Swansea repatriation re-burial site. The site is important to the Bahtabah Local Aboriginal Land Council. It is where several remains from Aboriginal burials in the Swansea area have been repatriated by the Bahtabah LALC. The sandstone headstones, donated by Lake Macquarie Shire Council, have inscriptions of the tribal group names from the Lake Macquarie area on them: Darkinjung, Bahtabah, Worimi, Mindaribba, Nikinbah, Awabakal and Koompahtoo. (NSW Government, 2011, p9).
NAISDA moves to Gosford area. Contemporary Australian Indigenous dance. This new dance form springs from the collaborations of Indigenous Aboriginal dance creators, Western trained choreographers and traditional cultural owners, who come together in performance and workshops. This leads to workshops for young people keen to learn and perform this new dance fusion. This was the genesis of NAISDA Dance College. In 1976 a small group of students from both town and country begin the first formal year-long Careers in Dance training course lead by Carole Johnson an African American. The performance arm of this program became known as the Aboriginal Islander Dance Theatre (AIDT) - a vibrant touring company employing students and graduates of the new Careers in Dance training program. Very soon the theatre group receives invitations to perform at festivals across over the world. The training side evolves into the National Aboriginal and Islander Skills Association – now known as NAISDA Dance College (National Aboriginal and Islander Dance Academy).
During Centenary of Federation activities, the old bridge over Bardenarang Creek near Pitt Town is renamed Friendship Bridge and a sculpture of two hands clasped is unveiled as an act of understanding and in memory of the original meeting between Governor Phillip, Yarramundi and the local Aboriginal people. (Nichols p6)
Wollotuka Institute at The University of Newcastle moves into its new purpose-built headquarters, which is called Birabahn in honour of both the Eagle-hawk totem of the Awabakal and the Awabakal scholar by the same name who worked with Rev Threlkeld on Lake Macquarie during the early 1820s. The building's surrounding native plant landscaped gardens and ponds were constructed by CDEP workers engaged through Yarnteen Aboriginal Corporation. In late-2002, Gibalee, the Indigenous Education Centre on the Ourimbah Campus officially merged with the Wollotuka School of Aboriginal Studies and Indigenous academic activity at The University of Newcastle increased. Wollotuka offers programs across the University's three major campuses: from access, through undergraduate degrees to postgraduate doctoral programs.
An exhibition “Darkinjung Community: Standing Strong” is held at the Gosford Regional Gallery from 20 June to 3 August. The organisers are Umilliko Darkinjung Research Working Group, Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council; researchers Joan Fenton and Kate Cathers; Nerida Blair and Suzi Cole from Umulliko University of Newcastle; Geoff Potter from Gosford Regional Library; Tim Braham, Bev Whyte, Jodi Paulden from Gosford Regional Gallery; artwork/design by Evis Heath, Peter Adderley and Jenny Wardrop.
This exhibition seeks to revise the mistaken official view of history, which states that Aboriginal people in Broken Bay and the surrounding area are “vanquished tribes”, they died out in the first few months of the invasion of their lands. It aims to “bring the dispossessed out of the shadows to recognise that they are part of us”. It speaks of frontier violence and collaboration between early settlers and Aboriginal people. Of collaborative relations, it commemorates the Picketts, Alfred William Morrow Settree, William Cape, the Hendersons and the Mann family. For example, Alfred William Morrow Settree arrives in Brisbane Water with his mother in 1829 when he was about 7 years of age. They occupy Portion 16, Parish of Patonga (Woy Woy Bay). As a boy, Alf swims from the point to the Woy Woy side. He would cross by means of native canoe to Riley’s Island, then to Bedlam (Saratoga) where he would feast on fish and opossum with the Aboriginal boys. The largest blacks camp in the district was at Bedlam.
