Myall Creek Memorial 180th anniversary program:
The four-day program of activities (7-10 June 2018) planned for the 180th anniversary will include:
- Thurs 7 June: a historical exhibition at the Armidale and Region Aboriginal Cultural Centre and Keeping Place about the history of the Myall Creek Memorial;
- Friday 8 June: the Myall Creek and Beyond one-day symposium at the Oorala Aboriginal Centre, UNE exploring the historical, legal and cultural significance of the massacre;
- Friday 8 June: the opening of the contemporary art exhibition Myall Creek and Beyond and an exhibition by Inverell based artist Colin Isaacs at NERAM in Armidale;
- Saturday 9 June: Sounds of the Country concert at the Roxy Theatre in Bingara.
- Sunday 10 June: the Oorala to Myall Creek bus for members of the local Aboriginal Community, UNE students and staff to attend the memorial event.
- Sunday 10 June: the 180th anniversary memorial event at the Myall Creek Memorial near the site of the massacre (near Bingara).
Sunday 10th June the 180th Anniversary of the Myall Creek Massacre
A very special commemoration at the site of the Myall Creek Massacre.was experienced by about 1500 people gathered with descendents of those killed and those who killed j in a grassroots reconciliation movement at the sombre and informative memorial.
Again it raises awareness of the Myall Creek Massacre as a national identity and as a formative reconciliation event. It is now part of our shared history. Michael and I had the alarm on and drove our 20 kms to the meeting place an hour early.
What serenity is this beautiful land. Brown grasses, fields stretching to the hills the amazing trees and the wafting mist.
Unlike Friday with the Symposium where i wrote many notes for this day I arrived back after this amazing day out at the memorial with my mind filled with happiness. Yes happiness and yet we had been at a commemoration of a most violent crime which is being noted as genocide. I think the happiness was because I felt HOPE about being together where people held hands, joined together and walked with determination for the future of our nation.
There were many highlights reading my poem, shared history at this sacred memorial on the ridge overlooking the slope of the massacre and having a great group listening and taking a copy..
My grandson Thomas winning the poetry award for the children competition Thoughts and dreams 180 years on: What have we learnt. I will put his poem up in a few days.
I have no notes for the day.
What caught my eye was a crisp clear winter Sunday morning. with a mist snaking along the river.
What touched my heart was a coming together of many people from all over the country for love and reconciliation
What whispered in my soul We are here standing together and that is amazing
We gathered in a field 20 kms out of Bingara. The CWA had coffee and tea for all and we ordered a lunch. for later. We had a minutes silence and some speeches then set out for a walk of about a kilometre to the site.
There was the welcome to country, the lighting of the fire, a bull roarer ringing out to let the ancestral spirits know we are here, With vibrant dancing and song , clapping sticks and the earthy drone of the didgeridoo, more then 1500 of us singularly filed before the young man holding the fire in a coolamon fanning the eucalypt leaves making the white smoke for our cleansing, there was a woman who signed our foreheads with red ochre and then the walk to each stone along the way where students read the information on the stones and then at the Memorial we gathered.
It took a few hours for this as you can imagine. And at the memorial lots of speeches, singing, readings, and two candles lit . . the red one by the descendent of perpetrators reminding us of the blood brutally shed on this slope and the children came forth and lit the green candle a symbol of hope, healing and new life. Aunty Sue Blacklock a descendent of a survivor of the Myall Creek massacre, and a Kamilaroi elder said it was very emotional on their first few visits to the site more then 25 years ago.
They built a cairn of rocks and reflected on the sorrow of the place.
They placed a red bottle brush on an old rock.
It was a painful place, sad, full of sorrow. many could not go there.
In time when two other descendants of survivors became known they had meetings to make a memorial and then one day a descendant of a perpetrator walked in embraced and asked forgiveness. This memorial was opened in 2000 and victim and perpetrator walked together as one.
On the day of the first public commemoration when they were all gathered with story, music and song ,
Aunty Sue says:
A large number of white cockatoos flew up from nowhere and circled in the sky . My heart was freed. I have no more heaviness in my heart. Their souls were freed that day . Our ancestors souls were set free that day”
A moment of reconciliation when the descendents of the victims and perpetrators stood side by side in solidarity of shared history.
Now each year on this anniversary we come together to rememberand
today we stand here together and it is amazing.
SOME EXTRA EVENTS WE EXPERIENCED
After the Symposium the day wasn’t finished .We drove from the University to NERAM (New England Region Art Gallery and Museum) for the opening of the contemporary art exhibition Myall Creek and Beyond. Here we saw work by many talented artisans, listened to Indigenous Music and sipped champagne.
Of alf the special things I have experienced it was the seeing or more experiencing the possum cloak which took close to 80 hours of work by a gathering of women for the Myall Creek Commemoration.
Two other events that enriched our long weekend was a historical exhibition at the Armidale and Region Aboriginal Cultural Centre and Keeping Place .
and on the Saturday a concert at the Roxy Theatre in Bingara.Sound of the Country.