The path to Australia’s future passes through its past.
Come with us on this, our incredible, shared journey ….
… a strikingly beautiful, iconic Indigenous Cultural and Educational Centre in the landscaped ‘cultural precinct’ setting as a visible demonstration of reconciliation adjacent to the memorial site of the massacre of Aboriginal people at Myall Creek in 1838.
… learning of the hundreds of massacres in the frontier wars across Australia.
… being inspired by those from Governor to convict who just this once in our history courageously ensured justice was done.
… being in a place of healing, and so becoming a place of vibrant cultural expression that brings all Australians together as one.
In 2008 in his apology to the Stolen Generations then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd spoke of “the real possibility of reconciliation writ large: … reconciliation across the entire history of the often bloody encounter between those who emerged from the Dreamtime a thousand generations ago and those who … came across the seas only yesterday.”To have true reconciliation all Australians should be aware of the past massacres that occurred. This had led to the formation of a Joint Select Committee to work on constitutional recognition of the First Australians.
Respected elder, Patrick Dodson, points out that, “Recognition of the First Peoples in the Constitution of a country starts to send a message that you are valued, are important, that we want to respect you, and we want to deal with the things that have caused us division and discord in the past.”
The Myall Creek Cultural and Education Centre will provide information not only about the massacres of the past but also about the people, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, who stood up against the perpetrators and sought justice.
Work on the wording for constitutional recognition is now in progress and has bipartisan support. In regard to constitutional recognition Deputy Leader of the Nationals Barnaby Joyce has stated, “I think that we have a duty to do the right thing. So I’m encouraging you, as a person, who you know is pretty conservative, to try and move yourself to the position where we move this nation forward as one nation…’Cause if we get to a referendum as a nation as one people we can do something that is good and do something that is decent and so something that is right.”
The Myall Creek Cultural and Education Centre will have as its goal the reconciliation that is needed to ‘move this nation forward as one nation’, and which provides the setting for a shared cultural expression and development.
From a shared dream to a shared reality – a world first
Despite the systemic nature of colonial conflict, violence and dispossession of first nation peoples globally, there is as yet no facility commemorating this history and providing year-round reconciliation, education and cultural programs.
It seems that building the bridge to close the gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples and cultures is as new for Australians as it is for the rest of the world.
Yet programs similar to these do exist to respect, remember and learn from – War (memorials), Apartheid (museums), Holocaust (centres) and Genocide (universities).
This Centre will be the first of its kind. Not only in Australia but in the world, a unique facility of national significance and international importance as a recognised example of reconciliation and healing and the explosion of cultural expression that has been occuring.
In the beginning…
On the 10th June, 1838, armed stockmen rode onto Myall Creek Station outside Bingara in north-west New South Wales and massacred 28 Wirrayaraay men, women and children of the Gamilaroi nation. Such massacres were widespread and continued, often unreported, into the twentieth century.
However, the trial that followed on from the Myall Creek massacre resulted in an extraordinary outcome. For the first time in Australian history white men were brought to justice for the murder of Aboriginal people.
A precedent had been set – that was never repeated.
On the 10th June, 2000, the Myall Creek Memorial Committee dedicated a memorial commemorating the massacre of 162 years before. On that day, descendants of both the perpetrators and victims met and embraced in a poignant and meaningful act of reconciliation.The Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people, who erected the memorial, were motivated by a sense of justice and a conviction that we must acknowledge the truth of our shared history, if we are to achieve reconciliation between our peoples in Australia.
Thousands of people have visited the memorial since that time, with many writing about their gratitude and the profound effect, which the memorial has had on their understanding and attitudes.
The memorial site has achieved both national and state heritage listings.
It is a testimony to the true history of Australia.
Our vision …
To obtain funding to build a unique cultural and educational centre, where those who come will:
- Learn the truth of the Myall Creek massacre and the court trials that followed. They will learn about those so outraged by the massacre that they reported it, investigated the facts and brought to justice some of the perpetrators, actions that affirmed the recognition of race equality under British law at the time (an equality continually flouted in practice thereafter).
- Understand that massacres of Indigenous people continued across Australia for a further century
- Gain an appreciation of the impact of this shared history on Aboriginal people and their culture and on life in Australia over the last 226 years of our shared history until now.
- A commitment to reconciliation: understanding and acknowledging the past and present injustices between Aboriginal and other Australians and to strive for a just reconciliation between all Australians.
- Witness Aboriginal culture in the now, drawing on the past, and offering the opportunity for sharing of cultures together.
This vision involves three stages:
The Myall Creek Cultural Precinct
The Myall Creek Cultural Precinct is Stage 2 of a 3 stage plan culminating in the construction of a Cultural Centre associated with the national and state heritage listed Myall Creek Memorial in close proximity to the massacre site of 1838.
Stage 1 – the Memorial – already exists and is testimony to both a tragic past and a place of astonishing healing.
Stages 2 & 3 will enable Aboriginal people to reclaim and transform a place of genocide into a place celebrating Aboriginal culture, both traditional and contemporary.
Stage 2 will:·
- Provide a culturally appropriate outdoor performance space and meeting place for dance, drama and storytelling, introducing the many school groups and general public visiting the precinct to Aboriginal culture, and enable Aboriginal students and local performers to learn and create performances with their elders.
