DIDGERIDOO WORKSHOPS: Alex Murchison with students and teachers from Eidsvold State School participating in his workshop. Picture: Contributed
DIDGERIDOO WORKSHOPS: Alex Murchison with students and teachers from Eidsvold State School participating in his workshop. Picture: Contributed

Didgeridoo maker endeavours to set ‘foundation’ to learn

A DIDGERIDOO facilitator has responded to criticism about the manual arts program he brings to schools across Australia.

Didgeridoo player, tutor and maker Alex Murchison created the Didge in a Day program back in 2006 as a way teach his craft to children across Australia.

Mr Murchison travels from NSW to deliver these programs, venturing to regional towns such as Eidsvold in the North Burnett to teach.

His program mainly focuses on the manual arts side of didgeridoo making, with schools providing Indigenous educators to compliment the workshop.

Recently after some recent backlash on Facebook, Mr Murchison elaborated on his background and working with local Indigenous tribes in NSW.

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“A bit over 20 years now, my brother and I were encouraged by the local mob to go bush and find some blanks and make some didges and sell them at the upcoming 2000 Olympic Games,” he said.

“At that time we were both living down in far south NSW, and had the help and support of some elders from the south coast Yuin mob, part of the Black Duck Tribe.”

Even though they never got to the Olympics, their passion for woodwork ignited, which saw him create didgeridoos and a curriculum with the help of the Yuin elders.

While teaching the Indigenous instrument in Canberra in the 2000s, he was encouraged to bring his teachings interstate, and began travelling to schools to teach students the art of making their own didgeridoo out of termite hollowed trees.

“What I do is not a cultural workshop, what I do is a woodworking workshop which allows for other people who are qualified in the cultural area to add their layers to that afterwards.

“My workshop is a foundation, or a catalyst for students to learn about Indigenous culture.”

Eidsvold P-12 State School's Yumbin Program was the winner of the education category in the 2020 Queensland Reconciliation Awards. Picture: Contributed
Eidsvold P-12 State School's Yumbin Program was the winner of the education category in the 2020 Queensland Reconciliation Awards. Picture: Contributed

Mr Murchison said he has frequently notified willing schools that he is non-Indigenous, and strives to have an indigenous representative alongside him at each workshop.

When he came to Eidsvold in the past two years, Mr Murchison worked alongside Indigenous staff members to create 10 didgeridoos in one day.

Mr Murchison praised his time in the North Burnett, saying the tight knit community in Eidsvold was something special.

“Everyone there supports one another, and it’s just excellent to see regional communities stay strong and connected,” he said.

Eidsvold State School was recently awarded the winner of the education category in the State Government’s 2020 Queensland Reconciliation Awards for its ‘Yumbin’ wellbeing program.

They were even on Channel 10’s Totally Wild television show in late 2019, where the Yumbin program and Mr Murchinson’s didgeridoo program had their own segments.

IT'S TOTALLY WILD: Channel 10's Totally Wild crew visited Eidsvold in the school holidays to film some groundbreaking initiatives at the school. Picture: Contributed.
IT'S TOTALLY WILD: Channel 10's Totally Wild crew visited Eidsvold in the school holidays to film some groundbreaking initiatives at the school. Picture: Contributed.

For Mr Murchinson, he sees the didgeridoo as a connection point from which people can be lifted, and strengthened with courage.

“Because I do not teach the culture, am not Indigenous, and do not teach the art, I use the Didge in a Day program as the starting point or entering wedge to begin a greater journey with the didgeridoo,” Mr Murchinson said.

“This is where other cultural layers can be added by others who are qualified in these areas as desired.

“This often starts a journey for them that allows for cultural activities, and even helps to promote Indigenous cultural and business where it otherwise may not have started.”