Message Book at the SCG

The Mullagh Wills Foundation commemorative Message Book was welcomed to the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) on the second day of the Ashes Test on Friday January 5, 2018.

The Chairman of the Sydney Cricket & Sports Ground Trust, Anthony Shepherd AO, welcomed Jane Nathan, Chair of the Mullagh Wills Foundation, to the official luncheon in the SCG Trust Suite on the second day’s play between Australia and England. Mr. Shepherd presented Jane with a message of support for the Mullagh Wills Foundation and commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Aboriginal Cricket Team’s tour to England.

This welcome at the SCG follows the special reception for the Message Book at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on Boxing Day in 2016 when the ‘Journey to the MCG’ project was completed following its journey through ten municipalities in Victoria to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the Aboriginal Team v MCC match at the MCG on Boxing Day, 1866.

The Message reads:

“The story of the first cricketers to leave Australian shores is every bit as remarkable today as it was when Tom Wills and Johnny Mullagh led their team which later travelled to England in 1868.

It is a story that resonates around the Sydney Cricket Ground, which is sited on the land of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation.

As Chairman of the Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust, I congratulate the Mullagh Wills Foundation on keeping alive the story of the remarkable tour and educating a new generation of their achievements.

The message of reconciliation that the foundation spreads is important for our nation and its culture.

Sport is the ideal medium to continue spreading that message. It is the greatest unifying force in our country.

Anyone can come to the SCG to watch the sporting stars of the day, just as anyone can aspire to one day earn the right to represent their club, state or country on the same field.

The SCG Trust is proud that an unbroken line of great Indigenous athletes have thrilled crowds at our grounds, from Jack March to Eddie Gilbert, Arthur Beetson to Greg Inglis, the Ella brothers to Kurtley Beale, Anthony Mundine, Kyah Simon, Adam Goodes, Michael O’Loughlin and Buddy Franklin.

Long may that continue.”

Anthony Shepherd AO
Chairman 

The Message Book is now set to return to Victoria to travel through the municipalities the Aboriginal Cricket Team travelled before heading to England for the tour in 1868. This will include the Borough of Queenscliff from where the Aboriginal Cricket Team left Victoria for Sydney before sailing to England in February 1868. The plan is for the Message Book to be welcomed at Lord’s in England to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the 1868 tour.

 

Jimmy Tarpot Cup

The Apsley Racing Club, in conjunction with the Mullagh Wills Foundation, West Wimmera Shire and the local Apsley community will once again host the Jimmy Tarpot Cup in 2018.

The Jimmy Tarpot Cup, named in honour of Jimmy Tarpot, a member of the famous 1866 Aboriginal cricket team, is a 100 yards backwards race which will be run down the main straight of the Edenhope race track prior to the running of the 2018 DiGiorgio Family Wines Apsley Cup on Sunday June 10.

The race was introduced in 2016 to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Aboriginal Cricket team’s match against the Melbourne Cricket Club on the MCG on Boxing Day in 1866. In 2016 the Apsley Racing Club and West Wimmera Shire hosted the “Journey to the MCG” Message Book as part of the race day activities to help celebrate the famous journey the team took from Edenhope to Melbourne in December 1866.

“We are delighted the Apsley Racing Club has continued to celebrate the achievements of local Jimmy Tarpot and indeed the Aboriginal Cricket Team, who 150 years ago became Australia’s first sporting team to play overseas. We thank the Club and the West Wimmera Shire for working with the community to ensure these achievements continue to be commemorated,” said Mullagh Wills Chair, Jane Nathan.

Local footballer Dale Smith won the inaugural Jimmy Tarpot Cup in a time of 15:01 seconds, 1:01 seconds outside the time set by Jimmy Tarpot on the MCG 150 years earlier.

This year two Bendigo Gift winners and a dual Stawell Gift finalist will be facing backwards on the starting line for the Jimmy Tarpot Cup. Melbourne based group of runners, Robbie Spencer, Tim Mason, Kevin Brittain, Tom Griffin and David Griffin will be competing against former local and now Adelaide based Chris Munn in the race to be crowned Jimmy Tarpot 100 yards Australian Backwards Champion. All six runners are looking forward to the day and appreciate the significance of the event.

