Home' Army News : November 24th 2011 Contents "
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Army November 24, 2011
SOLDIERS from 9RAR have
taken 37 Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander teenagers on
a five-day 115km trek from
Kilcoy to the Aboriginal commu-
nity of Cherbourg in south-east
The inaugural Commemorative
Walk to Cherbourg retraced the
steps of Aboriginal people who were
forcibly removed from their settle-
ment at Durundur, near Woodford,
to Cherbourg in 1905.
The walk was organised by
Yalari, a not-for-profit organisation
offering high school scholarships to
indigenous children from remote,
rural and regional communities
CO 9RQR Lt-Col Michael Bond
welcomed the opportunity for his
soldiers to be exposed to Aboriginal
culture and history.
"One of the magic aspects of
this experience is that both students
and soldiers were able to walk in
the paths of their forbears, as the
2/9 Bn camped and trained near
Kilcoy before they went to fight the
Japanese in New Guinea in World
In preparation for the walk, the
soldiers met with Aunty Lesley
Williams, an Aboriginal elder who
grew up in Cherbourg, to hear her
personal story and learn about the
mission and its history.
Aunty Lesley asked them to
reflect on the history and jour-
Soldiers take historic steps
ney of the original inhabitants of
Along the way, the soldiers set
up a series of confidence and trust
exercises for the students. Lt-Col
Bond was impressed with the
"I really got to see our lads step
up even further into the instructor/
coach/mentor role. They did so well
and the students loved it," he said.
Towards the end of the walk, the
soldiers presented awards to four
students who had best demonstrated
the Army values of courage, initia-
tive and teamwork. As each name
was read a soldier stepped forward,
ripped the 9RQR patch from his arm
and presented it to the student.
Today Cherbourg is a vibrant
community of about 2000
Aboriginal people with its own cul-
ture and identity. Many turned out
to celebrate the safe arrival of the
"I was not at all surprised by
how our lads stood up to the dif-
ferent challenges, how hard they
worked, how they extended them-
selves out of their comfort zones,
how they respectfully treated every-
one on the walk or the great effect
that they had on the kids," Lt-Col
"What did catch me a bit by sur-
prise was the profound and ongoing
effect that the experience has had on
Yalari founding director
Waverley Stanley said organisers
were equally impressed.
"There was a wonderful sense of
comradeship and friendship with-
in your crew which allowed for an
easy mergence of the two groups,"
"I think that the walk surpassed
all of our expectations and the
memories of some of the students
struggling to finish, determined not
to give up despite aching limbs and
blisters being constantly encouraged
by your men will stay with me for a
More photos and stories from the exercise
are available on 9RQR's Facebook page at
Catch me: The 9RQR soldiers
run confidence and teamwork
exercises with the students.
Carrying on: Pte Nick Hyde, 9RQR, helps a student through a tough day
on the Walk to Cherbourg.
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