Opening Night Jitters
On Friday the 4th of May, the Islamic Museum of
Australia (IMA) officially launched Boundless Plains: The Australian
Muslim Connection. Boundless Plains documents the expedition made by four
young Muslim Australians in 2011. Led by IMA’s Founder Moustafa Fahour,
the group wanted to learn first hand about the Australian-Muslim
connection from the past. City boys at heart, they had no idea what they
would learn or what awaited them as they crossed the vast Australian
continent on the journey of a lifetime.
Their journey resulted in a thirty-minute documentary
and a book containing a beautiful collection of photographs and essays
that provide a history into the world of Australian Muslims, set against
the unique beauty of the Australian landscape.
A replica of Australia's first mosque at Maree, South
The launch took place at the site of the museum in
Thornbury, 10 km from Melbourne’s CBD on a chilly Friday afternoon. On
the day the museum site was buzzing with television crews, reporters,
publicists, and photographers.
We had been planning the launch for the past six
weeks and were thrilled to learn that Yusaf Islam would be in Melbourne working on his
new musical production Moonshadow and had agreed to launch the book and
documentary. We worked hard to transform the aesthetically
unpleasant-looking bottom floor of the old warehouse into an impressive
gallery space to display the photographs the Boundless Plain’s team had
taken on their journey.
3pm on the dot, Yusuf Islam arrived amidst a
frenzied flurry of clicking cameras. Introductions seemed endless, as everyone
wanted to meet the iconic musician. Baby boomers and Generation Y – it made no
A smiling Yusuf Islam engages his
Formalities began with IMA’s founder Moustafa
Fahour and Patron, Mr Ahmed Fahour, welcoming our fifty or so guests. The
atmosphere was informal and personal and everyone spoke from the heart.
In describing their 13,000 km journey from Melbourne to Arnhem
Land and beyond, Moustafa referred to himself and his three ‘amigos’
as modern day Crocodile Dundees – everyone laughed.
When it came time for Yusuf Islam to speak, his words
were simple yet motivational. Education and unity were the front-runners
to harmony, he told us. Then
on a more light-hearted note he revealed that, until seeing the video,
he’d never known that camels existed in Australia! He also announced
that he would lend several of his famous songs as part of the Boundless
Representing Prime Minister Julia Gillard (unable to
attend on the day) was the Hon. Senator Kate Lundy. Senator Lundy
announced that the Federal Government would make a 1.5 million dollar
one-off grant towards the museum’s capital works. You can imagine the
reception this announcement received from the crowd especially from IMA
The big moment arrived to reveal the Boundless Plains
documentary to a new audience. I had butterflies in my stomach… I’d
seen this trailer and the full version close to a hundred times, editing
and re-editing, sending the video back and forth to our videographer. But
now suddenly, with an outside audience ready to watch, I had opening night
The audience was an intimate gathering of
approximately fifty people of mixed backgrounds and professions. Despite
some of the ‘big names’ present there was a sense of informality. Even
Yusuf managed a quick plug for his new show, Moonshadow!
After a slight glitch in the technology department,
the documentary started. I watched the audience … what did they think?
At the end of the showing I had my answer. They loved it! My nervousness
had disappeared and I felt proud knowing that many of our guests left the
event knowing far more about Australian Muslim history than when they’d
arrived. It had all been worthwhile.
** The anticipated date for the opening of the
Islamic Museum of Australia is late 2013.
For book sales, contact: www.islamicmuseum.org.au