Reys Park in White Rock Named After Local Family: Plant A Tree and Celebrate Community!
The Reys family is one of the most high profile families from White Rock and a family readily associated with this suburb. Most widely known, Frank Reys, the eldest brother of a family consisting of 9 boys and 7 girls, was born in 1931 and began horse racing in the far north at an early age winning his first race in 1948. He was the first Australian Aboriginal jockey to win the prestigious Melbourne Cup in 1973 riding to victory on “Gala Supreme” and becoming a legend in the horse racing industry, placing Cairns on the Map of Australasian horse racing history and to date not emulated.
Frank’s brother, Fred Reys, was the second oldest brother of the family. He worked in a number of jobs in the Far North including cane cutting, plant operator at ACF and Shirley’s and with the Mulgrave Shire in Parks and Gardens; Fred Reys married Mona, a Gimuy Yidindji woman, born at White Rock and raised at Wrights Creek/Edmonton and has lived in the White Rock area for the majority of her life. Mona had also worked at the Gordonvale Hospital for just over 17 years as an assistant in nursing and as the domestic supervisor;
Ken Reys, son of Fred and Mona is an elder of the Gimuy Yidindji Aboriginal Clan of Cairns and gives ‘Welcome to Country’ speeches on behalf of the Traditional Owners and custodians of the land. Ken was a senior commonwealth public servant of 24 years (13 years in Canberra and 11 years in Cairns and Townsville), and is a former General Manager of Bumma Bippera Media in Cairns and Chairperson of the national indigenous media association, AICA, and currently sits as Deputy Chair of the Board of National Indigenous Television Ltd (NITV) and Deputy Chair of the Alluna Land Trust, Cairns;
Frank’s brother, Eric, also worked in many organisations within the region, including both community radio stations 98.7FM and 89.1FM and was a driver for the then Prime Minister, Harold Holt;
Karen Reys is the daughter of Frank’s brother, Stephen. She is a talented indigenous artist and her work is recognised throughout Australia. Karen has over twenty years experience working with indigenous programs and organisations. Prior to moving to Perth, Karen lived in White Rock for many years and was an educator of aboriginal art and culture, working in primary schools, private and government organisations, community arts festivals and exhibitions throughout Cairns.
Susan Reys is another daughter of Stephen Reys. Susan grew up in Cairns and is also a very talented painter.
Frank’s daughter Shelley is the first indigenous woman to be Deputy Chair of the Australia Day Council. She is a Director of Reconciliation Australia and the Fred Hollows Foundation.
Other family members have also significantly contributed to the region, including Andy Reys (late), a teacher, Lawrence Reys, who owns and operates a Cairns tiling trade business for over 30 years and Lynette (late) a highly tertiary qualified, skilled nurse and Nurse Educator.
A tree planting event was held at Reys Park in White Rock on Sunday 17th of January.
The event was attended by many of the neighbouring houses as well as many members of the Reys family, whom the park was named after and many of whom still reside in the area.
Following further approaches by local Councillor Rob Pyne, new sub-soil drainage was installed in the park during 2011 and a second (bigger and better) Tree Planting Celebration has been planned for Sunday 4th December 2011.
Cr. Rob says, “Bring the family (and a shovel) to help improve this local park, named in the honour of a great local family.”