beersheba in Israel for a centenary memorial service.

Minniecon is hoping both the Light Horsemen history project and travelling to the centenary service will help him fill in the gaps in his grandfather’s life.

Minniecon knows Lingwoodock, from Queensland, was posted to the Middle East and Europe and that he received medals for his service. But he would like to know more, such as how his grandfather, who was a Kabi man on his mother’s side and of South Sea Islander descent on his father’s, came to saddle up for Australia.

He’d also like to know more about what he faced and how, after surviving a mustard gas attack in Europe and being hospitalised in England, he returned home.

“The Light Horse brigades in Australia had the highest number of Indigenous soldiers of all the different battalions and regiments,” Minniecon says. “We think it could be up to as high as 200 or more.

“So the reasons why we set this up was to make sure we get this story.That was the first World War so we didn’t have access to those old people as much as we’d like to. The Aboriginal Protection Acts prevented us from having good access to all of our old people. So we’re going on as much information as we can.”

Mr Minniecon says he does know his grandfather got into the services by saying he was brought up by white people — which was not true. He says many of the Indigenous men of the time, such as his grandfather, were good horsemen and worked in the pastoral industry driving cattle and sheep.

“I think it is for the betterment of our people to know the ancestor heroes we have amongst us,” he says. “We’ve got Rats of Tobruk, we’ve got people who fought in Gallipoli and on the Western Front. What a lot of people don’t realise is a lot of Aboriginal people got distinguished medals for their bravery.”

“If we don’t do anything about it, then that story is lost too.”

The project coordinators can be contacted on 02 9231 4293 or

Wendy Caccetta


Australian Light Horse Centenary Project

The Rona Tranby Trust is excited to be initiating and supporting a project that will record the stories and honour the Aboriginal & Torres Straight Islander WW1 soldiers of the Australian 4th Light Horse Brigade, which fought in the Middle East and took part in the legendary 'Charge of the 4th Australian Light Horse Brigade'

Download our Media Release for more information.


Today, is a sad day. Kevin Cook, the first Indigenous head of Tranby Aboriginal College in Sydney, has died. Kevin, or Cookie, as he was known to everyone, had been confined to bed with emphysema for many years.

The disease crippled his body but it did not constrain his mind. Cookie never gave up fighting for what he believed in, the rights of Aboriginal people, the working class, and the oppressed of the world. From his bed he advised and encourage the never ending flow of visitors.

In all the years that I knew him I never heard him complain about his own predicament. Neither did I hear him badmouth a single person. He died as poor as he was born, because Cookie was concerned not with self-enrichment, but with the enrichment of the many.

Professor Heather Goodall, in introducing Cookie’s story to readers of, Making Change Happen, said, “He was well-known as a unionist, as an advocate of innovative, Aboriginal-controlled adult education, highly respected as a nation-wide land rights organiser, a key player in transnational links with liberation movements and a man of exceptional integrity and dynamism.”

But Cookie’s book is not in the normal meaning a book about him. Heather went on to say, “Cookie was not interested in searching for the meaning of his own life. Instead, he has always focussed on what he grew up calling ‘sticking fats’ – sticking together with fellow activists, sharing the good and the bad in everything he was involved in – sharing not just the hopes but the hard work to reach goals and the scarce resources you had to live on to get there.”

Kevin was born in 1939 of the Wandandian people, and grew up in the steel town of Wollongong on the New South Wales south coast. He is a much missed, friend, comrade and inspiration. Cookie has always been, and always will be, the heart and soul of Tranby Aboriginal College.

Derek Mortimer - Friends of Tranby


Dr Belinda Russon, CEO of Tranby Aboriginal College, addressed the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies at the Sydney Jewish Museum in the lead up to National Reconciliation Week. She spoke about the Rona Tranby Trust, Tranby College & Reconciliation.


The Keewong Mob & members of the Western Heritage Group travelled to Varuna, Katoomba, as part of the Sydney Writers Festival, to give a presentation about the Rona Tranby Trust supported book, Yamakarra! Liza Kennedy and the Keewong Mob.

29th Nov 2014

Once Upon a Long Ago by Albert Williams - book launched at Tranby Aboriginal College by Hetti Perkins.

22nd Nov 2013

Yamakarra! Liza Kennedy & the Keewong Mob - book launched at Tranby Aboriginal College by Leah Purcell. Book available through Gleebooks in Glebe, Sydney.

27th Sep 2013

Making Change Happen: Black & White Activists talk to Kevin Cook about Aboriginal, Union & Liberation Politics - book launched at Tranby Aboriginal College by the Hon. Linda Burney MP & Paddy Crumlin. The book is available as a free download or can be ordered as a hardcopy online at

24th June 2013

Yidumduma Bill Harney received the 2012 Rona Tranby Award for his work on the Yubulyawan Dreaming Project. His award was presented to Paul Taylor at Tranby Aboriginal College, Sydney on 24th June 2013.

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Rona Tranby
Award & Collection

Level 4
Culwulla Chambers
67 Castlereagh St
Sydney NSW 2000