This exhibition also tells the life stories of early struggles and achievements of Aboriginal people. These include Potory-Minbee (Jack Jones) who was part of a large Aboriginal raid on the home of Alfred Jaques during the 1830s, arrested, stood trial at the Supreme Court in Sydney (where Rev Threlkeld and Birabahn acted as interpreters), and was found guilty. It also focuses on Bungaree’s circumnavigation of Australia with Matthew Flinders, and Margaret and Ned’s battle to hold onto lands granted to them near Swansea.
The exhibition also tells stories of Aboriginal people living and working in “Darkinjung Country” today. “Central Coast” is the fastest growing area of New South Wales. It is also one of the fastest growing Indigenous populations. Some are “relocated” to the area, some choose to move here and some are born here. There are many significant and dynamic Indigenous organisations and people in this community: The Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council (with 700 members), the Eleanor Duncan Medical Centre and Nunyara, Kurriwa Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (AECG). It concludes with present-day cultural regeneration activities – including this exhibition – that seek to build an inclusive sense of place, that recognises a rich and dynamic present-day community based on a rich and dynamic history. (Blair, 2003).
The Wollombi Museum, Wollombi Historical Society and Wollombi Progress Association in consultation with local Aboriginal people erects an official memorial to Darkinjung people in front of the historic Wollombi Courthouse at the centre of the township. It honours past and present-day Darkinjung communities and their relations with allied clans on the Central Coast. It reads: “The Aborigines of the Wollombi were part of the Darkinung tribe which occupied an area from the north side of the Hawkesbury to where the Wollombi Brook joins the Hunter, west of Singleton. The local people spent part of each year on the coast, where they were welcomed by the coastal tribe.
The first white settlers arrived in the district in the 1820-1840 period. There was a relatively low level of violence between the Aborigines and the early white settlers, and in some cases there was friendly co-operation. Diseases brought by the Europeans took a terrible toll.
Aborigines were not allowed to give evidence in court unless they had adopted Christianity.
Some Aborigines worked on the farms of the district until the early part of the twentieth century. However, around 1900 the Aboriginal Protection Board rounded up most of the surviving Aborigines and put them on reserves. Many of those from the Hunter ended up at Purfleet near Taree.
Sun 6 Nov Inaugural gathering (“Reunion”) of Darkinung Families from the Hawkesbury-Hunter Ranges on the Hawkesbury River at Wilberforce on Hawkesbury River near where Governor Phillip first saw groups of these Aborigines. Joan Cooper, youngest daughter of Alfred Everingham from Sackville performs the Opening. Alfred is second son of Madha (Martha who marries Ephraim), her first son, William Onus 1st (born William Hibbs). After his wife Edith Lock b1881 dies, Eva Lock b1885 (then Mrs “Darcy” Webb) becomes his partner, late Aunty Joan (born Alathea Joan Webb) is youngest child born to this second relationship. After marrying Gundungurra Aborigine “Digger” Cooper, Joan becomes prominent among his Katoomba community while retaining strong links with her Darkinjung ancestry. (Ford 279).
“Reunion” is attended by descendants of Aborigines who R.H Mathews recognises in his notebooks as Darkinung people: including John Barber and Mildred Saunders (“Butha") and Mildred’s son’s wife “Mrs Everingham” (“Madha”) and Joe Goobra from Wollombi Brook.
Nov 5 Two members of “Darkijung” language revival group at Wyong on Central Coast attend Reunion. Project conducted by linguist Caroline Jones (UNSW) and language sourced from the Hawkesbury River. Results in book, a project of Many Rivers - Aboriginal Language Centre under auspices of Muurrbay Aboriginal Language and Culture Co-operative, Nambucca Heads. (Ford 304-5)
The estimated population of Aboriginal people on the Central Coast is 7012: 3486 males and 3526 females. This is the fastest growing Aboriginal population in the region. This is marked by a high youth demographic, with almost 40% of the Aboriginal population under 15 years. Only 1% is aged 75 or over. The median age is 19 years. (Darkinjung LALC)
Debbie Barwick founds Mandurah Hunter Indigenous Business Chamber. Based in Rutherford near Maitland, the Chamber strives to assist Aboriginal People to achieve control over their own destiny through the establishment and growth of viable enterprises which create wealth, employment and increased choices. Years later, Debbie establishes and chairs the NSW Indigenous Chamber of Commerce and then works on a national chamber. Mandurah is instrumental in state and federal government policy change. The original corporate logo of a falcon symbolises the spirit of freedom Aboriginal people may achieve through business. It is designed by Chamber member, Les Elvin. (see videos for Debbie Barwick and Les Elvin).
