The Star of Taroom.
The Star of Taroom.

Indigenous artefact to make 500km journey home to CQ

Forty-five years ago, a country vet working on Bethany Station, a cattle property in eastern Central Queensland, removed a large sandstone rock from the land.

He laid the 100kg artefact in his truck and brought it to his backyard in suburban Enoggera in Brisbane, where it has remained since.

That man's son, Johnny Danalis, is determined to have that changed in accordance with his father's dying wish.

After more than a year of researching and planning, he and a group of friends and volunteers will spend three weeks pushing the Star of Taroom 500km from Brisbane to its original home.

Its arrival will mark the opening of the Wardingarri Keeping Place at the Taroom Historical Society, a presentation of Iman history and culture.

The walk begins on July 3 and will coincide with NAIDOC Week 2021.

It aims to raise awareness about the return of cultural property and ancestral remains to Indigenous land from private and institutional collections, both in Australia and abroad.

With the Star atop a handcart, the travellers will walk the forest trails to Lake Manchester and cross the Brisbane River towards Fernvale, where they will begin a 10-day journey terminating at Wondai by following the rail line through Jinibara and Wakka Wakka Country.

From there, they will drive to Cherbourg and walk the back roads through Allies Creek, Sujeewong, and Cockatoo to spend their final night at Bundalla Station before the final 11km stretch to Taroom.

About 100 people were expected on any particular leg of the journey and will be staying in budget accommodation or camping overnight.

The cart, to be modified, that will carry the Star from Brisbane to Taroom.
The cart, to be modified, that will carry the Star from Brisbane to Taroom.

Iman Elder Uncle Stuart White said that the Star would have originally been a grinding stone, marking stone, or boundary stone, and it was "just great" that it would be returned.

"It was taken off our country in the early days," he said.

"People were working that country and they took it away without really knowing the implication of it.

"We thought they might bring it back in a truck or something like that, but here they are - they're going to walk it all these miles.

"This year's NAIDOC theme is healing, and I think this'll be part of the healing."

Mr White said there were 900 members "and growing" of the Wardingarri Aboriginal Corporation, of which he is the director.

Glenys Shearer from the Taroom Historical Society said the repatriation of the stone would benefit the town and Australia.

"This could only be good for Taroom because Taroom has such a history," she said.

"This could only mean bringing everyone together - not just for our community, but for our nation.

"It needed to come home. It needed to be back on Country."

She said the Wardingarri Keeping Place would "tell the story of the Iman people with artefacts from around Iman Country".

Those interested in volunteering for the walk may apply online.