VALE W.J. Peasley 1927–2020

Fremantle Press extends its deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Dr William John Peasley, who passed away on 2 January, just a couple of weeks short of turning 93.

Under the name W.J. Peasley, he wrote six books, including The Last of the Nomads, which was the story of his extraordinary journey in search of Warri and Yatungka, an Aboriginal couple believed to be the last of the Mandildjara tribe of Gibson Desert nomads to live permanently in the traditional way. The book became an internationally best-selling title, was translated into French, Italian and German, and in 1997 was made into a television documentary.

While working as a doctor in Broome, Port Hedland and Carnarvon, W.J. was able to cultivate his strong interest in Indigenous history and became an expedition member on journeys that retraced the footsteps of Australian explorers across the top end. He continued to make desert expeditions well into his 80s. In 2015, W.J. was recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for his significant service to the community as an inland explorer, historian, author and member of the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

His contributions to our community across multiple disciplines were many and he will be sadly missed.

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