As part of a “St Clair project” to reclaim and recreate their culture and heritage, the Wonnarua community publishes a “salvage grammar and word list” in 2006 and in 2011 commissions the tracing of a family tree beginning with Sarah Waters, born mid-1800s on the Allyn River in the Hunter Valley. It also plans to build for teaching purposes something that probably never existed at St Clair: a corroboree ground. This follows the example set by the Wollombi Corroboree staged by the Wollombi Valley Arts Centre in 1990. Furthermore, Wonnarua intend to replicate the history of the paddock where Tom Phillips grew over 4000 cabbages and create a “songline coming into Wonnarua country”. The latter involves working with the RTA on the Hunter Expressway from Branxton to Kurri Kurry. As compensation for cultural heritage destruction along the way, the RTA will incorporate Aboriginal themes into the design and naming of bridges, rest areas, interchanges and other features. Key members of the community, Laurie Perry, James Miller and John Lester use different words to express their common aspiration: the project is about the teaching of Wonnarua cultural heritage and the teaching of Wonnarua future: “we want to go back and make it an active centre for Wonnarua nation people…[to] pass on culture to our own mob, use it as a meeting place and also move to the future…to create the capacity for us to meet and share culture. (Nolan, We want to do what they do, p53-73).
An Elders Debutante Ball is organised by Mingaletta Corporation. The idea to host a Deb Ball arose because Elders believed they had been precluded from making their debut when coming of age due to financial circumstances and/or social discrimination. It has been a long wait for the Elders, but they all agree that making their debut is like a dream come true for them. The elders take part in the Pride of Erin. This is followed by traditional Aboriginal dancing performed by the Peninsula Indigenous Performing Arts Dance group. The debutantes are Dianne O'Brien, affectionately known as Aunty Di, who was partnered by Uncle Bob Williams; Christine Blakeney, or Aunty Chris, who was partnered by Craig Foreshew; Yvonne Bowden, who was accompanied by her husband Uncle Bob Bowden; Judy Bridges, or Aunty Jude, who was partnered by her son Jason McColl; Betty Bugg, or Aunty Betty, who was partnered by her grandson Nathan Murray; Elaine Chapmen, or Aunty Elaine, who was partnered by Uncle Tex Skuthorpe; Joyce Dukes, or Aunty Joyce, was partnered by Uncle Jack Wilkinson; Barbara Vandenberg, or Aunty Barb, was partnered by her son Brian Vandenberg; Fay D'Louhy, or Aunty Fay, was partnered by James Porter; Trish Stuart, or Aunty Trish, was partnered by Uncle Ray McMinn; and Anita Selwyn, or Aunty Anita, was partnered by her grandson Kye Hodgetts. (see video for Mingaletta director in 2013, Dianne O’Brien)
Death of Cyril Hennessey, founder and coordinator of The Glen Alcohol and Drug Rehabilitation Centre at Chittaway Point (aged 69 years). A memorial stone now stands next to the Men’s Talking Circle, as permanent recognition of Uncle Cyril’s contributions. He is remembered by all he knew and worked with to overcome addiction.
