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

 

Jimmy Tarpot Cup

The Apsley Racing Club, in conjunction with the Mullagh Wills Foundation and the local Apsley community will once again host the Jimmy Tarpot Cup in 2017.

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 2017 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.

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.

“We are delighted the Apsley Racing Club has continued to celebrate the achievements of local Jimmy Tarpot and indeed the Aboriginal Cricket Team of 150 years ago and 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.

Apsley Racing Club manager Michelle Pettit said the club, Victoria’s oldest country racing club, is pleased to be able to work with the community to honour Jimmy Tarpot.

“The Di Giorgio Family Wines Apsley Cup is a race day with all the best elements of country racing, together with some very special community events and activities. The running of the Jimmy Tarpot Cup is certainly a highlight of the day and ensures we continue to promote our local star from the Aboriginal Cricket Team from 150 years ago,” she said.

Jimmy Tarpot
Jimmy Tarpot was part of the Aboriginal Cricket Team that played against the Melbourne Cricket Club at the MCG on Boxing Day in 1866. On December 28, the Aboriginal team conducted a sports day at the MCG with a highlight being Jimmy Tarpot running 100 yards backwards in 14 seconds.

Jimmy (born Murrumgunerrimin) missed the Aboriginal Cricket Team’s tour of England in 1868 due to injury. He returned to Apsley and became a highly respected wool classer in the district.

Return to Harrow

The Message Book returned to Harrow in a special ceremony at the annual Johnny Mullagh Cricket Match in March.

Part of the Mullagh Championship weekend activities in Harrow, the cricket match was once again a highlight of the weekend and the presentation of the Message Book, from the Mullagh Wills Foundation to the West Wimmera Council, Harrow Discovery Centre and the Mullagh Cricket Match committee, was conducted during the luncheon interval. Both teams involved in the cricket match were part of the ceremony to mark the anniversary of the start of the Journey to the MCG project which commenced with the presentation of the Message Book to the West Wimmera Council at the Johnny Mullagh Cricket Match in March 2016.

At the launch in 2016, the Message Book was presented by Richard Kennedy, a member of the Wotjobaluk Clan and descendant of two members of the 1866 Aboriginal Cricket Team (Dick-a-Dick and Jim Crow), and Richard spoke in the local Wergaia language and included a message written in the Wergaia language. Richard also presented a commemorative Message Stick at the launch in 2016, this was presented to the Mullagh Wills Foundation and then presented to the Melbourne Cricket Club on Boxing Day last year.

Special guests at the launch and again at the presentation of the Message Book to the local Harrow community on March 11 included members of the Edgar and Handbury families and Frank Huthinson, all of whom have had a long association of support of the annual cricket match.

The Journey to the MCG Message Book will remain at the Harrow Discovery Centre until later in the year when it will begin another journey to follow in the tracks of the Aboriginal Cricket Team which left Edenhope for Queenscliff in 1867 before travelling to England to become the first Australian cricket team to play overseas in 1868.

 

Powerful & Symbolic

The most powerful and symbolic moment from Boxing Day happened before a ball was bowled at the MCG in Australia’s traditional Boxing Day Test Match.

Outside the ground at the Indigenous scar tree in Yarra Park a ceremony involving Aboriginal Elders, the Federal Government, the Melbourne Cricket Club and the Mullagh Wills Foundation celebrated, not just the 150th Anniversary of the Boxing Day cricket match between the All Aboriginal team and the MCC, it brought together people from the communities involved in the Mullagh Wills Foundation Journey to the MCG – from the West Wimmera through to Brimbank municipalities.

Community groups, sporting clubs and Indigenous communities all came together in what was a most powerful moment.

Federal Minister, Hon. Dan Tehan MP, represented the Prime Minister at the ceremony and he was joined by Wotjobaluk Elder Richard Kennedy, (the great-great grandson of Dick-a-Dick – a member of the 1866 Aboriginal Cricket Team), Steven Smith the President of the MCC and David Hawker and Jane Nathan from the Mullagh Wills Foundation.

Richard Kennedy presented an Acknowledgement to Country before officially handing over the commemorative Message Stick to Steven Smith who confirmed this will be displayed at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in memory of the Journey to the MCG celebrating the 150th Anniversary of the 1866 Boxing Day match. The Message Stick was presented to the Mullagh Wills Foundation at the launch in Harrow in March and has been held in safe keeping since.

