Neale "Wombat" Dunphy was a man for the community, writes Tony McMahon. Chris Ison

READER'S VIEW: Wombat leaves a legendary legacy

Like so many in Capricornia, I was saddened to hear of the untimely death last Saturday of Neale Dunphy from Gogango.

I did not know him as that, but more so by his treasured moniker of "Wombat".

Neale, or should I say Wombat, was one of those down to earth Australians that went about his business in a modest but effective manner.

His business was "giving of himself".

To be truthful I didn't even know his Christian name, but mention the word Wombat and I always thought of him.

I got to know Wombat by circumstance through his association with the Rural Fire Brigade and SES, as he was always there when communities such as Stanwell required his assistance.

Wombat was one of those somewhat rare but treasured species of the Australian way of life - a giver.

A big man, Wombat had a big heart, a dry sense of humour but most importantly he cared about people and their community.

All too often the Wombats of our world are taken for granted and it is not until they pass that the genuine value of their giving is truly recognised. This could not be truer of Neale Dunphy.

A humble man, I am sure Wombat must have been inwardly proud that over decades of selfless service to his beloved communities particularly Gogango, that recognition was so rightly bestowed upon him.

Not that he would ever tell you though as unlike takers, Wombat did not even know the meaning of the word boastful.

It must be recorded, albeit sadly in his passing, that Wombat was a special man as were his awards.

That's because Wombat wore an invisible badge of honour through recognition for bravery in his undying gift of risking his own life for that of others.

The name Neale Dunphy is indelibly recorded as being a recipient of an Australian Bravery Medal.

It explains in part - "Acts of bravery in hazardous circumstances - 30/10/91".

Regrettably, I did not know of that while Wombat lived as I would have shaken his large hand.

At that time (1991) Wombat was only 24 but already a "giver" with a distinguished record.

More recently in 2009 the same Neale Dunphy, of Roselea, Gogango is listed as being a recipient of "Commendation for Brave Conduct".

Wombat was recognised for "assisting in a rescue attempt in floodwaters near Gogango" on 13/2/2008.

Neale Dunphy's celebration of life will take place at St Joseph Cathedral in Rockhampton on Friday, November 13.

Neale may have left us but the "Wombat" known to myself and countless others never will.

Great men and women not only create great words but are worthy of them, and such is the case with Neal Dunphy.

Albert Einstein could well have been writing about Neale when he penned - "Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile".

Vale Neale Michael Dunphy but rest assured your moniker of Wombat fittingly will insure your memory is immortal.

Tony McMahon, Stanwell

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