September 27, 2013
Forty-eight young Indigenous students have learned the hard way exactly how tough life was for their great-grandparents … but they were still smiling when they walked into Cherbourg on Thursday morning.
The students, all part of the Yalari scholarship program, came from all over Queensland, NSW, Western Australia and the Northern Territory to take part in the second Commemorative Walk To Cherbourg.
And they all gave up a week of their holidays for the privilege of walking 122km.
The walk re-enacts the forced movement of 61 Aborigines from the Durundur mission (now Woodford) to Barambah mission (now Cherbourg) in 1904; 115 of the former Durundur inhabitants were luckier … they caught the train!
The people who walked included men, women and children. Amongst them were the grandparents of many current Cherbourg and Murgon residents.
Jeanette Brown recalled today how her grandmother Eliza Malone carried her son Lenny all the way on his shoulders …
Fast forwarding to 2013, the young walkers had it a lot easier, camping at Kilcoy, Landcruiser Mountain Park and Yallakool on their way to Cherbourg. But it was still more than 100km, and the warm weather added to their discomfort.
Fortunately, the only injuries along the way were a few blisters.
Each of the students was presented with a Commemorative Certificate by Cherbourg mayor Ken Bone and elder Grace Stanley when they arrived at The Ration Shed Museum.
Yalari is a not-for-profit organisation begun by former Murgon resident – and 2011 Australian of the Year finalist – Waverley Stanley.
It offers secondary education scholarships at Australia’s leading boarding schools for Indigenous students.
The first Commemorative Walk was held in 2011. On that occasion, 36 students were accompanied by volunteers from the Army Defence Force’s 9RQR regiment based in Brisbane.