Dec 15 Launch at Newcastle University of Caroline Jones’ book on Darkinyung Grammar and Dictionary. Bronwyn Chambers is Chairman of Darkinyung Language Group. Bronwyn dedicates the book to her father, the late Ron Williams, descendant of “King Molly” (alias Black “Ned”) and “Queen Margaret” (Ford p305).
Bronwyn Chambers’ mother (nee Noakes) is a descendant of Mathews’ Sophie Newman. Recorded at Wollombi as Sophia Johnson, Sophia is married in Wollombi in 1867 to Englishman Edward Newman. They leave the inland ranges at that time to reside on the coast, join the local Aboriginal fishing community (Tuggerah Lakes) and rear their family. 1889 Sophia is widowed and stays with family on the Hawkesbury River where Mathews records her as Sophie Newman. Sophia has 10 children born between 1868 and 1883. Her granddaughter, Edna Gertrude Newman is born 1907 and marries Darcy Sales. Edna is the “Nana” who keeps an open house for Aboriginal people at Wyong. Some of her descendants are associated with Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council, including Bronwyn Chambers (Ford p305-6).
The Fight for Liberty and Freedom is published by Professor John Maynard from Wollotuka at the University of Newcastle. It traces the origins of Australian Aboriginal Activism, especially the establishment of the Australian Aboriginal Progressive Association by his grandfather, Worimi man from Port Stephens, Charles Maynard.
Les Elvin is named Australian Aboriginal Artist of the Year at the annual NAIDOC event. Les is owner and operator of Kungera Art based in Cessnock. He is nationally recognised for his art and for his volunteer work supporting disadvantaged Aboriginal groups to explore their culture through art. Les is also an active founding member of Mandurah Hunter Indigenous Business Chamber.
Michael (Mike) Green of Bahtabah LALC. In his role as coordinator of the Bahtabah Local Aboriginal Land Council, Mike Green (Kamilaroi) conducts tours in the Swansea and Kahibah areas. He helps tourists appreciate the Aboriginal heritage there. There are 2000 sites to see and many of the artefacts are held in the museum at Bahtabah LALC’s office in Blacksmith.
Ken McBride from Bahtabah LALC. Ken has lived in Toronto for 40 years while working for National Parks and Wildlife Service, Koompahtoo LALC as a site officer and Lake Macquarie Council. He draws on recordings by Rev Threlkeld in 1825 to interpret local creation stories for resident and visiting Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. This includes “When the moon cried and formed Moon Lagoon, Belmont” and “Water Monsters” of Freeman’s Waterhole between Lake Macquarie and the Watagan mountains, of Ellalong Swamp near Cessnock and the most significant landmark in Awabakal territory, Mt Sugarloaf (Warrawelong), which has connecting pathways to Hexham Swamp, Lake Macquarie and Wallis Creek. (Pathways across the Hunter, 11-12)
John Mathews and Barry French identify customary pathways from Darkinung lands to “Wonnarua Country”. They trace tracks from Rylstone and Muswellbrook to the Hunter Valley. One pathway from Cudgegong River into the Hunter Valley originates from Nullo Mountain and proceeds across Myrtle Creek into Widden Valley, or via Hunter main into Putty. The other leads down through Growee Gulf to the Goulburn River; from Dunns Swamp, pathways proceed across the Wollombi and down the Putty Road through Howes Valley to Bucketty. Other tracks run from Rylstone through Newnes, across the Colo River to the Putty Road. (Pathways across the Hunter, 15-16)
Paul Gordon, CEO of Yarnteen and its cultural camping complex identifies cultural heritage and pathways across the wider Finchley area. Aboriginal people came from right across the region to attend ceremonies at Finchley’s numerous engraving and art sites. This includes local sites that link with Biame’s cave at Milbrodale and Lizard Rock near Broke. Paul tells of the Legend of the Lizard. Laguna near Wollombi is the birth place of a giant lizard. A yellow rock near Broke is its head and the ridgeline between the two sites is its body.
