Cherbourg Big Lift

When I first joined QUT, we had an orientation week and I saw the banners for QUT Big Lift. Being new and all, I took the literal meaning to the club’s name and walked away from that place, assuming it meant some weight lifting sports club. It did not click to me that it is actually the kind of club I would have fun with until I spoke to Michael during Global Café event. It appears that QUT Big Lift is a non-profit organization that develops a relationship with the Indigenous community through various volunteering and service learning activities.

Prior to any association with the club, I joined the Harmony Day events and knew about the history of Australia and the significance of Harmony Day. I still might not have gotten all my facts right, mind you, history has never been my favourite subject. However, I was interested to know more about the Indigenous community.

I found out about an event through East West Facebook page and applied for it because it definitely sounded like my kinda thing. Fast forward to 20th May, I joined the QUT Big Lift team to volunteer for Fun Run at Cherbourg. The event was in conjunction with Reconciliation Week. For those who do not know- There are two milestones that are being remembered here, one is the referendum to recognize Indigenous community as part of Australia and another is a law that recognizes the connection between the Indigenous community and the land even before Australians were here. It is celebrated to build a better relationship between Indigenous people and other Australians.

To be honest, I was feeling nervous about meeting a new group of people and I did not know much of what was going on before the trip. I remembered I was bothering the event organizer, Sarah by asking about camping mats and sleeping bags. Thank God, I managed to find everything I need in Kmart and arrived at the meeting point on Saturday morning.

There were 14 of us from different backgrounds, heading to Cherbourg for a single reason. We left Brisbane at 9am and managed to reach Murgon at about 2pm, after a short stop at Kilcoy. As we discussed, I found out more information about Indigenous people and how they were treated back then. We had a short ice breaking activity when we stopped at Kilcoy. We became friends from then on and that meant a lot to me as I have been struggling to make new friends in Australia. Apparently, some of them love singing and managed to entertain us throughout the trip.

When we reached Murgon, we unloaded our bags at the South Burnett PCYC, where we put up for the night. Then we travelled about 10-15 minutes to the Ration Shed Museum at Cherbourg. We had briefing for volunteers for the Fun Run that was happening on Sunday. Fun Run is an annual event of 7km run or walk from Murgon to the Ration Shed Museum at Cherbourg.  The Ration Shed Museum had an extensive timeline that documents the settlements of the Aboriginal people at Cherbourg since the early 1900s. Following the briefing, we had a tour of the museum by an Elder, Uncle Eric. The Elder here refers to someone who has served as a leader to the tribe. All the artifacts were fascinating and Uncle Eric shared many personal stories with us, which made me understand the history of the settlements better than any storybook could have depicted.

When we came back to PCYC for the evening, we cooked our meals and had our dinner together. It turned out that we weren’t the only one staying at PCYC for the day. We had another group of kids with some Elders from Hervey Bay. The Elders shared more stories with us and generously invited us over after dinner to be introduced to some Indigenous songs and welcoming words in the native language. We, then, took a short walk with them. The kids were cute and the Elders shared a lot of their stories from home.



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