A man of the bush at heart

National Volunteers Week 2019 - George Riley

George Riley is a man at home in the bush.

Born on the Beemunnel Aboriginal Reserve on the northern outskirts of Warren in 1940, George has lived all his life in the district, working as drover and station hand on local pastoral properties.

Since retiring, George has turned his hand to community work, volunteering for several organisations including the Warren Macquarie Local Aboriginal Land Council (LALC) where he has been the Chair for longer than he cares to remember.

"I just love volunteering, helping country people out the best way I can," George said.

"There's nothing better than stopping for a yarn and finding out what I can do to help."

Over the past 10 years, George has volunteered on biodiversity surveys in the Macquarie Marshes, an internationally significant wetland 100km north of Warren.

"The Macquarie Marshes are just a lovely place, a natural place, a beautiful place."

"It is important they are protected."

"I've camped out in the marshes for five days at a time, helping National Parks and Wildlife to identify the local animal life and the threats they face such as foxes."

As a Wailwan man, George has proudly volunteered to protect his culture, overseeing the return of two carved trees to the care of the LALC.

Carved trees, many distinguished by unique geometrical designs, are traditional grave and ceremonial ground markers.

"I travelled twice to Melbourne to get the trees returned after Merv Sutherland of National Parks traced them to a museum."

"The trees are very important to our culture and it was essential they came back to country."

Sadly, the bush that George loves so much is under threat from the drought and water mismanagement.

"Beemunnel Creek is dry as a bone and the Macquarie River is low as well."

"Burrendong Dam is down to 6% and they reckon it will be dry if there isn't decent rain before the end of the year."

No doubt George will continue to volunteer in his community to help the bush to thrive once more.