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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website contains names, images, and voices of deceased persons.

In addition, some articles contain terms or views that were acceptable within mainstream Australian culture in the period in which they were written, but may no longer be considered appropriate.

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Wayne King (1948–)

PUBLICATION: Wayne KingBlack Hours, Angus and Robertson, 1996, Sydney

SEX: Male


BIRTH PLACE: Ipswich, Queensland



  • Ipswich: Wayne was born in a house without electricity or running water in the Ipswich suburb of Churchill. The King Family relocated to a new suburb, Dinmore, when he was four years old. (p.4) Their Dinmore home had modern facilities, but was too small for a family of sixteen. (p.1)
  • From an early age, Wayne longed to leave his family home and the small town of Ipswich. (p.1)
  • Wayne left Ipswich for Brisbane in his late teens, and didn’t return until his father’s funeral much later in life. (p.115)
  • Mitchell: Wayne spent his childhood holidays camping at Yumba: an Aboriginal campsite near Mitchell in South-Western Queensland. (p.17) He recounts the long journey to Mitchell every year, and the beauty of the surrounding landscape. (pp.19-22)
  • Brisbane: With the help of the Aboriginal welfare organisation, OPAL, Wayne left Ipswich to take up a job in Brisbane as a teenager. (p.44)
  • Canberra: In 1966, when he was eighteen years old, OPAL assisted Wayne to take up a job as a telex operator at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Canberra. (p.59) He thought it a beautiful city, and enjoyed his time there. (p.60)
  • Sydney: Wayne moved to the Sydney suburb of Paddington with his friend Gary in the late 1960s. The two enjoyed frequenting gar bars in Bondi, and meeting other homosexuals.
  • Wayne left Sydney for New York in 1970 and didn’t return until 1975, when he rented a bed-sit in Elizabeth Bay. (p.121) He still felt like an outcast because of his Aboriginality, and after six months working two jobs in Sydney, in March 1976 he returned to New York indefinitely. (p.125)
  • When he started to suffer from terrifying nightmares while living in Egypt, one of Wayne’s friends suggested he return to Australia. He was very reluctant to do so, as he associated his home country with exclusion and racial discrimination. (p.151)


  • New York: Wayne moved to New York in 1971 to take up as position as a typist for the United Nations. (p. 93) He loved New York’s cosmopolitanism, and enjoyed exploring the seedy side of the city, where he was able to access erotic books and films that were banned in Australia. (p.95)
  • Wayne left New York and spent two years working in Bangladesh. At the end of his placement, he was glad to return to the busy city. (p.112) He returned to Sydney soon after, but after only six months he was drawn back to New York, which was were he felt most at home. (p.126)
  • East Pakistan (Bangladesh): Wayne travelled to Bangladesh to take up a position as a typist for the United Nations. (p.101) There was fighting between the Bengali liberation movement and the Pakistani forces at that time, and he had to be evacuated to Bangkok. (p.101) Wayne worked in Bangladesh for two years, and spent his holidays touring Asia. (p.112)
  • Thailand: Wayne and the other United Nations staff were evacuated to Bangkok during the Bengali war of independence. (p.107) He learnt to love Thai food and took advantage of the ample supply of cheap male prostitutes. (p.108)
  • India, Nepal, Thailand, Hong Kong and Japan: Wayne visited a number of countries in Asia while on leave from the United Nations in Bangladesh. (pp.11-112) When he returned to Ipswich for his father’s funeral, he discovered his travels had earned him a “celebrity status” in the Aboriginal community. (p.117)
  • Egypt: Wayne’s work with the UN took him to the Egyptian city of Ismailia in 1976. (p.126) Having read about the pyramids as a child, he looked forward to the posting. (p.127) Unlike the other international staff, who took their weekends in Israel, Wayne explored Egypt with his friend Alfredo and found the nationals to be generous and welcoming. (p.132)
  • Israel: Wayne was relocated to Israel in 1979. (p.143) He didn’t enjoy living in the conflict-ridden country, and considered resigning from the UN. (p.143)


