Grazier’s unbelievable $10m act of charity
WHEN Cape York grazier Geoff Carrick gifted his entire fortune to charity, few in his tiny outback home town of Etheridge knew of his vast wealth.
The 73-year-old bushman, who is believed to have died of a snake bite, left $9.85million in his will to the Royal Flying Doctor Service and Children's Hospital Foundation.
It was the single biggest private donation in the history of the RFDS - and ranks him among the state's most generous benefactors.
"He lived a frugal life,'' close friend and executor of his will Jim Geaney said, from the front bar of the Etheridge Hotel yesterday.
"To look at him, you wouldn't think he had two bob to rub together."
Single with no children, the three loves of his life were beef cattle, fishing and giving to charity.
He slept on threadbare sheets, wore the same tattered pants from his school days; had no fan, aircon, or TV, and his only holiday was to go fishing up on the Cape.
His small luxury was a hot can of coke at the end of a hard day's work.
Yesterday was the inaugural flight of the Geoffrey Carrick, one of four new RFDS KingAir aircraft named in his honour, bought with the proceeds of the sale of his 130 square-kilometre property Maitland Station, six hours drive west of Cairns.
Fittingly, it was to a bush clinic in Etheridge, population 12.
"Geoff was one-in-a-million,'' lifelong friend Gus French, of Mount Hogan Station, said.
"Or, in this case, one in almost 10 million.
"He was a humble, everyday bloke and a thorough country gentleman. He was much loved by us all.
"His great legacy is to keep the RFDS flying, they are a lifeline in the bush, and in the wet season our only contact with the outside world.
"Without them we could get in big strife.''
Mr Carrick's death certificate lists his cause of death in June last year as "unknown", despite an autopsy.
But when his body was found on the floor of his kitchen, he had two puncture wounds above the ankle, possibly from a snake bite.
Heather Stott, of the RFDS, said the bequest was "an extraordinary gift" to both the aeromedical organisation and Children's Hospital in Brisbane.
"These new planes will allow us to fly faster, higher and with pressurisation meaning less fatigue on our pilots and medics,'' she said.
"Their primary job will be to run our clinics around remote parts of the state and they will also provide backup for our aeromedical aircraft which retrieve patients in emergencies.''