“I think it is fantastic the Apsley Race Club is hosting this event in honour of Jimmy Tarpot, a local Aboriginal cricketer who ran the 100 yards backwards at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in 14 seconds in 1866. That he became a highly respected wool classer in the district over 150 years ago adds to his story and I certainly appreciate why the Race Club is keen to honour him in such a respectful manner,” said Tim Mason, who was runner-up to Dean Capobianco in the 1990 Stawell Gift.

While Jimmy did not make the famed tour of England in 1868 with his fellow teammates, he did return to Apsley and became a renowned wool classer.

‘The Club wanted to do something to promote the anniversary of the Aboriginal Cricket Team’s tour to England and knowing the history of Jimmy Tarpot it couldn’t be anything but a backwards race so we are pleased to continue this event in 2018,” said Apsley Racing Club President, Roger Pfitzner.

The Apsley Racing Club is Victoria’s oldest country racing club, and the Sunday race meeting is part of a big weekend in the region.

 

Jimmy Tarpot

The event is named in honour of Jimmy Tarpot, who worked on Bringalbert Station outside of Apsley and was a member of the Aboriginal Cricket Team that was invited to play the Melbourne Cricket Club on the MCG on Boxing Day in 1866. On December 28, 1866 the Aboriginal Cricket team conducted a sports day at the MCG and Jimmy Tarpot thrilled the thousands of people in attendance with the unusual feat of running 100 yards backwards in 14 seconds.

Jimmy (born Murrumgunerrimin) missed the Aboriginal Cricket Team’s famous tour of England in 1868 due to illness. He and his wife Jenny returned to Apsley and he became a highly respected wool classer in the district. Jimmy Tarpot is buried at the Apsley cemetery.

Edenhope starts next journey

The Annual Edenhope Show was the scene for the official commencement of the next journey for the Mullagh Wills Foundation Commemorative Message Book.

Part of the official opening of the Edenhope Show by Emma Kealy MP, Member for Lowan, included the presentation of the Message Book to the local community to signify the start of the next journey which will include communities from Victoria and New South Wales.

The Message Book will travel to the Glenelg Shire and Warrnambool before being presented to the Sydney Cricket Ground Trust on day two of the New Year’s Ashes Test at the SCG in early January. Then the book will return to Victoria where it will travel to a number of communities, including Geelong and Queenscliff and return to the West Wimmera for an official ceremony to mark the 150th Anniversary of the Aboriginal Cricket Team tour of England in 1868.

From the West Wimmera the Message Book travel to England where it will be welcomed at Lord’s, the home of cricket before returning to Australia later in 2018.

As part of the ceremony at the annual Edenhope Show, the Mullagh Wills Foundation presented David Leahy, CEO of West Wimmera, with the Reconciliation Victoria HART Award (Helping Achieve Reconciliation Together), won by the Foundation earlier in the year.

“We believe it is appropriate for the West Wimmera to display this Award in the coming months as this region is not only the home of the Aboriginal Cricket Team, it has been the starting point for our commemorative celebrations and the West Wimmera Shire has led the way for other communities to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the magnificent achievements of the Aboriginal Cricket Team and, in doing so, promote reconciliation through sport to the community,” said Mullagh Wills Secretary Ian Coutts.

For Emma Kealy MP it was the second time she had been involved with the Message Book journey, having also been involved in the original ‘Journey to the MCG’ launch at the annual Johnny Mullagh Cricket match in Harrow in March 2016.

 

                      

Skipton Celebrates

Skipton Remembers and Celebrates

The community of Skipton has embraced the 150th celebrations of the Aboriginal Cricket teams of 1866 and 1868 with a memorial sign unveiled on the banks of Mount Emu Creek.

Through the Federal Government’s Stronger Communities Programme and the Mullagh Wills Foundation, together with the Corangamite Council, the commemorative sign was unveiled by Corangamite Major, Cr Jo Beard and Mullagh Wills Foundation Chair, Jane Nathan, at a ceremony in Skipton on Sunday November 12.

With additional support from the Melbourne Cricket Club, the sign recognises the Aboriginal Cricket Team which played against the Melbourne Cricket Club on Boxing Day in 1866 and the Mullagh Wills Foundation Journey to the MCG project which celebrated the 150th Anniversary of the match in 2016.

