Events in Queenscliff and WallingtonSpeech
In 1868, something extraordinary took place in the maritime village of Queenscliff: our nation's first international sporting team sailed from the Queenscliff harbour to complete a tour of England. What was even more groundbreaking and inspirational was the fact this team was entirely Indigenous. From all accounts, the team of 13 cricketers, who were mostly from a Victoria's western district, were warmly welcomed in England, playing 99 games of high-quality cricket over 125 days. Back in Australia, the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority had told the team that they could not sail, so the team decided they would 'go fishing'. Their fishing trip began in Queenscliff aboard a steamship then made its way to Botany Bay and then on to England.
On the weekend, I attended Queenscliff's commemorative cricket match between the home team of Anglesea and the Queenscliff team. It was a fascinating moment in our history, a time when inclusivity, acceptance and sporting endeavours overrode racism, division, violence and the tyranny of distance. Thank you to Borough of Queenscliff and the mayor, Ross Ebbels, for hosting this historic cricket match. It really was splendid.
I would also like to acknowledge the Mullagh Wills Foundation, which has worked over many years to increase community awareness of this exciting story. The foundation's title is derived from the lead member of the Indigenous team, Johnny Mullagh, and coach, Tom Wills. A leather-bound message book recording and celebrating the tour was presented by the foundation's Ian Coutts to the mayor of Queenscliff on the occasion. The book has retraced the tour's path with signatures and commemorative statements provided by the Queen and Aboriginal elders. Overall, it was a fantastic event, and I congratulate all involved.
Yesterday I attended the Wallington Strawberry Fair. What an amazing event. With the event celebrating its 40th anniversary, who would have thought that this small fundraiser at the Wallington Primary School would become a region's signature event for homegrown produce, arts and culture attracting tens of thousands of visitors and contributing much to the local economy. It was a pleasure to catch up with school principal, Glen Lauder, who gave me some really fascinating facts. This fair is run by hundreds of parents and volunteers, and all funds go to the school, upgrading the sporting facilities and learning environments. I'd like to commend the school community for its efforts and urge this federal government to do more to fund our fantastic public schools, because we want every child to have the best start in life.Share Tweet