As I travel, I look out for the stories and symbols that shape us Aussies. Observers say that during the first few years of our lives as we learn to talk, to read, to share in the common story of our people, we’re quietly absorbing a worldview.
Normally we’re not conscious of it. It’s like the lenses of our glasses, it is not something we look at, but something through which we look in order to see the world. On the road to Gundagai, I discovered a faithful hound, a popular song and an inspirational sculptor that had all played a part in telling us about ourselves.
The scene is a small house set between the sea and the Australian bush. Picture a lone man wrestling in prayer between tall, white gumtrees in the moonlight. It’s 1953 and the country is just beginning to recover from the battering of war. The forty-two-year-old Methodist minister’s name is Alan Walker and he’s full of fear at setting out on a nation-wide mission. His convict ancestor had arrived in Botany Bay in 1810 and 20 years later, through the preaching of a travelling Methodist, his alcoholic son John decided to follow Jesus and began preaching in the Windsor district with powerful effect.
And now his great-great grandson Alan - the thirteenth evangelist from that line – is praying for strength. A sudden rustling of the gum leaves in the night-wind made his spirit soar. A vivid image of Jesus challenging Rabbi Nicodemus to allow the wind of the Holy Spirit to flow through his life, gave the shrinking preacher the courage he needed to undertake the preaching ministry to his native country, half a world away from Israel.
His preaching had a powerful effect – just as his great-great grandfather John Walker’s had in Windsor 150 years previously. Decades later, Labor parliamentarian Bill Hayden dubbed Alan Walker, ‘The Conscience of the Nation.’ Others called him ‘Mr Methodist.’ What did that mean?
Join The Outback Historian, Paul Roe, on an unforgettable journey into Australia's Past as he follows the footprints of the Master Storyteller and uncovers unknown treasures of the nation.