  • Wayne was very close in age to his brothers Trevor, Christopher and Steven. (p.37) While they enjoyed school and excelled, he struggled. (p.37)
  • Wayne not only lagged in the classroom, he had trouble making friends with the others boys because he wasn’t a “'man’s man'”. (p.38) He was considered a “sissie” because he opted to study shorthand, typing and bookkeeping, rather than carpentry and technical drawing. (p.42)
  • Wayne’s dislike of school increased in high school, when he was forced to memorise a Eurocentric account of Australian history. (p.39)
  • Wayne’s mother forced him to stay in school until he was fourteen. (p.39) He later discovered that this was because Aboriginals were prevented from attending high school when she was young. (p.39)
  • Unlike his mother, Wayne didn’t believe formal education benefited Aboriginal people. (p.43)
  • Wayne struggled in school and was glad to leave after two years. (p.43) He was considered a “sissie” because he opted to study shorthand, typing and bookkeeping rather than carpentry and technical drawing, but it was these skills that helped him to secure work. (p.42)
  • Wayne matriculated in 1970 at East Sydney Technical College. (p.106) He was still dispirited by Australian prejudice at that time, and it wasn’t until he moved to New York that Wayne believed in the potential of education. (p.98)
  • Wayne developed a love of English literature while living in Bangladesh. (p.107) He also took up French lessons, as his colleagues at the UN were all bilingual. (p.109) During his leave from Egypt, he did a French course in Villefrance-sur-Mer. (p.137) Wayne also considered international travel to be a form of life long learning (p.111)


  • Wayne and his siblings did housework from an early age. (p.3) His least favourite task was burying sanitary waste in the back garden. (p.2) The King children were also forced to scavenge for glass bottles when their father spent his earnings drinking. (p.6) The burden of these chores contributed to Wayne’s desire to leave Ipswich. (p.3)
  • With the assistance of the Aboriginal welfare organisation, OPAL, Wayne found his first job as a clerical assistant at the Queensland Department of Main Roads. (p.44)
  • In 1966, OPAL helped Wayne to transfer to a position as a telex operator for the Department of Foreign Affairs in Canberra. (p.59) Wayne was able to work overtime, because department was short-staffed, and enjoyed having an expendable income. (p.69)
  • In 1971 Wayne accepted work as a conference typist for the United Nations in New York. (p.93)
  • While he enjoyed the job, Wayne was disappointed to discover that Australians were paid significantly less than other international staff at the UN. (p.99)
  • When Wayne complained about this discrimination, he was offered a better-paid posting to Bangladesh. (p.100) He was left without work for his first few months in Dhakar, because the UN Headquarters was not prepared for his arrival. (p.100)
  • Wayne was sent to work as a receptionist for the UN in Thailand during the Bengali war of independence. (pp.108-110) When he returned to Dhakar, he was employed as a secretary for the Chief of Mission. (p.111)
  • Wayne was paid extremely well in Bangladesh, because it was considered a hardship posting. He used his earnings to travel around Asia. Wayne returned to New York after two years, but soon became restless and resigned from the UN in 1975. (p.119)
  • Having returned to Sydney, Wayne worked from 5am to 1pm as a telex operator in the ABC newsroom. (p.122) He took a second job as a typist for the Court Reporting Service. (p.122) After six months working two jobs, Wayne returned to New York. (p.125)
  • Wayne was offered his old job at the UN when he returned to America. (p.126) In 1976 he was sent to the Egyptian city of Ismailia, as the secretary to the Chief Procurement Officer. (p.130) He was later offered a short-term position in Cairo, and was paid fifty-three US dollars a day. (p.137) This wage enabled him to buy expensive clothing in New York and to enrol in a one-month French course in Villefrance-sur-Mer. (p.137)
  • After returning to Egypt, Wayne was transferred to Israel and then onwards to Syria. By this time his work at the UN had begun to suffer because of his terrifying nightmares. On one occasion, Wayne was forced to flee from Syria to see a psychiatrist in Beirut. When he returned, he was reprimanded and sent back to New York. (p.151)
  • Wayne arrived in New York to find there was no job waiting for him. After using his savings to travel around the world, Wayne returned to Sydney in the hopes of working two jobs and earning enough to move to Europe. (p.153) He began the morning shift as a telex operator for the ABC, but was unable to find a second source of employment. (p.155)
  • Wayne found part time work for a chartered accountant with the help of a Sydney employment service. (p.155) His passion for writing consumed his thoughts for a long time before he began to write his autobiography. (p.243)


