The last of a long line of indigenous police trackers, who used their skills to hunt criminals and missing people in remote areas, is retiring.
Australia’s last indigenous police tracker is retiring after more than three decades of service in far north Queensland.
Barry Port is the last of a long line of Aboriginal men famed for using their bush tracking skills to hunt down criminals and search for people missing in remote areas.
“I look for footprints, broken trees or a camp fire or something like that,” the quietly spoken 71-year-old Lama Lama clan elder told AAP.
Mr Port, who was born and raised in far north Queensland, took up his posting in 1981 in the small town of Coen in Cape York.
In 1997, he tracked down two teenage New Zealand stowaways and a Malaysian sailor after they jumped ship off Cape York and swam ashore.
He received a citation for his work in 1984 after he and partner George Musgrave tracked a stolen car over rough terrain for 22 kilometres and found a 3500-plant cannabis crop.
In the past few years, Mr Port’s work with the police has involved helping with car crash investigations.
Mr Port learnt his bush skills from his father, Garvey, who taught him how to track stray cattle on stations.
He is hopeful his story will inspire young indigenous people to join the police.
Mr Port was given a send-off at the pub in Coen this week, and he will officially retire on Friday.
Coen police officer-in-charge Sergeant Matt Moloney described Mr Port as a living legend whose work went far beyond tracking.
“He’s a real link between cultures,” he told well-wishers at the Coen hotel on Wednesday night.
“His powers of observation were utilised right up until the end of his service.”
Police Minister Jack Dempsey paid tribute to Mr Port, saying he had set a high standard for other police liaison officers.
While Mr Port is the last person to be employed by police as a tracker, other liaison officers have these skills and continue to use them.