Search the Collection
Advanced Search

Billy Thomas

Circa 1920-2012

Skin group: Jungurrayi

Billy Thomas was born south of Bililuna Station in the Great Sandy Desert, Western Australia. As a young man Thomas worked as a stockman and drover along the Canning Stock Route. During this time he was part of a well-known droving team led by Wally Dowling that worked along the Canning Stock Route. This droving team included other stockman who like Thomas would also find fame through painting in later years.

Thomas began to work as a Police Tracker after moving to Derby during WWII. During this time he was based in Kalumburu and Halls Creek. During one incident at Roogoony (Crocodile Creek), near Turkey Creek he was shot in the leg and from then on walked with a limp. After Thomas left the Police service he resumed work as a stockman and drover before eventually retiring to Mud Springs Aboriginal Community near Kununurra.

And it was there in 1995 that Thomas began painting. The following year his work was exhibited in the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award in Darwin and he would be a finalist in the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award competition every year from 1996 to 2000.

Thomas’ work was exhibited in both solo and group exhibitions and his works are in many public and private collections national and international.