The Guardian May 16, 2001


Myall Creek Massacre Memorial

by Bar Finch

About a dozen Armidale people went over to Myall Creek to join nearly 200 
others from across the region at a ceremony to unveil further plaques at 
the memorial, and to hear an address by Linda Burney, Director-General of 
the NSW Department of Aboriginal Affairs.

Outside the Myall Creek Hall the Nucoorilma Ngarabul Dancers, a group from 
Inverell led by Scott Griffiths, delighted the crowd with some traditional 
dances.

After a greeting dance, the children showed us a mosquito dance, the 
kangaroo, and a honey ant dance. Then we walked up the road to the memorial 
site.

A plaque was unveiled to the memory of Len Payne, a Bingara resident who, 
from 1965 until his death in 1993, had tried to have a memorial erected in 
memory of those who died.

On display at the community hall were press clippings from the "Bingara 
Advocate" in the "60s, fiercely opposing any recognition of the massacre, 
and suggesting that it should be completely forgotten and not marked in any 
way. This remained a prevailing view until a reconciliation conference in 
1998 decided to erect a permanent memorial.

In 1888 the skull of an Aboriginal woman had been taken from the Myall 
Creek area as a specimen for study, and became part of the Edinburgh 
collection in Scotland.

This had recently been returned to the Moree Land Council for proper burial 
rites, and was buried at sunrise on February 17, and the memorial stone and 
plaque were unveiled at the gathering later that day.

Then, walking through the smoke of burning gum leaves, we moved along the 
winding Memorial Walkway, pausing at the seven plaques, and assembled in 
front of the Memorial Rock, where two candles were lit  a red one in 
memory of the bloodshed, and a green one for hope and reconciliation.

Ms Burney said she felt that the day would come when every single 
Australian would recognise that, as the oldest surviving culture on the 
planet, our Aboriginal heritage is the jewel of Australia and a treasure 
that all Australians can enjoy.

She went on to say that reconciliation is about two handfulls  one is the 
bringing of peace and harmony, and the other is social justice and decency.

As an example of the work ahead she pointed to recent NSW figures showing 
that 40 percent of all youth in custody are Koories, and of those under 15 
years, 58 per cent are Koories.

She asked us to consider: "What will be the effect as these young people 
become adults and parents?

"This is an intolerable situation  as intolerable as this massacre. In 
this Federation year we need to keep the good fight going, and to remember 
that the prosperity of Australia has been at great cost to Aboriginal 
people."

The Myall Creek Memorial is located on the Whitlow Road, just off the 
Delungra-Bingara Road, on the Bingara side of the Myall Creek. There is a 
car park, picnic table and toilet near the road, and the Memorial Walkway 
winds for 500 metres to the Memorial Rock.

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Acknowledgements: ANTaR newsletter, March 2001.

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