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2 July 2003

Gough Whitlam and Evonne Goolagong Cawley will add their handprints to an historic Land Rover painted with indigenous symbols, at the National Museum of Australia's NAIDOC Week launch next Monday.

The 'Message Stick' Land Rover is the centrepiece of the National Museum's week-long celebration of indigenous culture.

The Rover is painted with totemic symbols gathered by documentary maker Michael Butler during a five-year journey across Australia to record contemporary Aboriginal culture.

'Like the National Museum, the Message Stick records the rich stories of Australia,' said National Museum Director Dawn Casey. 'Its panels feature everything from the Rainbow Serpent blessing of Namatjira's grandson Walangari to the handprints of actor Hugo Weaving and Yothu Yindi lead singer Mandawuy Yunupingu.'

The Message Stick will be launched at 10.30am on 7 July and is on display in the Hall until 11 July. Other NAIDOC Week events at the Museum include:

  • Stone tool making workshops with Roy Barker from Lightning Ridge. Roy, whose work features in the new Rare Trades exhibition, will show children how to make their own tools from 7-9 July.
  • Behind-the-scenes indigenous tours with curator David Kaus, leading visitors through the vast collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander objects not currently on display. Free tours at the Mitchell warehouse daily from 7-10 July.
  • Toy making workshops on 8 & 11 July with artist/writer Elaine Russell, who made similar toys growing up on a mission in central western NSW. Elaine will be painting in the Hall on 6 & 12 July and will explain how she wrote and illustrated A is for Aunty in a children's workshop on 13 July.
  • Traditional storytelling by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander storytellers in the Museum's Boab Tree, free at 11am daily from 6-13 July.
  • Dancing demonstrations and workshops by the Gereb Sik Torres Strait Islander troupe on 10 July and the Brindabella Dreamtime Dancers on 9 July.

For public enquiries on events and times, phone 02 6208 5021.

For more media information please contact Public Affairs Director Martin Portus on 02 6208 5351, 0409 916 481 or email

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