  • Wayne attended the Assemblies of God Church for a year when he was sixteen. He hoped religion would provide the consolation he was seeking from a romantic partner. (p.88)
  • While he enjoyed the sermons, Wayne didn’t find solace in the church. (p.88) He remembers that the Pastor called for homosexuals to confess and be cured, but at the time he didn’t know what homosexuality was. (p.89)
  • Wayne later abandoned organised religion altogether, as he believed it had little to offer Aboriginal people. (p.142) This lack of faith troubled him when he was suffering from terrifying nightmares. (p.144)
  • Wayne rediscovered Christianity when he began attending Alcoholics Anonymous as an adult. (p.232)


  • One People of Australia League (OPAL): A welfare organisation established to assist Aboriginal people, who helped Wayne to find his first job. (p.44) As Wayne’s political awareness increased, he became more critical of OPAL’s approach. (p.57)
  • Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines Torres Strait Islanders (FCAATSI): Wayne’s friend Barry Ellis was involved in FCAATSI in the late sixties. He notes that FCAATSI played an important role in inducing the 1967 Referendum. (p.72)
  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA): Wayne began to attend AA while living in Sydney. He was sceptical of the organisation at first, because of its religious affiliation, but came to learn a lot about himself from the stories of other alcoholics. (p.231)
  • Through his AA meetings, Wayne also learnt to live in the moment more, and not to let racism hurt his self-image. (p.238)


  • Wayne describes the political activism around the 1967 Constitutional Referendum. He believes that the Referendum awarded Aboriginal people Australian citizenship. (p.72)


  • While living in Bangladesh, Wayne had a terrifying nightmare and heard voices coaxing him to kill himself. (pp.139-141) Seven year later, while living in Egypt, he began to have the same nightmare repeatedly. (p.141) Wayne was using recreational drugs by that time, such as alcohol and acid, but he doesn’t believe the two phenomena were related. (p.139)
  • Wayne’s friend Alberto suggested that low self-esteem and unresolved childhood issues were the source of his suffering. He suggested seeing a psychiatrist, but there were none available in Egypt. (p.141)
  • Wayne hoped alcohol would dull the nightmare, and began to drink heavily (p.143) He intentionally avoided living near other international staff when he moved to Syria, so no one would witness his drinking. (p.147)
  • The nightmares became worse in Syria, and Alfredo convinced Wayne to see a psychiatrist at the American Hospital in Beirut. (p.147) The psychiatrist agreed with Alberto’s diagnosis: that Wayne’s suffering was related to childhood trauma. (p.150)
  • The drinking and drug taking continued for many years, but Wayne was able to hide his self-destructive behaviour from others. (p.161)
  • Eventually, he conceded that he had a problem with alcohol, and began attending Alcoholics Anonymous. (p.228)
  • Initially Wayne was sceptical of the meetings, because they were held in a church hall. He soon came around to the AA way of thinking about the relationship between religion and drug abuse. (pp.229-230)
  • Wayne became a regular at AA meetings, and learned how to cope with his anguish from the stories of other alcoholics. (p.231)


