Passionate Aboriginal rights advocate leaves Bundaberg
AT 81, Colin Johnson's passion for Aboriginal rights and advancement is as strong as ever.
Mr Johnson has championed many indigenous causes in the Bundaberg region since he relocated here for family reasons in 1991, despite having to keep a watchful eye over his type 2 diabetes and overcoming prostate cancer.
If there is one thing he holds as close to his heart as fighting for Aboriginal rights it is his family.
He was born in Brisbane in 1934 and Mr Johnson's family moved to Bundaberg a year or two later.
Based in Miriam Vale, from where his father originally hailed, Mr Johnson attended St Patrick's in West Bundaberg before the family shifted to Tiaro for work.
"I was about 13 when I got a job at the sugar mill just south of Tiaro," Mr Johnson said.
"I also worked in the forestry and when we were old enough to cut cane, my brothers and I did that in the 1950s."
In his twenties, when Mr Johnson moved to North Queensland to cut cane for a living, he met the love of his life, Hilda.
In 1959, he and his wife Hilda moved to Mt Isa to work at the mine to ensure his six children were raised in a secure stable place.
He worked at the mine for about 30 years.
It was in Mt Isa where Mr Johnson became involved and proactive in Aboriginal advancement in the 1970s through the establishment of the Aboriginal Legal Service in Mount Isa; and Aboriginal Foster Parent's Association.
In 1991 with his father's health declining, Mr Johnson moved back to Bundaberg to take care of him.
Mr Johnson quickly became active in Aboriginal causes in the Bundaberg region and became the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission Wide Bay representative.
In 1992, he became the first Aboriginal man to raise the Aboriginal flag in Bundaberg on the Bundaberg Regional Council flagpoles at Buss Park.
"That was a great achievement," he said.
"I approached the mayor of Bundaberg at the time Kay McDuff and we got along really well.
"I was told I needed to get permission from police and the council."
Mt Johnson was also part of the team that organised the first street march during NAIDOC week in Bundaberg.
"We went through all that process and I met the board and said we should do a march up the street as well," he said.
"We put a proposal to council and bugger me dead they approved it.
"I'll never forget it."
Mr Johnson also had a hand in developing what was the Community Development Employment Projects office in Bundaberg to what is now the Indigenous Wellbeing Centre.
"It's unbelievable to see it change and grow to what it is today," he said
While the desire to continue to help still burns brightly, Mr Johnson believes it's time to pass the baton on.
"Most of my family is in Townsville, so it's time I went up there to spend time with them,' he said.
"It's time for younger people to look after things."