The Hon Dan Tehan MP, local Member for Wannon, worked with the local communities to support the Mullagh Wills Foundation to provide ongoing recognition of our Indigenous history and the role sport plays in reconciliation in the municipalities in his electorate through the Wannon Stronger Communities Programme.

Mullagh Wills Chair, Jane Nathan said it was wonderful to have the support of the local community and the Corangamite Shire as part of the ongoing recognition of this incredible story in our nation’s history.

“The Mullagh Wills Foundation is about reconciliation and working with communities to, not just celebrate the Aboriginal Cricket Team, Australia’s first ever team to travel overseas, it is about bringing communities together and today is a fitting example of this. Thank you to the local Skipton community, the Corangamite Shire and of course the Hon Dan Tehan and the Federal Government for the wonderful support of this project.”

Corangamite Mayor Cr Jo Beard was delighted the Council was able to continue to support the project and contribute to ‘Reconciliation Through Sport’. She also acknowledged the support of the Hon Dan Tehan and said this was much more than a celebration of the Aboriginal Cricket Team.

“Today marks the completion of the Journey to the MCG project for Corangamite, but it also marks a new beginning in recognition of the first peoples of Australia who lived here, on the banks of Mount Emu Creek, for thousands of generations. Let this modest acknowledgement be a reminder to us of their capacity and achievements – the most enduring living culture on earth.”

The commemorative sign in Skipton is the first of four signs to be erected as part of the Federal Government’s Stronger Communities Programme in the Wannon electorate. Signs will also be erected in Ararat Rural City, Pyrenees Shire and the Southern Grampians Shire, all celebrating the Mullagh Wills Foundation’s ‘Journey to the MCG’ project and the Aboriginal Cricket team of 1866 and promoting reconciliation through sport.

               

150th Anniversary Celebrations in Harrow

Harrow, the home of the annual Johnny Mullagh Memorial Cricket Match, is celebrate in style on Sunday March 11th for the 150th Anniversary of the First XI 1868 cricket story.

The ‘Spirit of the First XI 1868’ exhibition at the famous Harrow Discovery Centre (Johnny Mullagh Cricket Centre) will officially open on Friday March 2nd and this will include the announcement of the Acquisitive Art Prize. The following weekend the people of Harrow and surrounding district will host the celebrations to commemorate the 150th Anniversary. These celebrations will be the culmination of years of work by the local community to ensure this incredible story of the Aboriginal Cricket Team is remembered through the Discovery Centre and the annual Mullagh Championships during the long weekend in March.

The highlight of the 2018 celebrations will be the First XI Legends Concert at Johnny Mullagh Park in Harrow. Featuring Isaiah Firebrace, the winner of X Factor in 2016 ad Australia’s representative in The Eurovision Song Contest in 2017. For Isaiah this will have an incredible significance as he is a descendant of Cuzens who was a member of the Aboriginal Cricket Team, ‘The First XI 1868’. Also performing at the concert will be Benny Walker, Neil Murray and Todd Cook who will release his new album telling the story of the First XI of 1868.

The Celebrations in Harrow on Sunday March 11

  • Farmers Market from 9:00am in Blair Street
  • National Bush Billy Cart Race from 10:00am
  • Annual Johnny Mullagh Championship Cricket Match from 10:00am at the Johnny Mullagh Oval
  • Quickshear Competition from 11:00am at the Johnny Mullagh Recreation Reserve
  • Street Performers from 5:00pm at the Hermitage hotel
  • First XI Legends Concert from 6:00pm at the Johnny Mullagh Park

The weekend promises to be a wonderful celebration of an important part of our national history.

For further details please contact Josie Sangster at the Harrow Discovery Centre 03 55831387 or 0439 498 262.

 

Logo designed by Dixon Patten, descendant of James Couzens (Mosquito) First XI 1868

 

Edenhope Community Celebrates

The local Edenhope community has been celebrating the Aboriginal Cricket Teams of 1866 and 1868 with the Mullagh Wills Foundation commemorative Message Book visiting schools and community centres in the region.

Helen Roll has escorted the Message Book and discussed the region’s connection to the Aboriginal Cricket Teams to interested groups, including the Edenhope College, St Malachy’s School and the Apsley Primary School (pictured above).

