Journey to the G - 2016
The Mullagh Wills Foundation will celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the 1866 Boxing Day match between the MCC and the All Aboriginal Cricket Team followed by the 150th Anniversary of the first Australian Cricket Team to tour England in 2018. The focus for the celebrations will be the growth of cricket and football in bringing communities together, illustrated in the roles of Johnny Mullagh and Tom Wills, together with the MCC and rural communities
To provide an opportunity to bring together communities across Victoria and to recognise the contributions different cultures have made to the Nation through sport.
To increase community awareness of the contributions made to sport and the community by Johnny Mullagh and Tom Wills.
Encourage communities to recognise and participate in the 150th Anniversary of the Aboriginal Cricket Team’s:
To develop local heroes and role models to increase participation in sport and a sense of belonging for those who are isolated or disenfranchised in Indigenous and general communities.
The Mullagh Wills Foundation recognises the tremendous achievements of the Aboriginal Cricket Team in the late 1860s, in particular the match against the Melbourne Cricket Club at the MCG in 1866 and the tour of England in 1868.
The Mullagh Wills Foundation will celebrate the remarkable achievements of this team and focus on the brilliance of the recognised star of the team, Johnny Mullagh, and the original coach of the team, Tom Wills.
Johnny Mullagh - the star of the team who played one season with the Melbourne Cricket Club on his return from the tour of England
Tom Wills – the original coach of the Aboriginal Cricket Team, he played cricket for the Melbourne Cricket Club, was the MCC Secretary and a pioneer of Australian Rules Football.
Mullagh and Wills both played in the Aboriginal Team against the MCC on Boxing Day at the MCG in 1866.
Cricket played an important role in helping to break down the barriers that existed between Europeans and Aborigines in the 1860s. After developing their participation in the game an Aboriginal team from Western Victoria was invited to play the Melbourne Cricket Club on the MCG on Boxing Day in 1866.
Tom Wills travelled to Edenhope (Western Victoria) in November 1866 to coach the Aboriginal team (Australian Aboriginal Cricket Team) for the Boxing Day match. Over 8,000 spectators attended this match against the MCC.
In early 1867 the team toured Victoria and New South Wales before returning to Western Victoria. Later in the year with two financial backers and a new captain, Charles Lawrence, the team regrouped, and in February 1868 the Australian Aboriginal Cricket Team became the first cricket team to leave Australian shores. In May the Australian Aboriginal Cricket Team took the field against Surrey at Kennington Oval, becoming the first Australian cricket team to play in England.
An estimated crowd of 7,000 were at the ground to see the historic match, some ten years before the first white Australians took the field at Lord’s, and 14 years before the ‘birth’ of the Ashes.
In 2012 Mullagh was one of the 20 inaugural inductees into The Victorian indigenous Honour Roll.
In 2004 the Johnny Mullagh Cricket Centre was opened in Harrow. The centre was developed by the local community to tell the story of Johnny Mullagh and to celebrate the story of the 1868 Aboriginal Cricket Team who became Australia’s fist international cricket stars.
The Mullagh Wills Foundation Committee
Jane Nathan - Chair
Ian Coutts - Secretary
Mark Crouch - Treasurer
David Hawker – Former Speaker House of Representatives, Member for Wannon
Tony Cavanagh – Life Member Thoroughbred Racing, Australia Day Ambassador
Emma Staples – Cricket Victoria
Shelley White – Vic Health
Melanie Jones – Former Australian Test Cricketer, Cricket Commentator
Journey to the G
The journey commenced in Harrow with the official launch at the annual Johnny Mullagh cricket match on Sunday March 13, 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. Other dignitaries included Member for Wannon Hon Dan Tehan and State Member for Lowan Emma Kealy MP and representatives of five Councils.
The first message was written into the commemorative Message Book and a Message Stick was presented to Mullagh Wills Foundation by the local Barengi Gadjin Aboriginal Land Council Elders. This will be presented to the MCC on Boxing Day.
Each Municipality along the route has been invited to pass a formal motion of reconciliation and support of the Aboriginal Cricket Team at a Council meeting and have this official message included in the Message Book.
The Aboriginal communities along the journey will be invited to participate in the local Council meetings for each municipality and to provide a small artefact, representing their community, as part of the Journey to the G.