David Hawker, former Member for Wannon and Speaker in Federal House of Parliament then presented the commemorative Message Book to the Hon. Dan Tehan to symbolise the end of the Journey to the MCG from Western Victoria. Dan is the Federal Member for Wannon and was involved in the official launch in March. This Message Book has hundreds of messages of support and reconciliation from the communities in all municipalities involved in the journey, including formal message from each Council.

Such was the impact and meaning of the ceremony, particularly to the Indigenous community, Senior Wurundjeri Elder, Aunty Joy Murphy Wandin asked if she could take the Message Book onto the MCG while she presented the Welcome to Country on the ground prior to the start of play.

After the ceremony Aunty Joy confirmed it was very special to be able to hold this book on the ground during the ceremony because of what it symbolises, bringing communities together from Western Victoria to Melbourne and commemorating a remarkable period in our nations history and the brave young Aboriginal men who travelled to Melbourne to play cricket 150 years earlier.

The Mullagh Wills Foundation is about bringing communities together and thanks to the wonderful support all the municipalities, various community and sporting groups and the Indigenous communities, the Journey to the MCG has succeeded and we have been able to celebrate the remarkable achievements of the Aboriginal Cricket Team 150 year ago.

“The Foundation is about the involvement of communities and recognising the incredible achievements of the Aboriginal Cricket Team 150 years ago, as well as helping to bring communities together and we have been delighted by the involvement and support of all the communities along the way,” said Jane Nathan, Chair of the Mullagh Wills Foundation.

“Our motto is; ‘reconciliation through sport’, and we believe this unique story from our history, particularly the involvement of Tom Wills as the original coach of the team, is a powerful example of recognition and reconciliation, and today this has been recognised in a most powerful way,” added Jane.

 

Return to Richmond

The community celebrations to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the 1866 All Aboriginal Cricket Team, from the West Wimmera Shire through a further ten municipalities, continued at the Punt Road Oval today as part of the Mullagh Wills Foundation Journey to the MCG project.

Foundation Member and former Australian Test Cricketer Mel Jones was joined by Jess Martin and Ben Abbatangelo Indigenous cricketers from Cricket Victoria’s Noogal program and Richmond Indigenous footballer Nathan Drummond and cricket loving teammate Shaun Grigg at the Richmond Football Club (Punt Road Oval) today.

The Aboriginal Cricket Team trained at the Punt Road Oval prior to the Boxing Day match against the MCC in 1866 and the meeting on the ground commemorated the occasion from 150 years ago and provided an opportunity for the athletes to view the message in the Mullagh Wills Foundation Message Book.

Richmond Football Club CEO, Brendan Gale took the opportunity to include a message from the Club:

“The Richmond Football Club acknowledges the role that sport can play in building bridges between cultures. We are proud of the  fact that this pioneering Australian cricket team spent time at our iconic home, Put Rd Oval in 1866, prior to embarking on their historic journey.”

Mel Jones took time out from her busy cricket commentating schedule to be at Punt Road Oval and was delighted to have the opportunity to represent the Foundation with the three Indigenous athletes and the cricket loving Grigg who grew up in Ballarat which has been involved in the Journey to the MCG.

“The Foundation is about the involvement of communities and recognising the incredible achievements of the Aboriginal Cricket Team 150 years ago, as well as helping to bring communities together and we have been delighted by the involvement and support of all the communities along the way,” said Mel

“Our motto is; ‘reconciliation through sport’, and we believe this unique story from our history, particularly the involvement of Tom Wills as the original coach of the team, is a powerful example of recognition and reconciliation,” added Mel.

On Boxing Day, at the scar tree in Yarra Park outside the MCG, the Message Book and a traditional Message Stick, will be presented to Wurundjeri Elders by Wotjobaluk Elder Richard Kennedy, a descendent of Dick-a-Dick a member of the 1866 Aboriginal team.

mel-nathan-shaun-and-jess

Cricket Indigenous Round

Cricket Victoria celebrated the first Indigenous Round in the Premier Cricket competition with a ceremony at Bill Lawry Oval prior to the Northcote home match against St Kilda and the Mullagh Wills Foundation was involved in the celebrations.

Wurundjeri elder Aunty Joy Murphy Wandin tossed the coin for the match and conducted a Welcome to Country Ceremony and spoke about her family’s involvement with cricket over many years. Rohan O’Neill from Cricket Victoria spoke about the importance of the game and Ian Coutts from the Mullagh Wills Foundation reminded both teams of the remarkable journey of the Aboriginal Cricket Team in 1866.

Northcote Indigenous player, Ben Abbatangelo, was joined by St Kilda captain Rob Quiney to sign the commemorative Message Book and a message was included in the book by the Presidents of both clubs.