A group also paid a visit to Lake Bringalbert near Apsley and photographed the Message Book beside the lake, near where the Aboriginal cricketers played.

“The reaction has been fantastic and while many of us know of this wonderful history, there are some who were not aware of the significance of this time in our history and the important role Edenhope, Harrow, Apsley and surrounding areas played in developing the Aboriginal Cricket Team that played at the MCG in 1866 and then toured England in 1888. It has been a great experience escorting the book around the community,” Helen said.

The Message Book will be in Sydney for the Ashes Test at the SCG in early January with the SCG Trust officially welcoming the book to the ground.

HART Award Winner

Mullagh Wills Foundation – 2017 Community HART Award Winner

Having previously been selected as one of four finalists in the Small Community Category, the Mullagh Wills Foundation ‘Journey to the MCG’ project was announced as the winner of the 2017 Community HART Awards (Helping Achieve Reconciliation Together) at the Awards presentation ceremony held at the Koorie heritage Trust at Federation Square on Friday June 2.

The Award is recognition by Reconciliation Victoria and the Victorian Local Governance Association (VLGA) of the ‘Journey to the MCG” project demonstrating Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people working together and contributing to reconciliation through relationships, respect and understanding.

The Award was presented to Jane Nathan (Mullagh Wills Foundation Chair) by the Hon Natalie Hutchins (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Minister for Local Government) and Belinda Duarte (Reconciliation Victoria Co-Chair).

“On behalf of the Mullagh Wills Foundation I am absolutely delighted to receive this wonderful award and thank everyone who has been involved and helped to ensure the Journey to the MCG was a success in helping to achieve our goal of reconciliation through sport and ensuring more people know about the incredible story of the Aboriginal Cricket team in the 1860s. This Award is recognition of the volunteer committee and also of the ten municipalities involved in the project and the many community groups and hundreds of people who supported the Journey to the MCG,” said Jane Nathan.

“The manner in which each of the municipalities embraced this project and helped tell the story of the Aboriginal Cricket Team’s journey to Melbourne and match against the Melbourne Cricket Club at the MCG on Boxing Day in 1866 has been wonderful. And to have the support of the Melbourne Cricket Club on Boxing Day at the sacred scar tree in Yarra Park helped complete this journey and provide further focus on this story and the role sport can play in reconciliation,” Jane added.

The ‘Journey to the MCG’ commenced in Harrow in March 2016 with the support of the Barengi Gadjin Land Council and continued through to Melbourne on Boxing Day with Senior Wurundjeri Elder, Aunty Joy Murphy Wandin carrying the Message Book onto the ground prior to the start of the Australia Cricket Test match. At the launch of the project in Harrow, Wotjobaluk Elder Richard Kennedy, (the great-great grandson of Dick-a-Dick – a member of the 1866 Aboriginal Cricket Team), delivered a very special ‘Welcome to Country’ in the traditional Wergaia language. At the conclusion of the project, Richard Kennedy delivered a ‘Welcome to Country’ in the Wergaia language at the sacred scar tree in Yarra Park, a language that had not been spoken at this site for 150 years.

Pictured above: Cr Victoria Borg (Brimbank City Council), Jane Nathan (Chair Mullagh Wills Foundation) and Hon Natalie Hutchins (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Local Government)  Emma Staples and Shelly White (Mullagh Wills Foundation Committee), Cr Margaret Attley (VLGA President) and Ian Coutts (Mullagh Wills Foundation Committee).

About the HART Awards

The Community HART Awards, now in their fourth year, recognise local governments and community organisations that are advancing reconciliation in Victoria.

Reconciliation Victoria and the Victorian Local Governance Association present the awards, with support from Bank Australia and LGV.

The Awards recognise Victorian partnerships and initiatives that contribute to reconciliation outcomes at a local level. Nominations should be for initiatives that demonstrate Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people working together, and initiatives that have contributed to relationships, respect and understanding.

 

HART Awards Finalist

The Mullagh Wills Foundation ‘Journey to the MCG’ project has been recognised by Reconciliation Victoria and the Victorian Local Governance Association (VLGA) as a finalist in this year’s Community HART (Helping Achieve Reconciliation Together) Awards.

The Journey to the MCG project is one of four finalists’ in the Small Community Organisation/Group Award, along with the Phoenix FM – Koori Shout-Out, Tarerer Gunditj Project Association Inc. – Tarerer Festival “Sharing Culture’ and the Warrnambool Community Garden Inc. – Indigenous recognition seat.

