A heated family battle over the final resting place of a popular rodeo announcer, who died suddenly at age 28, has ended in the Supreme Court.
A heated family battle over the final resting place of a popular rodeo announcer, who died suddenly at age 28, has ended in the Supreme Court.

Sad twist after death of popular rodeo identity

A SUPREME Court judge was forced to decide where a popular rodeo announcer would be buried after his shock death at 28 when family infighting got so bad his mum was assaulted.

Walter Baker tragically suffered a heart attack and died while attending the Burke and Wills Rodeo at Cloncurry in September last year.

Tributes poured in for the well-known caller with the big smile who was remembered as "an amazing legend of the Gulf", with a permanent memorial erected at the Normanton rodeo grounds.

Tributes flooded in for talented Far North rodeo announcer and all-round larrikin, Walter Baker who tragically died last year. Picture: Facebook
Tributes flooded in for talented Far North rodeo announcer and all-round larrikin, Walter Baker who tragically died last year. Picture: Facebook


But according to court documents, a dispute broke out between family members in the aftermath of his death with his mother Jenifer Accoom wanting him buried in Mareeba and aunt Nerissa Pickering arguing his remains should go to Croydon.

Mr Baker had cultural and family ties to both towns.

Justice Jim Henry handed down a decision in early December supporting his mother's application, but also ordering for her to pay for the funeral.

In his decision Justice Henry said one of the considerations was that Ms Accoom had been "personally targeted" by requesting a Mareeba burial.

He said this included "irrelevant but harsh personal criticisms" of her and also that she was allegedly assaulted by a member of her husband's family at a Mareeba supermarket after a family meeting in October last year.

Normanton Rodeo Association has unveiled a memorial for well-known Far North rodeo announcer, Walter Baker. Pictured are Mr Baker’s close friends Terry Nimble (Teo), Geoff Hay and Jemma Hunt. Picture: Sarah Alice Martin
Normanton Rodeo Association has unveiled a memorial for well-known Far North rodeo announcer, Walter Baker. Pictured are Mr Baker’s close friends Terry Nimble (Teo), Geoff Hay and Jemma Hunt. Picture: Sarah Alice Martin

She told the court she also held concerns for her safety if she was forced to travel to Croydon, likely alone, for a funeral.

"It is scarcely surprising Ms Accoom holds such safety concerns," Justice Henry said.

"While Ms Pickering's counsel submitted those concerns were ill founded, the tone of the personalised criticism of her … is less than reassuring."

The court heard he lived in both towns growing up, but did predominantly all his schooling in Mareeba before moving to Croydon after school to pursue his rodeo career.

Justice Henry said it was "unfortunate" the families could not reach a private resolution.

"Sadly, it is inevitable that the decision I have been left to make will cause added pain to some at a time at which they are grieving," he said.

"In the end result, while Croydon has been the deceased's home for significant parts of his life, his cultural connections with its lands were not … so exclusive or so compelling as to trump the mix of other considerations, including practical considerations … trending in favour of a burial at Mareeba."

Originally published as New sad twist after death of popular FNQ rodeo identity


Junior citizen of the year turns negatives into positives

Premium Content Junior citizen of the year turns negatives into positives

From kicking goals on the football field to raising money for the Cancer Council...

Deb Frecklington demands answers over new hospital flooding

Premium Content Deb Frecklington demands answers over new hospital flooding

Reports major flooding occurred at Kingaroy’s brand new hospital facility have led...

Car fire, theft makes for busy Aus Day for Kingaroy cops

Premium Content Car fire, theft makes for busy Aus Day for Kingaroy cops

From a vehicle fire to a stolen car, this is what Kingaroy police dealt with on...