Saturday, May 16, 2009

Much more than a colourful truck...


When I went for a walk
in the National park yesterday
I noticed this colourful truck in the car park.

On closer inspection it appears to be:

'a message stick vehicle' ...

I took some shots of it thinking that it would be
a good talking point and open a discussion on
Aboriginal myths and folklore.

But when I opened this morning's local paper
I found a picture of Ian Thorpe -
he of big feet and Olympic swimming records,
adding his hand print to the truck.

I learned that Ian was in Noosa to give support
to a fund raising event to aid Aboriginal communities
and others in South Africa.

Ian Thorpe's Foundation for Youth
is a charitable organization started in 2000,
which seeks to help alleviate poverty
in Aboriginal communities.

This truck is used by a small group of people
to visit aboriginal communities
to learn of the indigenous culture,
to foster the preservation of that rich cultural history
and to build bridges

Ian provided a stunning piece of information:

for every year of education you add to an Aboriginal mother,
you add four years to the life expectancy of her child.

Many of the health problems in the indigenous
population can be attributed to lack of nutrition
and education.

The large snake on the side of the truck
in the photo above is the mythical Rainbow Snake.
A snake of enormous size he lives at the bottom of the deepest
water holes. He is descended from the dark streak in the
milky way and reveals himself as a rainbow as he moves
through water and rain.

A relative of Murray adorns this section of the truck.
Above the dingo footprint is
Evonne Goolagong Cawley's name.

Evonne Goolagong, an indigenous Australian
was a world #1 tennis player winning Wimbledon,
four Australian Opens and
one French Open, in the 1970s and 80s.
She is now an advocate for Aboriginal youth
and runs tennis camps in my area.

In one Aboriginal story Bingingerra, a giant
fresh water turtle,
was chosen to lead the land creatures in battle
against the sea creatures.

The Wandjina are rain and cloud spirits
in Aboriginal mythology.
The spirits are depicted in rock paintings
in human form but without mouths.
It is said that if the spirits were to have mouths
the rain would never cease.

The Wandjina made the sea, the earth and
all of their inhabitants.
If offended these spirits can cause lightning
and flooding.
Their special powers are depicted in the feathers
and lightning shown around their heads.


At the feet of the Wandjina you can see the name :
David Ngoombujarra of the Yamatji people.
David Ngoombujarra more commonly known as Ernie Dingo
starred with Paul Hogan in the movie Crocodile Dundee.

I have since learned about The Message Stick Vehicle from

and here

In the words of the film makers:

This extraordinary journey began in a 1961 Ex-Army Ambulance dubbed ‘The Message Stick’ that was first built for WAR, now rebuilt for PEACE.
After 10 years in the harsh third world communities in the Australian Outback, Michael Butler, Samantha Martin and Michelle White discover their own awareness in promoting the positive aspects of Aboriginal Australia.

They drove out of Sydney heading North with only $300 dollars in their pockets, a digital camera and a passion to learn about the Aboriginal cultures.
‘The Message Stick’ 4WD vehicle became their home and production vehicle, giving them access into the remote communities in the outback.

The vehicle is re-enacting a 50,000 year-old story of traditional message sticks that traveled around Australia on foot by young Aboriginal warriors, this form of communication was used to pass on important news and messages to different language groups. It identifies the bearer and welcomes them on strange land, but instead of a stick this modern day motorized Message Stick vehicle becomes the canvas for Peace and Reconciliation around the World sharing and gathering important messages of the preservation of an Ancient culture.

To watch an inspiring utube clip of the message stick vehicle go here:


The painted truck that I noticed in the car park
is certainly much more than just a colourful truck.

It is an emissary of hope.



  1. Hello Delwyn how have you been today?...yes we need hope for our fellow citizens, I do feel it has been left too long without proper attention..I have the privilege to be around this culture because of my sisters Theater over the last 20 years her husband and her have been working closely together and working on reconciliation traveling with various dance groups overseas,we do see change,good change but it is a very slow process.

    Thank you for shining a bit of positive light on this unique culture.
    xxx Mona

  2. What a great story (and video). Just imagine all the places that message stick has been... Thanks so much for sharing.

