Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Charles Leslie Frost (1897–1971)

by V. M. Johnson

This article was published:

Charles Leslie Frost (1897?-1971), Aboriginal leader, was born probably on 22 July 1897 at Peak Hill, New South Wales, son of Charles Frost, labourer, and his wife Jane (Jenny), née Solomon. Of mixed descent, young Charles belonged to the Wiradjuri people. By 1924 he was living at Dubbo and working as a labourer for the Main Roads Board. He was described as 'a tall, thin, erect, laughing' and carefree young man.

On 27 June 1937 Frost opened the public meeting at Dubbo that launched the Aborigines Progressive Association and drew attention to the serious situation of Aboriginal reserves. Having ensured that Aborigines comprised half the membership, the founders set out the objects of the association: to advocate the abolition and reconstruction of the Aborigines Protection Board, to secure improvements in living conditions on the board's reserves, to obtain the repeal of discriminatory legislation, and to achieve the granting of full citizen rights for Aborigines, with direct representation in parliament. In July 1938 the A.P.A. split; the Dubbo section was headed by William Ferguson and the La Perouse section by John Patten. Frost was elected president of the Dubbo association, with George Carr the local secretary and Ferguson the organizing secretary.

By 1950 Frost had moved to Condobolin and lived on the mission station. At the town's Methodist Church on 1 July 1950 he married a widow Marcie Bright, née Briar, who was also of mixed descent; they were to remain childless. In 1953 he was employed as a slaughterman by one of the local butchers, and was regarded as a regular, dependable and willing worker. That year he leased a block of land from the Condobolin Municipal Council and was endeavouring to build a house and to take up market gardening. His plans were delayed by a hernia operation. From 1958, although described as an invalid pensioner, he remained active. He was an eloquent writer, possibly due to his attendance in 1961 and 1964 at the summer school run by the Australian Board of Missions at Tranby Aboriginal Co-operative College. With seemingly endless energy, he applied in 1968 for government assistance to build a boomerang factory. The dream did not eventuate, but he was regarded as a skilled craftsman of Aboriginal ornaments.

Survived by his wife, Frost died on 9 October 1971 at his Condobolin home and was buried with Presbyterian forms in the Methodist section of the local cemetery.

Select Bibliography

  • J. Horner, Vote Ferguson for Aboriginal Freedom (Syd, 1974)
  • D. Horton (ed), The Encyclopaedia of Aboriginal Australia (Canb, 1994)
  • Aborigines Welfare Board, correspondence files, 1945-69 (State Records New South Wales)
  • J. Gordon, taped interview with C. L. Frost, 24-25 Oct 1968 (archive audio tape no 1914, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies).

Citation details

V. M. Johnson, 'Frost, Charles Leslie (1897–1971)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1996, accessed online 24 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (Melbourne University Press), 1996

View the front pages for Volume 14

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


22 July, 1897
Peak Hill, New South Wales, Australia


9 October, 1971 (aged 74)
Condobolin, New South Wales, Australia

Cultural Heritage

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