Toki William Simon was a Biripi man born in Forster, NSW in 1915.1 When he was young, Toki worked with his family to craft cabbage tree furniture at Forster.2 He also played rugby league for Cape Hawke being regularly identified as one of the team’s best players.3 In 1939 Toki married Joyce Dungay from Taree.4
World War II interrupted life and in 1941 Toki joined up to serve. He was deployed overseas serving in the Middle East, Ceylon and New Guinea.5
Toki reportedly took five bullets during combat but kept returning to the front line to finish the job. He was also a ‘Rat of Tobruk’.6
On his return to civilian life, Toki once again took up playing league and was mentioned weekly in the newspapers for his prowess. One article stated “Besides his football ability, he is a very pleasant fellow, always obliging and attacks and defends in a game with that perpetual smile on his face”.7
In 2012, a ceremony was held at Tobwabba where Toki’s wife Joyce was a special guest. She unveiled a memorial plaque honouring the Aboriginal men of Forster-Tuncurry who served in conflicts including her husband Toki and son Victor.8
Author: Janine Roberts
Website ‘Our Aboriginal Diggers‘.
Photos and personal items of Toki Simon and his family can be viewed at Tuncurry Museum, 1 Capel Street, Tuncurry. Includes a letter from his son Vic to his mother from war, and cabbage tree chairs crafted by the Simon family.
1 NAA: B883, NX71222; Serving Country, http://pandora.nla.gov.au/pan/155532/20151125-0733/servingcountry.com.au/portfolio/vic-simon/index.html
2 Tuncurry Museum and Wingham Museum.
3 Various newspaper articles, Digitised newspapers and more, NLA, https://trove.nla.gov.au
4 NSW BDM, 15774/1939.
5 NAA: B883, NX71222.
6 Serving Country, http://pandora.nla.gov.au/pan/155532/20151125-0733/servingcountry.com.au/portfolio/vic-simon/index.html.
7 Northern Champion,15 July 1950.
8 Manning Great Lakes Focus, Issue 70, http://manninggreatlakes.focusmag.com.au/tobwabba-a-very-moving-day/