  • Mother: Wayne learned about his mother’s personal history while researching his autobiography. (p.167) After some coaxing, she told him that she was born at Toorbul Point in the 1930s. (p.168) She and her siblings lived a long way from the nearest school, so their mother taught her and her siblings to read at home. (p.170)
  • Wayne’s grandfather (mother’s father) was an abusive alcoholic, and on one occasion his grandmother was forced to call the police. (p.172) When they arrived, the police learned that the children weren’t attending school, and took them to the Purga mission outside Ipswich. (p.167) Mum originally thought she was on holidays, and was shattered when the reality became apparent. (p.180)
  • At Purga Mission, Mum was separated from her siblings and sent to the girl’s dormitory. She was forced to adapt to the regimented mission lifestyle, and had all her hair cut off to stop head lice. (pp.186-188) Mum enjoyed school at the mission, and had an excellent teacher, but was lonely and unhappy in the dorms. (pp.192-193)
  • Mum left Purga mission at fourteen to work as a domestic in Dalby and then Boonah. (p.199) In 1939 she married Aubrey King, who was also from Purga Mission, and together they moved to Ipswich. (p.215)
  • When Mum first met Aubrey, he was a charming twenty-one-year old. Only with time did be become the abusive alcoholic that Wayne knew. (p.207)
  • Mum taught her children to respect their father, even when he was behaving selfishly or irrationally. (p.16)
  • Wayne remembers one occasion, however, when his mother put a belt around Aubrey’s neck and dragged him up the stairs because he had left the family without food. (p.12)
  • Aubrey King: Aubrey grew up at the Purga mission with his Aunt Beatrice and Uncle Bill. (p.203) His mother had left him and his siblings in their care when he was four, when she married a man who didn’t want children. (p.204) Mum believes that this early abandonment was the source of Aubrey’s hostility to women. (p.204)
  • Wayne felt neglected by his father from a very young age. He remembers rushing out to greet Aubrey as he arrived home from Bundaberg, where he worked as an examiner with Queensland Railways, and his father walking straight past him. (p.13) Wayne also recalls Aubrey giving everyone but him a shilling (p.14) and refusing to give him the money to buy a school badge. (p.64)
  • Their relationship became worse when Aubrey lost his leg in a workplace injury at the age of 35. (p.5) While he was able to keep his hobbies of gardening, fishing and playing the guitar in a country and western band, Aubrey lost his sustaining passion – sport. (p.6) Wayne believes the accident turned his father into an alcoholic who was aggressive towards his family. (p.12)
  • While he continued to work for the Queensland Railways as a clerk, Aubrey spent most of his income on alcohol. This was the source of a lot of fights in the King household, which strengthened Wayne’s desire to leave Ipswich. (p.3)
  • Wayne was unperturbed when learnt of his father’s death at the age of fifty-six. (p.112) He was living in New York at the time, and was only compelled to return to Australia for the funeral out of concern for his mother. (p.113)
  • It was only when he learnt his mother’s life story that Wayne came to understand and sympathise with his father. (p.236)


  • Gary: a fellow Queenslander, that Wayne met while working in Canberra. (p.62) Gary was much more experienced and cosmopolitan than Wayne, and he taught him a great deal about his homosexuality and the world. (p.62)
  • Gary empathised with Wayne’s suffering, because he too was a homosexual with an abusive father. (p.64)
  • Gary tried to initiate a sexual relationship, but, while Wayne was flattered, he was fearful of being physically involved. (p.62)
  • Despite the consolation that Gary provided, Wayne was still lonely without a sexual partner. (p.87)
  • Wayne found it difficult to find a partner because he was Aboriginal and slightly overweight. (p.88) He recalls being rejected at a gay beat near Hyde Park, when he told the potential partner of his ethnicity. (p.89)
  • Because he was unsuccessful with men in Australia, Wayne had no qualms purchasing sex in Thailand. (p.108)


  • N/A


  • Uncle Bill: Wayne was born in a house in Churchill apparently owned by Uncle Bill and his father. When Wayne’s father Aubrey was in hospital after his workplace accident, Bill sold the house and the King family were homeless. (p.7) Wayne and his siblings lived with Uncle Bill until his father returned, and the two brothers got in a brawl about the house. (p.8)
  • Auntie Nell and Uncle Vince: Wayne’s aunt and uncle lived in Churchill, Ipswich. On one occasion, when their father didn’t return home, Wayne and his siblings were forced to walk to their house in search of food. (p.8)
  • Annie Jones and Uncle Alf: Auntie Annie was Wayne’s mother’s cousin, who lived at Yumba in South-West Queensland with her husband Uncle Alf. (p.17) Alf was a heavy drinker, but unlike Aubrey was a jovial drunk. (p.31)
  • The King family stayed with Uncle Alf and Auntie Alice over Christmas, and Wayne enjoyed the break from his stressful home life in Ipswich. (p.27)
  • Uncle Jack: Uncle Jack used to take Wayne echidna hunting and share his droving stories when they camped at Yumba over Christmas. (p.26, 33) Wayne recalls that Uncle Jack’s employer prevented him from undertaking initiation, by threatening him with a stockwhip, and sent him into a violent storm on his first droving trip. (pp.26-27)
  • Trevor King: Trevor was Wayne’s older brother, who was confident, intelligent and popular. (p.37)
  •  Compared to Wayne, Trevor had very pale skin, and often denied his Aboriginality. (p.37)
  • Pam King: Wayne’s older sister Pam wanted to go to high school, however, because she was a female, her father persuaded her to find work instead. (p.42)
  • When Wayne missed out on getting a new jacket, Pam bought him one with her own earnings. (p.42)
  • Barry and Barbara Ellis: Barry was one of Wayne’s friends, originally from Townsville. (p.46) Wayne claims Barry was part of the “new breed” of Aboriginal activists, and often challenged the view of the more conservative older generation. (p.50)
  • Barry shared a house with Wayne in Paddington, and was then involved with FCAATSI. (p.72) Wayne believes Barry and Barbara shared his ambivalence about his Aboriginality, but they didn’t discuss it. (p.76)
  • Garry Moore: Garry was an Aboriginal activist who Wayne associated with in Sydney in the late 1960s. Wayne recalls that Garry debated the Mayor of Sydney Asher Joel on the subject of racism. (p.78)
  • Ronnie: Ronnie was a friend of Barrie’s, who grew up in a mission in Sydney. (p.85) He had a university degree, spoke three languages, and, like Wayne, he was a homosexual. (p.84)
  • Alfredo: Alfredo was an Argentinian national, who work with Wayne at the UN in Egypt. (p.131) They became friends because they were the only homosexuals in their division. (p.131) Alfredo was well educated and had a broad range of interests, and he acted as Wayne’s guide in Egypt. (p.131)
  • Wayne became very dependent on Alfredo’s friendship, particularly when he started suffering from nightmares. When Alfredo returned to Argentina, Wayne also decided to leave Egypt for New York. (p.143)


