“St Clair project” to reclaim and recreate their culture and heritage

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).