One of the craziest things we do every year is pile a bunch of teenagers and youth workers into a bus and go bush. Things have changed a little since we first started travelling all the way to Uluru back in 2001, but our objective hasn’t: Know the past. Change the future.
A pilgrimage is a journey of internal significance. While tourists pick up their cameras and travel through a place, taking pictures and souvenirs as they go, pilgrims allow the heart of that place to travel through them, changing them.
Pilgrimage is all about learning from our history in order for our shared future to look different.
Next Pilgrimage: 2023
So what's it all about
Fusion’s Pilgrimage began over 20 years ago when we were invited by members of the Mutitjulu community at Uluru to bring our young people from the city to meet with their young people in the desert, to learn together.
Though it’s been a few years since we were able to visit our friends at Uluru, the Pilgrimage remains a profound opportunity for young people from the city to learn about Aboriginal history and culture from Aboriginal people on traditional lands. Recent Pilgrimages have included learning from local people on Wongi, Ngadju and Mineng Noongar country.
“You get the chance to connect with many communities and are made to feel part of one – I cannot express how special that feels!”
What's actually involved?
Every Pilgrimage looks different, depending on our local partners, but there’s one thing that’s consistent – our pilgrims want to listen and learn. There’s usually a fair amount of travel, camping, walking, listening and teaching involved and we ask that our pilgrims come prepared to learn more than just the stories covered by the school curriculum. We come prepared to discuss complex and often painful topics and to hear truth-telling first hand from those who are able to share it.
Those who sign up do so with a commitment to tread lightly and respectfully and to have their understanding stretched. As well as being prepared to meet new people, try new things and probably not get enough sleep!
“I set out to learn bout Aboriginal culture, make friends and have fun – not only did I do all that, but I got to do so much more. It really changes how you view everything. It’s so beautiful and it’s hard, but worth it in the end” – Mikhayla, 15
What sorts of things do you learn?
Pilgrimage is about letting the heart of a place speak to you and allowing yourself to see things differently. Here are some of the key ways we learn together during a Pilgrimage:
- We visit different communities and learn about what life is like for others through the stories we hear and the relationships we build
- We learn to see each other differently as we spend time together in community and work through our challenges and differences
- We learn to see ourselves differently as we face new and difficult experiences and try new things, sometimes well outside of our comfort zone. More often than not, our pilgrims learn that they’re able to do something they never thought they’d be able to do!
- We learn more about Australia’s complex, turbulent history; hear stories from Aboriginal leaders and teachers; and explore some of the attitudes and injustices that exist in our world today, especially those faced by First Nations people
“I’m really happy that everyone on this trip has just accepted each other and treated each other like family and that has been one of the greatest things I’ve experienced in my whole life” – Participant
“I feel like a different person on this trip and I like this person and when I get home I hope I can still be this person.” – Libby, 14
“I’ve learnt a lot about Indigenous people and their culture. I’ve also learnt a lot about myself. I’ve grown in respect and understanding of the country I live in and for the people surrounding me. You learn so much about Aboriginal culture and people, others in the bus and yourself. You find yourself in learning about the past, you see the most amazing sites that cannot be experienced looking at a photo, you will feel things you might never have experienced before. But you have to go on the trip to truly understand and feel how spectacular and how special it is to be there, at Uluru, and to be able to touch Uluru. It is unbelievably amazing! I feel that this trip has changed the meaning of relationships for me. I will treasure how important relationships can be.” – Kaitlyn, 16
“Just do it. It’s a great experience – it could change your life” – Travis, 14
“Going on the first trip to Kalgoorlie, Southern Cross, and Norseman, I realised how each perspective is different, but all show the same underlying damage, caused by generations of trauma. Realising this made me want to hear these different perspectives and made me want to learn about the things that happened in different regions of the south west. Going on a Pilgrimage is a real eye opener to the ongoing effects that Aboriginal people are still feeling, its this realisation that I feel most people don’t tend to forget.” – Devlin, 15