“We are thrilled to be nominated as a finalist in these very special awards and believe it is wonderful recognition of this important project which involved ten municipalities and their communities from Western Victoria through to Melbourne during 2016 and of our key purpose of reconciliation through sport,” said Mullagh Wills Foundation Chair, Jane Nathan.

The Awards ceremony to announce the winners will be held on Friday June 2, during Reconciliation Week, at the Koorie Heritage Trust in Melbourne.

About the HART Awards

The Community HART Awards, now in their fourth year, recognise local governments and community organisations that are advancing reconciliation in Victoria.

Reconciliation Victoria and the Victorian Local Governance Association present the awards, with support from Bank Australia and LGV.

An award ceremony will be held during Reconciliation Week at the Koorie Heritage Trust in Federation Square where winners will receive a prize in addition to the awardThe community organisation winner will also be awarded $1000 to support their reconciliation initiatives.

The Awards recognise Victorian partnerships and initiatives that contribute to  reconciliation outcomes at a local level.  Nominations should be for initiatives that demonstrate Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people working together, and initiatives that have contributed to relationships, respect and understanding.

For more details and a bio on the 14 finalists in the three categories please visit the Reconciliation Victoria website click here

 

City of Ballarat

The Message Book has been welcomed to the City of Ballarat following a reception at the Ballarat Town Hall this week. The Message Book was presented to the Mayor of Ballarat, Cr Des Hudson by the Mayor of Golden Plains, Cr Des Phelan. The Golden Plains Council being the custodians of the Message Book for the last three weeks.

The presentation of the Message Book was part of the Civic Ceremony which included the unveiling of the Ballarat Town Hall Wadawurrung Acknowledgment plaque which was unveiled by the Mayor and Wadawurrung Elder, Aunty Marlene Gilson.

The activities commenced outside where Aunty Marlene’s daughter, Tammy Gilson,  conducted a traditional smoking ceremony before moving into the Ballarat Town Hall where Aunty Marlene honoured the guests with a Welcome to Country.

Before presenting the Message Book to the City of Ballarat, Golden Plains Mayor, Cr Des Phelan, said it had been an honour for the Golden Plains Shire Council to host the Message Book and said as well as the official message from Council, a number of sporting clubs, schools and residents had included messages of support. In handing over the book he acknowledged the importance of this significant event and expressed the Council’s support for reconciliation through sport.

Mayor, Cr Des Hudson was delighted to welcome the Message Book to the City of Ballarat and confirmed it would be on display in the Ballarat Town Hall for the next three weeks. Cr Hudson spoke about the incredible story that is the Aboriginal Cricket Team caught the last train to Melbourne on December 21, 1866 for the Boxing Day match and the team, including Johnny Mullagh and Tom Wills, played against Ballarat in January 1867.

Richard Kennedy, the eldest grandson of two members of the original Aboriginal Cricket Team (Dick-a-Dick and Jim Crow), who honoured guests at the launch in Harrow, Western Victoria, in March was another special guest and he spoke about the history of the Aboriginal Cricket Team and the importance of remembering their incredible achievements so long ago and the role the station holders in the Western District played in teaching the Aboriginals the game of cricket.

The ceremony was completed with a fun session of ‘indoor cricket’ in the Ballarat Town Hall courtesy of Cricket Victoria.

 

Golden Plains Welcome

The Golden Plains Council held a special ceremony in Linton to welcome the commemorative Message Book to the Shire. The feature of the ceremony was the ‘Welcome to Country’ by Wadawurrung representative Deanne Gilson, the daughter of renowned Aboriginal artist, Aunty Marlene Gilson from Ballarat.

Councillors, Council staff and community members were on hand for the occasion which saw Golden Plains Mayor, Cr Des Phelan and CEO Rod Nicholls, accept the Message Book on behalf of the community.

The Mayor and CEO had been involved in the State Parliament reception for the Mullagh Wills Foundation in mid-July and have plans to involve a number of community groups to help celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Aboriginal Cricket Team travelling through their Shire.

The Message Book will remain with the Golden Plains Council until it is presented to the City of Ballarat on Wednesday September 14.