The Drumley Walk 2011

23 Aug 2011 1:10 PMSusan Guthrie
The Drumley Walk 2011

Ian Black, owner and guide at Geo-Nature Walks and Tours talks about his recent adventure on the Drumley Walk. 



Having just returned from my second year attending the Drumley Walk, people often ask me, what is the Drumley Walk? 




The Drumley Walk is an annual walking pilgrimage to honour Aboriginal Elders of yesteryear for their resilience and courage to keep living on their traditional lands.


The walk follows the footsteps of Billy Drumley (1853 – 1951) who regularly walked from Beaudesert to Southport, a distance of around 70 kms, to visit his younger sister Jenny Graham and her large family in the 1930s - 1940s.


While the modern Drumley Walk takes four days to complete, Billy would do it in a single day and often return on the following day. He was known as a legend to the local Beaudesert community and in his youth competed successfully in athletics, cricket and boxing.


In the late 1800s, Billy won a thousand pounds in prize money in a foot race at a time when Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders weren’t even paid wages. He was also a master with the broadaxe, a specially shaped axe used to smooth timber and examples of his work can still be seen on properties around the region, as well as at the Tamrookum Church.


At the end of World War 1, Billy used his broadaxe to carve a wooden flagpole that still serves the Anzac Memorial in the main street of town. In 1951, the Beaudesert Times stated, “With the broadaxe he was an artist, and old hands say there has never been a man to touch him”.


Billy encouraged children to be schooled and older children to gain employment, including a young Neville Bonner who lived in Billy’s home and went on to be Australia’s first Aboriginal senator.


In 2012 the Drumley Walk will be held from Friday 4 May – Monday 7 May and will include free performances, exhibitions and other entertainment at the Murri Arts festival in Beaudesert. I will let you all know when a full itinerary has been completed.


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