The National Rugby League 2021 season kicks off this weekend with the All Stars 2021 Campaign. This exhibition match brings together representatives from the NRL and NRLW to proudly represent both Indigenous and Maori cultures on the big stage.
Troy is a proud Gumbaynggirr man from Nambucca heads, with links to Yuin country, Wallaga Lake on his mother’s side and Wiradjuri people from Dunedoo and Wellington on his father’s side.
After watching the Indigenous War Cries performed by the All Stars in 2020, Troy was resolved to carve custom pieces for representatives of the men’s and women’s teams in 2021.
The piece of wood used to make the boomerang for Latrell Mitchell was given to Troy back in 2018 from Uncle Dave, an Elder from Walgett who had received the natural material from another elder in Lightning Ridge.
“I wanted to carve one and gift it to him to use, something he could keep and would be more personal using his own piece; it was 12 months in the making.”
The natural shape of the timber allowed Troy to create a piece to be proud of and he was able to present Latrell with the artefact before he headed into the All Stars camp, providing a fitting close to this yearlong craftsmanship journey.
“I knew this piece of gidgee would make a beautiful boomerang and I have been saving it for something special like this.”
Troy also hand carved a pair of clapsticks for the Women’s Indigenous All Star’s Captain, Tallisha Harden. These clapsticks were carved with mulga, which was cut for him by Uncle Choppy and Uncle Benno during a visit to Brewarrina last September. KARI CEO Casey Ralph was honoured to present Tallisha with these clap sticks during All Stars Week.
“I feel honoured to be in a position to gift these items to Latrell and Tallisha. We have already started discussing some of our options for 2022 and I am really excited about the possibilities of being able to share some more of our beautiful and unique culture.”
Troy’s Carving Journey
Troy began his carving journey back in 2016 in Port Augusta, South Australia and has returned every year, with the exception of 2020.
“This opportunity allowed me to develop new skills and knowledge, along with forging some solid relationships. Both the Nukunu and Adnyamathanha people have been extremely welcoming and accommodating to my every need during my time spent out on country with my mentors and master carvers, Patrick Ferguson and Uncle Roy Coulthard.”
Since beginning his journey, Troy’s trips to South Australia have been life changing for the way he sees and respects Aboriginal culture and country. Some items Troy has carved over the years have been exhibited at the Yurtu Ardla Exhibition in the South Australia Museum in Adelaide.
“I had mixed emotions about the exhibition as I was excited for my carvings to be in the same museum that has the highest number of Aboriginal items in the world then on the other hand, I was still grieving the loss of my father who we only buried the week before it started.”
Every year Troy has returned from these trips with an enriching amount of knowledge and has been able to share what he has learnt with his sons, as well as a number of groups including some NRL clubs.
“Carving is something I would like to be able to do more of; when I carve feel like it soothes my soul and is very therapeutic”.
You can watch this years All Stars matches on 9Gem, Foxtel, Kayo and Sky Sport.
Women’s All Stars Match: 5:40pm AEDT
Men’s All Stars Match: 8:10pm AEDT