Sporting clubs and organisations, together with community groups and schools, will also be invited to celebrate this important time in Australia’s history. Messages of support will be collated into the Message Book. (Like Ballan v Buninyong cricket match)
Other activities organised by their local community groups will be held during the period the Message Book is in the municipality.
This project will culminate with a ceremony at the MCG on Boxing Day 2016 at the Australia v Pakistan Test Match. The Message Book and Message Stick will be presented to the MCC by the Mayors and Aboriginal Elders of the municipalities along the journey.
Melbourne Cricket Ground – Monday December 26 2016
Ballan win the inaugural 'Mullagh Wills Trophy' cricket match against Buninyong.
Email from Ian Coutts 28/4/2017
We have been advised the Mullagh Wills Foundation ‘Journey to the MCG’ project, from Harrow to the MCG between March and December 2016, has been shortlisted as a finalist for the small community organisation/group 2017 HART Awards.
This is the 4th year of the awards which are held in partnership with the Victorian Local Governance Association (VLGA) and Reconciliation Victoria to recognise local governments and community organisations that are advancing reconciliation in Victoria. This is wonderful recognition of the project and importantly of the municipalities, community groups and everyone involved in the project during 2016 and we thank you very much for your support.
The finalists will be showcased on social media (Facebook and Twitter) leading up to the awards which will be held on Friday June 2, at the Koorie Heritage Trust in Federation Square. More information on the HART Awards can be found on the Reconciliation Victoria website: http://www.reconciliationvic.org.au/pages/2017-hart-awards.php
On behalf of the Mullagh Wills Foundation Committee we wish to thank everyone - municipalities, community groups and supporters - for being part of the activities recognising reconciliation through sport via the Mullagh Wills Foundation Journey to the MCG project.
We look forward to providing you with further details in the lead up to, and following the awards on June 2.
Thank you again for your wonderful support.
Mullagh Wills Foundation
Jane Nathan - Chair
Ian Coutts – Secretary
Ian – 0411 107 889
December 23 2016
In 2012, Ian Coutts visited the small western Victorian town of Harrow as an Australia Day ambassador, and was struck by the local history centre and the story it told of Johnny Mullagh and the 1868 Aboriginal cricket team.
On visits to countries such as Vietnam, Coutts had frequently been overwhelmed by the sense of history he encountered. Here, to his mind, was an amazing item of Australian history that no one seemed to know about. The following year, the Australia Day ambassador to Edenhope and Harrow, Tony Cavanagh, came away with a similar impression. Joining forces with former Melbourne Cricket Club committee member Jane Nathan, they formed the Mullagh Wills Foundation and resolved to do something to boost the story's visibility.
Their effect has been two-fold. They had discussions with Cricket Australia, modifying its take on the story. Up until that point, Cricket Australia's focus was solely on the 1868 tour of England and not the team's tour, two years earlier, up the eastern seaboard which included the 1866 Boxing Day match at the MCG. The Mullagh Wills Foundation's second initiative was more local in its focus. Carrying a leather-coated message book with parchment pages, they retraced the four-day journey of the team from Lake Wallace (now called Edenhope) to Melbourne in 1866, connecting with Aboriginal groups and community organisations along the way. This part of the project became known as "the Journey to the G".
At the launch of the journey in Harrow, Richard Kennedy, a descendant of the Aboriginal player known as Dick-a-Dick, wrote in the message book in both English and the Wergaia language: "It's good that all of you are here on our Jardwadjali and Wotjobaluk land. I pay respects to the elders (The elders are good). I pay respects to the land (The land is good). Long ago, grandfathers played cricket. They all Journey to the ground. Today, you all and I Journey to the ground. Today, you all and I celebrate."
Another Wotjobaluk and Jardwadjali elder, Bronwyn Pickford, is a descendant of both Dick-a-Dick and another Aboriginal player in the team known as Jim Crow. She wrote: "I remember their great journey. Long ago Dick-a-Dick and Jim Crow walked the land. Today, I continue the great journey leaving my footprints ... It was a proud moment for me to see this commemorative journal commence the journey to the G and stop in the town I've made my home, Ballarat."