An unnamed elder tells of pathways leading to and from St Clair Mission. As part of a heritage pathways study for the Hunter Valley region, this elder tells that people whose traditional land encompass the Hunter Valley form a significant proportion of the St Clair Mission population: Darkinung, Wonnarua, Awabakal and Worimi. After the mission closes, some families travel elsewhere while others establish a tin shanty camp on the Singleton Common (the Reddonbery camp) until Housing Commission Houses are built in Singleton many years later. In relation to the Singleton Boys Home, after it closes during 1924, 10 of 46 boys go with the Manager to Brungle. The remainder are taken to Kinchella. Further pathways are forged when the APB places 170 girls into distant work situations and 2,775 pounds in its own trust account from the girls wages. (Pathways across the Hunter, 20)
Jack Smith identifies pathways through Darkinung country. From Mt Yengo, tracks link it to Oombi Oombi near Bourke (Mt Oxley) and Mumbulla Mountain on the south coast. In ancient times, Wa-boo-ee, the demon-spirit of the Wollombi tribe who controlled the seasons, springs from Devil’s Rock to land on Mt Yengo and step up into the sky. Another creation story is associated with the pathways of Tiddalik, a giant frog who lived in the Wollombi Valley and drank more than his share of the Wollombi Brook.
Paul Gordon, Jocelyn Grant and Ann-Maree Lishman found Ngurra Bu (pronounced “nurra ba”) Aboriginal Corporation at Wollombi. It focused solely on teaching Aboriginal and non-Indigenous people and sharing traditional Aboriginal lore and culture, as well as Aboriginal history. Set on 40 hectares of a traditional Aboriginal site in the Lower Hunter Valley, it is used as a basecamp to guide visitors to various lore sites, including rock engravings and cave paintings within the Wollombi and Broke valleys. Within three years, 1500 people visited the camp, including around 1000 visitors celebrating the 20th anniversary performance of the Wollombi Corroboree in October 2012. Senior cultural Officer is Uncle Paul Gordon from north-western New South Wales.
Rebekah McLean completes a bridging course into tertiary studies and is awarded a scholarship by the Wollotuka Institute at the University of Newcastle to complete secondary teaching qualifications. She majors in Aboriginal Studies and Drama, while being a Yorta Yorta tutor at Newcastle High, and tutoring Indigenous students at Cessnock High. Rebekah shares her learning with her mother Suzanne during Sunday walks through the bushland at Kurri Kurri. Suzanne works in Indigenous health care. Suzanne is now considering following Rebekah’s lead and embracing adult education. (see video of Rebekah and Suzanne McLean)
2009-12 The Corporation has developed a Strategic Plan. Further to this plan, the direct descendants know the Wonnarua traditional boundaries, language, lores and customs and will be working together to protect sites and enhance the future of the Wonnarua people.
Application is made to protect Aboriginal land at St Clair through the Indigenous Land Corporation. They buy it and Wonnarua Aboriginal Corporation manage it. It cannot be sols it has a caveat attached. It cannot be mined. A nursery is planned by the Wonnarua Aboriginal Corporation to grow local trees to reclaim bushland. The Biame cave is also protected.
The WNAC differentiates itself from other organisations by way of its Native Title credentials. This status arises from the descendants of Sara Madoo having passed the Federal Court registration test. The membership of the Wonnarua Nation encapsulates this group. The WNAC has 3 arrangements in place under Native Title and is in a position to develop more. This is the special purpose of the Nation as it is something that no other organisation in the Hunter is currently in a position to do. In pursuing this course, the Wonnarua Nation also creates access to funds and will use these funds for the ongoing benefit of its members. Such actions would enable more beneficial programs to be delivered to Wonnarua people and also fund the ongoing operations and growth of the organisation. The new Cultural Reclamation committee must complete the essential and important work required to add integrity to our Native Title position. It is anticipated that funding already applied for may enable this to be funded in earnest and this situation should be clarified in the first quarter of 2010.