This is an obituary for Charles Ronald Ball (Ron Ball) who passed away on the weekend. It was written by his daughter Liz Martin and republished here with her kind permission.
R.I.P. RON BALL (Charles Ronald Ball).
It is with sadness I report that my Dad, Ron Ball, passed away peacefully in Katherine NT earlier today. Dad was a real character of the Territory; a bloke from the bush who loomed large in the lives of many. A few years ago I ran into an old aboriginal woman who told me “He’s a tough old bastard that Ronny Ball”. I smiled, she was so right. She inspired me to write this poem. Ronny Ball was our Dad and we loved him and he will never be forgotten. My thoughts and love are with his beautiful wife Kathleen and my six siblings.
Vale Ron Ball.
Buck jumper, horse breaker, cattle drover, stockman, snake catcher, buffalo shooter, wild boar hunter, crocodile wrestler, barramundi poacher, meat inspector and finally, tour guide.
For Dad, it was a never ending story of bulldust, mud, blood and buffalo guts. It was life in the fast lane but in an outback context. He was forever looking for that next exciting ride!
He was bucked by horses, charged by wounded buffalo, gored in the groin by an old scrub bull, been bitten by snakes and suffered the indignity of leeches on his dangly things.
He’s been everywhere in the Territory Man!
From Marrakai to Melville Island and Manyallaluk, from Top Springs, Beatrice Hill, Darwin and Katherine, to the Desert Block and Alice Springs.
He was a tough old bastard that Ronny Ball.
To him life was one big challenge that he loved to beat into submission.
He sailed his yachts, he shot his guns and raced his cars. He loved his EH Holdens … and then, he wrote books. He worked bloody hard. If you couldn’t keep up you didn’t count. He didn’t suffer fools easily and was known as much for his fiery bad temper as he was for his rustic good looks.
There was a time he’d rather have a fight than a feed. He’d argue the point, swing a punch, and wrestle, scuffle, bash and thrash a few worthy adversaries around the flat.
A couple of scrub bashed, shiny skinned hot tinnies salvaged from the back of the ute or a well worn pannican of ‘corrugated’ rum mixed with powdered milk could cause that. He was a tough old bastard that Ronny Ball. He taught from the school of hard knocks.
He wanted his pound of flesh and we gave it and then gave more. He was a hard task master.
We learned the world was far from fair. But he gave us strength to buck the system, the stubbornness and determination to never give up and the hide and audacity to say ‘fuck you’ to any one, any time, any where.
He was the Wild Man from Wildboar, a crack shot buffalo hunter and meat producer; defined by his cut off Toyota, dusty old Akubra, trusted 308 rifle and busted arse swag.
He fed us buffalo meat, barramundi, mud crabs, mussels and forbidden feasts like Burdekin duck stew and coal cooked wild scrub turkey.
He could put together a pretty good tucker bag.
He was a tough old bastard that Ronny Ball, but he was our Dad and we will always love him.
Ron Ball will be farewelled by an informal service at the Katherine Council Chambers at 2pm on 11 November 2017 followed by a drink at the Katherine Hotel.
You can hear more of Ron Ball’s story in his own words here at the Godinymayin Yijard Rivers Arts and Culture Centre’s Unique Katherine region stories page. There is a fascinating 2004 report from The Telegraph (UK) that reckons Ron Ball was “the real Crocodile Dundee” and of course—if you can find a copy— you can read Ron’s book A Pom in the Outback, published by Banksia Books in 2002.