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    SPECIAL OCCASION: Uncle Ron Marks and artist Kenita-Lee McCartney, centre, with Laharum’s senior footballers ahead of the first Battle of the Rocks match.

Indigenous culture celebration at Laharum

By Colin MacGillivray

The majestic Grampians/Gariwerd landscape provided a fitting backdrop as Laharum and Natimuk footballers and netballers recognised the contributions of Aboriginal people to both sports on Saturday.

The Horsham District Football Netball League clubs faced off in the inaugural Battle of the Rocks – a celebration of Indigenous culture conceived by Laharum.

The Battle of the Rocks emphasises two landscapes with cultural significance to local Aboriginal groups – Grampians/Gariwerd at Laharum and Mount Arapiles/Dyuritte near Natimuk.

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Laharum secretary Rowena Doyle, who helped establish the game, said the club engaged Indigenous artists to design football and netball uniforms, a perpetual trophy and most-valuable-player medals.

Wergaia and Dja Dja Wurrung elder Uncle Ron Marks performed a welcome to country ceremony and addressed players.

Wotjiboluk, Wemba Wemba, Wiradjuri, Nari Nari and Boon Wurrung woman Kenita-Lee McCartney provided the design for Laharum’s uniforms, which Ms Doyle said looked ‘fantastic’.

“They all lined up for the welcome to country ceremony, and my breath caught in my throat a bit to see how fantastic they all looked with their jumpers,” she said.

“We wanted to find a traditional owner from the Wotjobaluk people of our area.

“Jillian Pearce at Barengi Gadjin Land Council helped me all the way. She helped me write the expression of interest, she put it out to Indigenous artists and we were lucky to get a couple who put their hands up to say they were interested.

“Kenita-Lee had some beautiful designs that we wanted to get transferred onto the jumpers and dresses.

“She gifted us the artwork that was used as the basis of the design. That was a beautiful gesture on her part, and it will have pride of place in our clubrooms.”

Natimuk United president Shane Glascott said he hoped the match, which his club will host next year, would become one of the biggest on the Horsham District league calendar.

“Indigenous round has taken a lot of significance in the AFL and I thought it was a great idea to do something locally,” he said. “We have a couple of Aboriginal players who play for us, and Laharum do as well, so I think it’s a great thing to support.

“We’re looking forward to putting it on next year and we hope it keeps growing bigger.”

Laharum was victorious in both the A Grade netball and senior football, with Liv Jones-Story and Robbie Miller awarded respective MVP medals designed by Horsham’s Imigo Dawn.


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