  • Aboriginal culture: Wayne described the role of initiation ceremonies in traditional Aboriginal society. (p.26)
  • Colonial history: Wayne retells the stories of the sixty-year-old stockmen he met at the Yumba campsite. Many were removed from their families at a very young age and forced to work on stations owned by white pastoralists. (p.25) Wayne points out that Aboriginal people were powerless at this time, because they lived a long way from the Office of the Chief Protector of Aborigines and were illiterate. (p.26)
  • Racial discrimination: Wayne recounts the discrimination he and his siblings suffered from a young age because of their ethnicity and circumstances.
  • Unlike some of his siblings, Wayne was unable to deny his Aboriginal identity because of his dark skin. (p.38)
  • While Wayne did not encounter legal discrimination during his lifetime, he believed that many avenues for advancement were still closed to Aboriginal people. (p.43) He points out that white Australians often supported the African American civil rights campaigns, without realising that this discrimination existed in Australia. (p.44)
  • Wayne claims that Aboriginal activist Charles Perkins exposed this reality by emulating the American ‘freedom rides’ in a tour of racist rural towns in New South Wales. (p.47)
  • Wayne believed the American civil rights movement divided the Aboriginal political community, and gave rise to a new generation of activists. (p.45) At the time, however, he had no interest in being part of this movement.
  • With Barry’s encouragement, however, Wayne’s political awareness grew. He became increasingly critical of the pre-1970s approach to Aboriginal advancement, embodied in the OPAL organisation, and was drawn to the new politics that attacked covert and legislative discrimination. (pp.57-58)
  • Wayne and his political allies often compared the situations of Aboriginal Australians to other oppressed people. While many were drawn to the American Black Power movement, he felt more akin to the other Indigenous groups, such as the American Indians. (p.79)
  • When Wayne moved to New York in the early 1970s, he relished in the freedom from racism that the cosmopolitan city offered. (p.89)
  • When he returned to Australia, Wayne was more willing to challenge racism directly. He recalls dismissing a colleague at the Court Report Services, who announced her dislike of Aboriginals. (p.123)
  • In the process of writing his autobiography, Wayne encouraged his mother to share her life story for the first time. He learnt that she had been taken from her mother and forced to abide by arbitrary rules her entire life. (pp.195-220) Her narrative put his life in perspective, and helped lessen his suffering. (p.221)
  • Mum’s story of exclusion and denigration also provided Wayne with some explanation for his own feelings. (p.221)
  • Sexuality: Wayne's homosexuality compounded the exclusion he suffered because of his ethnicity. He had difficulties fitting into Aboriginal society because he was gay, and difficulty fitting into gay society because he was Aboriginal.
  • Wayne recalls being humiliated when a gay friend retold a racist joke. (p.75)
  • Wayne also retells an incident when his friend Barry claimed that homophobic attacks where motivated by gay men’s flamboyant dress. (p.81)

MODE OF LITERARY PRODUCTION: Written by the Wayne King.

Additional Resources

Source Project

This biographical entry was contributed by Australian Indigenous Autobiography Archive

Citation details

'King, Wayne (1948–)', Indigenous Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 28 May 2024.

© Copyright Indigenous Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


Ipswich, Queensland, Australia

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.