Ralph De Lacey was born in Home Hill, a small but thriving North Queensland sugar
town in 1946. He grew up on a small crop farm at Gumlu forty kilometres further
south. The family of nine walked off this farm penniless when Ralph was sixteen.
The story of life on a struggling small crop farm in the late 1950’s is
told in Ralph’s first book simply titled ‘Gumlu’.
After Gumlu he got work on tomato farms at Bowen then drifted into the itinerant fruit pickers life for several years and followed the picking seasons around the eastern States of Australia. During this period he worked at many jobs including, six months on the Snowy Mountains Scheme at Tumut, a stint shearing at Echuca and a few months as a door-to-door encyclopaedia salesman in Sydney.
Finding the contract pickers life too erratic he obtained a steady wage job in the Townsville Regional Electricity Board in 1966 and qualified as an Electric Linesman in 1969.
That same year he left the wages job and became a self-employed professional fisherman starting off with a four metre open boat and a sheet of home made net. His first trawler was salvaged from a sunken wreck in 1972 and it took him nine hard years to reach a stage were he built a specialist Barramundi fishing boat. From 1976 to 1988 he was the top Barramundi producer in the Gulf of Carpentaria.
In 1989 he began to phase out of fishing and into gold mining and by 1991 this transition was complete.
The Small Miner and Native Title is about his mining experience and the devastating impact that native title had on the mining industry following the High Court Wik decision in 1996.