Collection: Eric Willmot


Dr Eric Willmot AM was for many years an authority on the life and times of Pemulwuy. He wrote the novel, Pemulwuy: The Rainbow Warrior, which was a landmark publication, a best seller, and has been included in secondary and tertiary education curricula across Australia.

A visionary and a dreamer, a scholar, educator inventor and engineer, Eric was born in Queensland and spent his childhood on an island (Crib Island) which no longer exists. He spent his youth as a drover, working in Queensland, New South Wales, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. At the age of 20, Eric was seriously injured in a rodeo accident and spent a year in hospital. During that period he studied for his matriculation, won a scholarship, and attended the University of Newcastle, where he took his first degree in science.

He became increasingly interested in indigenous education, which he viewed as the most important and intriguing part of Australian education. In 1980, he found that there were less than 100 university graduates of indigenous descent in Australia. Eric is known in Australian Aboriginal society as the main architect of the national education program begun in 1979, which aimed to produce 1000 graduates by 1990. In 1990 that program had produced 1800 graduates and transformed the society significantly.

Eric was also an engineer and prolific inventor. During his lifetime, Eric held over 90 international patents. These covered a range of technology from a continuously variable ratio transmission system to a helical skewer. In 1981 Eric was named Australian Inventor of the Year, and twice won the Medaille d'Or Genève of the Salon des Inventions in Geneva, Switzerland.

He died in 2019.

Eric Willmot