  3. Mona, tell me more about your sister's theatre work. It sounds very interesting.
    It is an amazing culture over 50,000 years old!
    and we have a lot to learn....

    I'll write yo an email tomorrow my friend.
    happy Days

  4. Izzy hello there,
    its good to have you join in the chat here,

    The message stick/vehicle is a great concept isn't it...a great way to learn and share and then to bring this knowledge and understanding back to the larger population.
    And there was me just thinking it was a colourful truck...
    Happy days

  5. Great informative post Delwyn - what a fantastic idea! The truck looks great.Thank you for visiting recently and leaving a comment.

  6. As usual, you ply us with information and illustrations. How fascinating! The statistic about aboriginal women's education and the improved life of children is not surprising, merely common sense. I'm sure it's true in subsistence economies all over the world. The question is, why isn't feeding and educating people all over the world more important that war?

  7. Wonderful post, Delwyn, and a truly fascinating topic. I was intrigued to learn more about aboriginal myths and legends...and the paintings on the truck are astounding.

    The motorized 'Message Stick' concept is truly worthwhile and so deeply meaningful. The fate of a people is so hugely dependant on education.

  8. Beautiful post, that there are people and a truck working to build bridges between cultures is a wonderful sign, and your illustrated telling of here is very compelling reading. Thanks for your visits to the Lantern Show and kind comments... I will most certainly be keeping an eye on the Hazy Moon from here on out... but then, I've always been a moon worshipper... so it will come naturally no doubt...

  9. Hi Pam,

    I read that the truck is now going to travel the world...sharing and advocating for poor communities.
    Have a lovely Sunday
    Happy Days

  10. Tessa,
    I'm glad you found the illustrations interesting and I thought that you would relate well to this post.
    Education is paramount isn't it. Financial assistance needs to come with education to these communities. Its 'the show the man how to fish story'...

    Happy Days

  11. Hi Owen,
    Glad you could join us here...

    Thanks for following me so that new doors have been opened up revealing new vistas...
    I'll look forward to our continued sharing,

    Happy Days

  12. Hello Meri,
    I do feel ashamed to know that we have communities experiencing such poverty and deprivation in this abundant country of ours.
    Fortunately this govt is tackling the issues but as the problem has multiple contributing factors it will take time and patience.

    I keep counting my blessings

    Happy Days

  13. stopped by for a peek - thanks again

  14. Jules,
    hello to you
    thanks for saying hi, It's nice to see who comes by,
    Happy Days

  15. Hi Delwyn~ Thanks for stopping by my blog--the best part is now I've found yours. I adore it: the Basho and other Japanese haiku artists' wood cuts on the border, the insight into Australia and its unique assemblage of people. Thank God your aborigines are somewhat surviving, whereas we in the United States mercilessly eliminated our indigenous people. Love the truck! i like the water symbol of the Rainbow Serpent. I think of water as a symbol for the Divine Feminine (fluidity, fecundity), so they merge for me. Best, Margaret

  16. Margaret welcome to my pages,

    thanks for joining in the chat...
    I will write you a note,
    see you again,

    Happy Days

  17. Thanks for sharing these cool Aboriginal arts.
    They are creatively infuse with many fun colours and details!
    It's good to see indigenous Australian to have such a great accomplishment in sport. I am so proud of her.

  18. Yoon see,

    This art is very colourful and energetic - full of life and spirit.

    Evonne Goolagong was also in that video - unveiling the truck (now a woman of about 50).

    Cathy Freeman, an indigenous Au was also an Olympic #1 runner at the Sydney Olympics.

  19. Great article and photos. I posted them on art car central with a link back to you:)
    Thank you!!!

  20. Hi there, I just came across your story about my Message Stick Vehicle, I remember the day Ian Thorpe placed his hands on The Message Stick and we had parked the car to do some press with the local TV stations...

    It has now been 16 years since I re-built the vehicle and now need a home for education and be on display to the world.

    By the way David Ngoombujarra is NOT commonly known as Ernie Dingo! His name is David Ngoombujarra and Ernie Dingo is Ernie Dingo 2 different men...

    If there are any suggestions you can contact me directly on

    Warm regards

    Michael Butlert

    1. thank you Michael for correcting me. My apologies to Ernie and David.


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