Journey to the MCG

This project is the winner of Reconciliation Victoria 2017 Community HART (Helping Achieve Reconciliation Together) Award – small community category.

The journey commenced in Harrow, in Western Victoria, with the official launch at the annual Johnny Mullagh Shield cricket match on Sunday March 13, 2016. This is part of the Johnny Mullagh Championships weekend held in Harrow each year.

The launch involved local Aboriginal community leaders and descendants of the original Aboriginal Cricket Team and the original property settlers who taught the Aboriginals to play cricket, together with invited dignitaries from the MCC, Cricket and Government. At the launch the first message was written in the commemorative Message Book in the local Wergaia language and a Message Stick was presented to the West Wimmera Shire on behalf the local Aboriginal Community by Richard Kennedy of the Wotjobaluk Clan.

Each Municipality from the West Wimmera to Melbourne, via the route taken by the Aboriginal Cricket Team in 1866, held a formal function to welcome the Message Book to their region and included a message of reconciliation and support of the Aboriginal Cricket Team. Local Aboriginal Communities were also involved, together with community groups, sporting groups and schools, all commemorating the Aboriginal Cricket Team of 1866 with message of support.

The Councils involved in the first project of the Journey in 2016:

• West Wimmera Shire Council on Sunday March 13 Official Launch in Harrow
• Southern Grampians Shire Council on Wednesday April 13 in Hamilton
• Ararat Rural City on Tuesday May 17 in Ararat
• Corangamite Shire Council in Skipton on June 28
• Pyrenees Shire Council on Tuesday July 19 in Beaufort
• Golden Plains Shire Council on Tuesday August 23 in Linton
• Ballarat City Council on Wednesday September 14 in Ballarat
• Moorabool Shire Council on Wednesday October 6 in Bacchus Marsh
• Melton City Council on Monday November 21 in Melton
• Brimbank City Council  November 22 in Sunshine

This initial journey culminated with and official ceremony in Yarra Park outside the MCG on Boxing Day 2016 with a ceremony at the ‘scar tree’ involving with handover of the Message Stick to the Chairman of the Melbourne Cricket Club and the commemorative Message Book to Hon Dan Tehan MP who was representing the Prime Minister.

While the Message Stick will remain at the Melbourne Cricket Club, the Message Book will continue on the journey which will include a return to the Mullagh Championship game in Harrow in March 2017.

The Launch

The launch of the Journey to the G was held in conjunction with the annual Johnny Mullagh Cricket Match in Harrow on Sunday March 13, 2016.

The launch was attended by Hon Dan Tehan, Member for Wannon and Emma Kealy MP, Member for Lowan, together with Councillors from five municipalities.

Descendants of the original Aboriginal Cricket Team and of the original property settlers who taught the Aboriginals to play cricket, including David and Lou Edgar, together with invited dignitaries from the MCC, Cricket and the local organising committees of the Mullagh Cricket Match and Mullagh Championship Weekend.

Other special guests included the Geoff and Helen Handbury and Frank Hutchinson, long time supporters of the annual Mullagh Cricket Match.

The commemorative Message Book was presented to the Mullagh Wills Foundation Committee and the West Wimmera Shire Council by the local Aboriginal Community and this will be presented to each municipality on the Journey.

A commemorative Message Stick was presented to the Mullagh Wills Foundation Chair and the West Wimmera Shire by the local Aboriginal Community for presentation to the MCC in December.

Based on The Victorian Aboriginal Cultural Groups most commonly mentioned in the book “Meerreeng-an Here Is My Country”, from the Victorian Government Culture Victoria website, the journey will involve the following Aboriginal Cultural Groups:

• Jardwadjali
• Gunditjmara
• Djab Wurrung
• Wathaurung
• Wurundjeri

Thanks to the wonderful support from the Barengi Gadjin Land Council and Winda-Mara Aboriginal Corporation at the launch and early stages of the Journey to the MCG.

The Route