- Replant Indigenous vegetation, including a ‘bush food’ garden, preserving traditional foods and medicines informing the connection between culture, land and farming practice.· Commission public artworks representative of the cultural explosion generated by the healing that has taken place at Myall Creek.
- Outdoor artwork will demonstrate how art can generate a spirit of reconciliation.
- Provide supporting infrastructure of bus/car park bays and amenities for visitors to the site
Myall Creek can be seen as the spiritual heart of the Australian nation. The meaning of colonisation: the scarification of trust, the mortification of innocence and the violence of greed – the Cultural and Education Centre this reality will sit side by side with the continuing miracle of the oldest living culture on earth, its survival and its ongoing resilience.
How it will work …
The Friends of Myall Creek Memorial (FMCM), which is made up of an equal number of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people, plans to erect a building of exemplary and striking design, comprised of a number of functional spaces under a very large copper roof shaped in the form of a Rainbow Serpent –the Aboriginal Creator Spirit.
The building has been designed by Sydney architect Tim Shellshear and local artist Colin Isaacs, with input from members of the Committee and the wider community.
The Centre’s content will guide you through four themes:
- Myall Creek – the story of Myall Creek and its significance in Australia’s history.
- Contact – the story of the impact of white contact history throughout Australia resulting in breakdown of traditional culture.
- Culture – the story of the local Aboriginal people, including traditional and contemporary culture and stories.
- Reconciliation – the story of the Reconciliation movement and what it means to wider Australian society.
Visitors will be able to experience these insights through all of their senses, their emotions, as well as their intellects …. Being informed and engaged by interactive technologies, oral histories, photographs, amazing displays and custodial artefacts.
The Centre will also have strong public cultural programs engaging visitors and school groups with local Aboriginal communities.
Local support …
In planning the Education and Cultural centre, the FMCM has received very strong affirmation, encouragement and assurances of cooperation from local government, educators, and regional business and industry development groups in Northern NSW.
The Centre will advance four of the six Regional Development Australia Northern Inland (RDANI) priorities – namely outcomes in Aboriginal reconciliation and health through its emphasis on profoundly socially inclusive practices, as well as increased community regeneration and economic diversification.
Strategically situated, the Centre, like the adjacent memorial, is central to major regional hubs such as Tamworth, Armidale, Inverell, Moree and Narrabri. It is located on Fossickers’ Way, a route frequented by tourists travelling north from Victoria, Albury, Wagga and Dubbo, as well as being approximately halfway between Sydney and Brisbane.
Busloads of students throughout the region already visit the memorial. Many hundreds of tourists sign the visitors’ book each year. Hundreds come each year to the Massacre commemoration held on the second Sunday in June. With the erection of the Education and Cultural Centre, the FMCM is assured by education planners and tourism promoters that there will be a marked increase in the numbers of students and other visitors. Myall Creek is a part of the NSW Board of Studies curriculum and as such will contribute to the increased number of visitors.
Creation of the Centre and year-round reconciliation programs are conservatively projected to triple annual visitation to 10 – 15,000 people. This will create an economic impact for the district of $10-20m during the first five years of operations.
International tourism interest in Aboriginal history and culture represents a significant 13% of all visitors. This segment on average stays longer (20% of visitor nights) and spends more (19% of expenditure) than general tourists (Tourism Research Australia 2011). Culture-based tourists are significantly more likely to travel and stay in regional areas (31%).
Education and tourism markets will be most significant for the centre. A $10million Foundation is being established to develop and deliver the year-round programs for these markets. Increased visitor spending will also encourage economic diversification. From the outset increased visitation in the area will have synergy with the two other new and nationally significant facilities in Bingara – The Living Classroom regenerative farming education facility; and the Roxy Theatre & Café Complex, a fully-restored tribute to the influence of Greek migrants throughout rural Australia.
The FMCM enjoys and is promised the full cooperation of the Gwydir Shire Council in the development and administration of the Centre. The Centre will provide local employment, requiring full and/or part-time indigenous staff, including
- On-site management.
- A curator.
- An educator.
- An accountant.
- A retail manager.
Additional employment will be offered within the Centre’s reconciliation and education programs, as well as through increased tourism and economic diversification.
How you can help …
Edmund Burke once said that “Evil prevails when good men do nothing.”
In the case of the Myall Creek massacre, good people suffered ridicule and retribution to make the truth known and in so doing changed the way we know our history.
You too can be part of changing history and help us to create an amazing space that will inform and educate future generations of the atrocities of the past and the promise of unity.
The FMCM is seeking financial support from all levels of Government, community organisations, private corporations and interested philanthropists for the construction and equipping of the Education and Cultural Centre.
The challenge is significant but exciting with capital works estimated at $7.4million and the establishment of a Capital Preservation Fund of $10million to cover recurrent expenditure into perpetuity. Detailed estimates are included in the Business Plan available at :
Bottom line …we need you …and your support!
The contributions of all major donors will be publicly and visually acknowledged.
Promotion video https://vimeo.com/220926163/0089f5754c
Please address all your enquiries to:
Co-chair of the Myall Creek Memorial Committee
0475 838 144 / (02) 9446 5715
For any additional information on Myall Creek, please visit our website: www.myallcreek.org
We look forward to your joining us.
Ngiyani winangay ganunga
We remember them.