Australian Geographic

THE HERMIT OF GRIFFITH

HE TRAPPED RABBITS AND HUNTED WILD PIGEONS.

ONE RAIN-LASHED January night in 1929, a lonely and defeated Italian immigrant by the name of Valerio Ricetti arrived on the outskirts of Griffith, New South Wales, and sought shelter in a rock overhang. Another depression-era drifter seeking work, he’d walked 120km from Hillston on the Lachlan River to get there.

Flat broke after a string of temporary jobs and in moral despair having been heartbroken, beaten up, robbed, swindled and jailed, he was at the end of his tether. He was disillusioned with society and wanted no further part of it. When he emerged the next morning and surveyed the deep recess in the rock and the rich soil, abundant wildlife and water sources nearby, then fruit farms stretching to

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