I mean, this is the oldest living culture in the world, and how lucky are we that we still have it? So, we need to spread the word to all our young people about what happened in the past and how you kept this land going for all those thousands and thousands of years. We’ve got this wonderful place to live in, just because someone in the past, the Aboriginal people, made sure it was preserved for us.
So, we’re here in Wangaratta this morning to celebrate the second year of the Marmungun Rock ceremony, which actually acknowledges some of our citizens for their great work, and champions in our community for what they do.
We’re here to unveil the handprint of Fran Doig, the Wangaratta Citizen of the Year for 2018. This is the second year that this event has run, and I think, as a member of the Dirrawarra Indigenous Network, I feel pretty proud as to what the group has achieved, and also what Wangaratta community has achieved, with hosting this event and having such a special moment of having someone’s handprint carved on to the Marmungun Rock. It’s going to be there forever, and people can come back to look at. Not only Fran’s family and friends, but also the whole community of Wangaratta.
Today’s ceremony was probably the most important ceremony that I’ve had. It’s very nice to be recognised by the community as having done a few things, but lots of people do that. Not everybody gets this wonderful opportunity, which I see as the reconciliation – non-confrontational, just a lovely ceremony of the two groups coming together in real harmony.
Mayor Ken Clarke
Having not been here last year for the first one, and coming today, I thought it was an excellent ceremony. The dances, Desiree with the Welcome to Country, and it’s just given my community a bit of an insight into what your work’s all about, in recognising our Indigenous people.
I think it brings everybody in the Wangaratta area together and recognises each of us as equals, and recognises a concept where somebody’s handprint is actually there for a very long time, and a tradition that’s been around for many, many thousands of years. I think people will recognise that Indigenous communities and Indigenous people have culture that does back thousands of years. It does affect everybody, and I think it will continue to affect everybody, and I think to recognise each other and join together and forgive each other for the things that they’ve done in the past.
Coming along today, it was important to hear what this means, and what the rock means and how it comes from, you know, Uncle Wally’s dream and fruition, where we’ve actually got this meeting place for people to come – a brilliant crowd, Fran is acknowledged as a Citizen of the Year for the Wangaratta Rural City. But, beyond that, it’s actually just about that melting of the communities together into one place, hence the Marmungun Rock and why we’re here today.
With the Marmungun Rock ceremony and the significance of that and having it in Reconciliation Week, it’s about bringing two communities together. It’s about bringing our Aboriginal community and our Aboriginal culture, and we’re sharing it with the Wangaratta community as a whole. Sharing it with our non-Indigenous community, with our non-Indigenous peers, and just showing them how important that is.
I just want to say, it was the most humbling, wonderful honour that I’ve ever had in my life. I don’t know what I did to deserve it, but I loved it. Every minute of it. We’ve had a lot of fun, a lot of laughs, and I’ve learnt a tremendous lot, and I want to keep learning and I want to keep sharing things. So, hopefully the future, that’s what it will be.
Reviewed 20 April 2020