MESSAGE STICK WALK
ALWYN DOOLAN is using his feet to create change. By taking on an approximately 7,000km walk from the top of Queensland to Canberra, Alwyn is supporting Indigenous rights. Tasking himself with the role of messenger, Alwyn is visiting as many communities as he can on his way to ultimately meet with the Prime Minister to discuss sovereignty rights and treaty negotiations. On his walk Alwyn carries with him a stick that brings the messages and stories of the communities he has passed through. His 'Message Stick' carries the voices for all those who have added their support to his walk, and it's purpose.
Tom Dunn: Who is Alwyn Doolan?
Alwyn Doolan: I am a Gooreng Gooreng/ Wakka Wakka man from Woorabinda in Central Queensland.
TD: Tell us about the the trip. Where did the idea come from and what’s your goal?
AD: The Message Stick Walk is about the people and not myself. As I carry the Message Stick through all the communities, it opens up particular discussions that are still taboo and/or uncomfortable to talk about. By relaying those talks and messages to a public social media platform the goal is to raise more awareness of ongoing relative issues that are affecting those communities. To bring forth the indirectly & directly affected a source of healing, knowledge and understanding.
This idea came from having a long personal self identity crisis from living outside of my community for so long. Having moved back home I had seen the cause and affects of the youth having the same concepts within themselves, and I didn’t want to go back and just work a 9-5 standard job. I really wanted to bring back leadership, hope and inspiration to my community. The goal is to inspire the younger generations to be positive role models in their communities, for Aboriginal & non Aboriginal reconciling the perceptions and stereotypes that are displaced between them, and so when I arrive in Canberra a healing motion can really be put into place for a better future for the next generation.
TD:The finish line in Canberra obviously ties in with your desire to see a political change, but why did you choose to start at the top of Queensland?
AD: I started at the top of Queensland because I wanted to grasp and engage with as many communities as I can and to pretty much make a major impact to society.
TD: Despite the fact that even travelling in a straight line from Bamaga would be an enormous trip, you’re taking plenty of detours enroute to Canberra (Alwyn is currently preparing for a detour through Tasmania). What factors have determined your path so far?
AD: It’s been really from the communities themselves reaching out to me, wanting me to come and visit, and that’s how I configure my route. Also looking at the scope of by knowledge which communities have been un-famously have historical awareness.
TD: Your social media creates a really great insight into the highlights and challenges of every day. Why, and what do choose to share online?
AD: I try to bring out the harsh realities to social media, and to share in a way that people will listen and understand, rather than screaming and shouting out of anger. I look at what I choose by what’s often not said, or is not known, to educate and stimulate people’s minds to think about the true reality of a lot of the affected communities. Also just bringing out the journey itself with no political agenda to it, so that people can connect from different generations.
TD: Considering all the awareness you’ve already raised on social media, what outcome would make you consider the trip a ‘success’?
AD: I believe the final walk into Canberra, having thousands of people to walk with me on that leg of journey to hopefully bring out the politicians to hear from the people. We can make history and we can start healing our nation.
TD: As your trip has gone on, you’ve passed through many different environments and climates. How has what you’re carrying changed to cope with the demands of different regions?
AD: I have had to adapt in the different environments for that period of time. It’s a constant change of either carrying more, because of the lack of resources or long distances between communities, or less, if I’m surrounded by plentiful food and water sources.
TD: Travelling at walking pace gives you the opportunity to really take in your surrounds. Has walking created a deeper connection to country for you?
AD: Yes, definitely, the trip has drawn me back from what I now notice are a lot of distractions to having a connection to country.
TD: What is the symbolism behind the message stick you walk with?
AD: It symbolises Communication, Culture , Knowledge & Truth
TD: If you could share one piece of Indigenous culture with the wider public what would it be?
AD: Language would be the top priority for me. Language is forever growing and we have many of them to share.
TD: Nearing the final stages of the trip what has been the standout moment so far?
AD: What stands out is that humanity support in people. It’s amazing what we can do when we unite.
TD: You are over 8 months into the journey now. Does your body and mind feel hardened to the challenges of each day, or are you starting to notice some fatigue?
AD: I’d say I’m more harden physically, the pressure I have put my body through is unbelievable, but it’s the mind that keeps me going. And I not going to lie, I am tired everyday, but I try to find the balance of looking after myself physically to make sure that I will make it Canberra.
TD: How can we get involved with your trip and help the journey?
AD: A few ways people can get involved and or help support the trip are;
- Like & share the FB and Instagram pages (details below).
- Walk with The Message Stick walk for a few hours
- A support vehicle is needed each day to carry my backpack, water & food for each leg of the journey (even one day is good)
- Organise community gatherings at each stop
- Water & fresh tucka is helpful
- Media contacts and/or phone a friend.
TD: Your current plan is to arrive in Canberra in May. What can we expect to see from you after that? A long recovery? Another trip? A celebration?
AD: After I arrive in Canberra I’ll be then planning to walk from Canberra to Uluru as the aftermath of the notice I’ll submit to the Australian Government. And Uluru is where I will hold a 'Message Stick Walk' First Nations People summit.
TD: Any final thoughts you’d like to leave us with?
AD: I just want to leave behind a trail of inspiration to mark a better future for the next generation, and to say that now is the only time for change.
Get in touch with Alwyn Doolan
Facebook - @mssgstickwalk
Instagram - @MSWALK4US
Read more interviews - click here
Photo acknowledgement to Musswellbrook Chronicle
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