Fred Reece was born in 1903 on Bangate Station, on the Narran River, between Lightning Ridge and Goodooga. His birthdate was recorded as August 3 by Katherine Langloh-Parker, the wife of the owner of Bangate. Langloh-Parker wrote a number of books about her time at Bangate, including Australian Legendary Tales and The Euahlayi Tribe.
Fredís maternal grandparents were Muruwari and his father presumably a white man. The Muruwari country is west of Bangate, west of the Culgoa river.
Fred learnt Yuwaaliyaay as a young person, but according to some locals did not speak it much in later life. He moved around much of the north of NSW, including working at Toomelah as a builder around World War 2.
In the 1970s Janet Mathews, working for the then Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, recorded many language speakers in the north of NSW. She recorded Fred Reece from around 1970 to 1974, making around 25 tapes. He was also briefly recorded by others. Fred was a very knowledgeable Yuwaaliyaay speaker and gave many words, sentences and narratives as part of the tapes. However he was not fully fluent and frequently said something like ĎThere is a word or way of saying that, but old Reece doesnít know it.í
His tapes have been a major source of information about Yuwaalayaay / Yuwaaliyaay. Because the grammar of Yuwaalayaay and Yuwaaliyaay is regarded as virtually identical with that of Gamilaraay Fred has also been a major source of information for Gamilaraay revival.
Fred spent many years at Lightning Ridge, where he was well known and respected. In his 80s he was still working as a blacksmith, repairing tools for opal miners. There is a road named after him in Lightning Ridge.
He died in the 1980s and is buried at New Bangate, beside his son, who died before him. His grave has a fence around it. He is reputed to have said - ĎI donít want kangaroos hopping over me when Iím down there.í
This information about Fred Reece comes largely from the tapes and from people in Lightning Ridge.