Click here for the pre-match article on Cricket Victoria website

 

Brimbank Civic Ceremony

A civic reception was held at the Brimbank City Council Civic Centre to welcome the Message Book to the City of Brimbank on November 22nd.

A traditional smoking ceremony and Welcome to Country was presented by Auntie Joy Murphy, a senior Wurundjeri elder of the Kulin alliance in Victoria. This was held outside the Civic Centre in Sunshine prior to the reception inside.

Brimbank City Council Mayor Cr John Hedditch spoke of the City’s delight at being involved in the Journey to the G project and of the acknowledgement from local cricket clubs in the region at the previous weekend’s matches which included markings on the ground to celebrate the “Reconciliation Round”.

City of Melton Mayor, Cr Sophie Ramsey, attended the reception to officially ‘handover’ the Message Book to Cr Hedditch and messages of support which will be included in the commemorative book were read out to guests. This included a message from Hon Natalie Hutchins MP, State Minister for Local Government, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Minister for Industrial Relations (signed as Natalie Hutchins MP & Cricket Mum).

Mullagh Wills Foundation Chair addressed the reception guests outlining the incredible story of the Aboriginal Cricket Team of 1866 and the wonderful community support the Journey to the G had received and how positive the message of reconciliation has been along the journey.

The newly elected councillors of the Brimbank City Council held their first meeting following the reception and this included a report on the Mullagh Wills Foundation Journey to the G project and the reading of the official message from the City to be included in the commemorative Message Book.

The Brimbank City Council, in recognition of its commitment to Reconciliation, acknowledges and commends the Mullagh Wills Foundation ‘Reconciliation Through Sport’ initiative which recognises and celebrates the Aboriginal Cricket Team of the late 1860s.

A Selection of messages from the community:

Aboriginal Culture and Heritage is an important part of modern Victoria. We have so much to learn, so much to respect. It is time to recognise it is time for Aboriginal self-determination and Treaty. Natalie Hutchins MP & Cricket mum.

We respect all communities and through sports are bound together as a multi-cultural community. Suni Phillips, Brimbank Strikers

Sunshine Heights Cricket Club congratulates the Brimbank City Council on endorsing this important celebration of the Mullagh Wills match at the MCG 150 years ago.

The Sunshine United Cricket Club would like to express how humbling it was for us to participate in the celebration of the 150-year anniversary of the historic Australian Cricket team. This event provided a wonderful opportunity to bring people together, breakdown barriers and promote the message or reconciliation and understanding.

On behalf of the North West Metropolitan Cricket Association we would like to acknowledge and strongly endorse the initiative of the Mullagh Wills foundation in remembering and honouring the first truly Australian international cricket team. We acknowledge this initiative will only support and encourage reconciliation through sport. Well done to all involved in the Mullagh Wills foundation. 

Melton City Council

It was the first meeting of the new Melton City Council on Monday evening and the Mullagh Wills Foundation Journey to the G project was the first item on the agenda. The Melton City Council officially received the commemorative Message Book and all Councillors and the CEO included their signatures beneath the Council’s official Statement of Reconciliation.

The Mayor, Cr Sophie Ramsey, who had officiated at a special function at the Kirrip Aboriginal Community House in Melton earlier in the month, spoke enthusiastically about the Journey to the G project and the importance of the Melton City Council being involved and recording a message in the Message Book.

The Mayor welcomed the Mullagh Wills Foundation Chair, Jane Nathan, who outlined the Foundation and the incredible support that has been provided by communities in the Journey to the G project. Jane also thanked the City of Melton for the outstanding support provided by the local community and the Council for the Journey to the G and the commemoration of the 1866 Aboriginal Cricket Team.

Melton City Council Statement of Reconciliation in the Message Book

“Melton City Council acknowledges the skill and commitment shown by the All Aboriginal Cricket Team in the 1860’s firstly in the 1866 Boxing Day match with the Melbourne Cricket Club and secondly, as the first Australian cricket team to tour England.

It is a story of triumph and enduring spirit, in the overcoming over the racial inequality of the day. Racial inequality still exists.

We acknowledge the past injustices faced by our First Peoples and are committed to play our part in ensuring that these injustices are not repeated. We appreciate that we still have a long journey ahead of us.

The heart of sport can successfully drive this process of Reconciliation. It breaks down barriers and unites people of all races to join together for a common purpose. It promotes understanding, tolerance and humility. United, we are a powerful force against adversity.

Well done Mullagh Wills Foundation as organisers of Journey to the ‘G’, in bringing everyone together to celebrate these important messages.”