Link Up moves its office to Blue Mountains.

Corroborees are held at Wollombi, and Newcastle University by Gooris who have embraced traditional law to take up responsibilities as traditional custodians in the region.

On 22 September Aboriginal people stage a Corroboree of Thanks in Wollombi. This symbolic gesture of reconciliation between the Wollombi Valley community and the Aboriginal community marks a special moment in the restoration of pride and goodwill for all involved. Support of Aboriginal land claims in the district was widespread throughout the preceding months and this coming together of peoples helped foster the spirit of reconciliation in the broader population. Representing a number of different tribal groups across New South Wales, men perform traditional dances in what is probably the first public display of its kind held in the lower Hunter in more than 170 years. The Selwood family host the event and prepare the corroboree ground for thousands of people. The day begins with a historic raising of the Aboriginal flag at Wollombi. Three tribal custodians from northern New South Wales attend: Uncles Mangie (Alfred) Drew (77 years), Lennie de Silva (76 years) and Leeton Smith (71 years).

October 12. Dancers transform the Great Hall at The University of Newcastle into a corroboree ground. The one-hour performance moved the audience of 2,500 people. Organised by the Hunter Region Aboriginal Mens Council, the corroboree brings together around 20 performers from around NSW. Eight Aboriginal women perform a welcoming dance and a reaping dance. The performance by men depicts the ways of Aboriginal forebears through 17 traditional dances (involving brolgas, frill-necked lizards, kangaroos and goannas), two songs and practices including breaking spears, exorcising ghosts and chasing away wrongdoers. Tribal custodians from northern NSW attending are Uncle Lennie de Silva (76 years), Uncle Leeton Smith (71 years) and Uncle Mangie (Alfred) Drew (77 years).

The Corroboree is held in conjunction with an exhibition of Goorie art and artefacts, which attracts 700 visitors. This runs in the Great Hall for four days and is jointly arranged by the University’s Art Advisory Group, the Awabakal Aboriginal Co-operative and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission. It is supported by Wollutuka Education Centre, AIATSIS, the University of New South Wales.

Both the corroboree and exhibition are part of a program of reviving the teaching of Aboriginal lore by several groups. They includes the Newcastle Awabakal Aboriginal Cooperative. Bill Smith advises that to date 22 males had undergone traditional manhood ceremonies and had become custodians of land and culture. Knowledge is being passed by their tribal elders to them. This renewed interest in Aboriginal culture is helding rebuild dignity and respect both towards and between local Aboriginal peoples.

Descendants of the ancestral Wannungine people adopt John Fraser’s (Scottish teacher who recovered Threlkeld’s language records) term “Awabakal” for “Sugarloaf” tribe and “Guringai” for “Broken Bay” tribe. (Ford)

Article published “Worimis to preserve and record history” by Jenny Hawke.


Ned Manning Writes a play about removed children: Close to the Bone. Eora Centre for Visual and Performing Arts. Sydney. Currency Press 1994. This play about the stolen generation toured to Newcastle and Taree.

Final Report of Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths In Custody.

Reconciliation Council established by Australian Government.

June. Yarnteen is incorporated. The leadership of the Awabakal Co-op stays closely involved in mentoring the early development of Yarnteen and its emerging leadership. This process of mentoring and incubation is a signature feature of Yarnteen’s development. There is always a strong focus on economic development at the heart of Yarnteen’s operations. It seek to provide an economic role model for the wider Indigenous community. Paul Gordon (who arrives in Newcastle from Brewarrina during the 1970s) becomes CEO of Yarnteen College and also sets up cultural camps to teach Aboriginal youth about culture, their culture. (Gordon, in Pathways across the Hunter 2011 p17-29; Smith, The Business of Governing, c2012).


Uncle Lennie de Silva of the Gumbaynggir people is awarded an honorary doctorate from Newcastle University in recognition of his scholarship in traditional law.

June 3. High Court, Mabo Decision. The High Court of Australia changes the nation’s common law when it brought down its decision in Mabo and Others v the State of Queensland. In upholding the claims of the plaintiffs, from Murray Island in the Torres Strait, the Court held that Australia was not terra nullius (‘land belonging to no one’) when settled by the British in 1788, but occupied by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, who had their own laws and customs, and whose ‘native title’ to land survived the Crown’s annexation of Australia.


The writer, Stuart Rintoul interviews many Aboriginal people for his book “The Wailing- a National Black oral History”. He recorded Amos Donovan at Wauhope Bunyah Lands Council. “I was eight when I started school. We lived at Greenhills near Kempsey. There were a lot of tin humpies. Grandfather had a 99 year lease on a block down the bottom of what they called the “Mission”. But it was never a mission at Greenhills, there was just old people there. Grandfather used to cut sleepers and girders in the bush and Dad used to go out. He had an old truck and he used to cart sleepers… Grandfather Steve Donovan, he educated himself. He used to go to night school and learn about the law….My great-grandfather on Dad’s side could speak the lingo. He used to drive a bullock team out at Rollands Plains Mission. Paddy Donoghue was his name… I asked him one time to teach me how to speak the lingo. He said our tongues were too thick and we had too much European ways in us and it was a very hard language to speak…I suppose it would have been the Biripai language… They’d call you ’nigger’ on the street sometimes and they wouldn’t let us swim in the pool, not unless you went to school and it was Wednesday sports day. We didn’t worry, us kids. We thought that running water was cleaner. We used to swim the river, get a couple of cobs of corn and come back the other side and cook them up… My uncles and aunty’s children (were taken away). They were sent away just down the other side of Grafton. I think there were five of them…But when the Welfare came to my grandfather’s place, he used to hunt them. “this is my property: you step on it, I’ll shoot you.”..”The police never had any authority to come on the land..” p.224 “the Wailing” S Rintoul

An Aboriginal land claim by the Daruk Land Council (now Deerubbin Land Council) for Sackville Reserve was granted (Nichols p6)

Jaky Troy, linguist, writes: It was believed (inland) spoke a different language to that of Port Jackson people. (Ford p176).

World Indigenous Peoples’ Corroboree, Newcastle.


Native Title Act 1993 came into effect 1 Jan 1994. The Act is part of the Commonwealth Government’s response to the High Court’s finding in the Mabo case. The Act sets up a National Native Title Tribunal and court processes to be used by people who want to claim native title to land. To claim native title people must prove:

• your people owned the land under Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander customs and laws;

• you have not lost your traditional links with the land; and

• Governments have not used the land or given it to anyone else in a way which ‘extinguishes’ or takes away your native title forever Commonwealth of Australia, January 1994.

Cyril Hennessey (born in Bourke in 1939) founds and coordinates The Glen Alcohol and Drug Rehabilitation Centre at Chittaway Point near Tuggerah Lake on the Central Coast. Three years later, he establishes The Glen Annexe at Rothbury in the Hunter Valley. In 2010, The Glen builds on Cyril’s legacy by establishing a Transition House at the Chittaway site (Halfway House for those who have completed the basic rehabilitation program). The founding motivation is to reduce the suffering of Aboriginal people at the hands of drugs and alcohol. Most especially, it seeks to get men out of the criminal justice system and into treatment for their addictions. The Glen treats individual clients in a holistic manner. This means working together to treat their addiction and empower men to take control of their lives and to become constructive members within their families and the community. The Glen program is based on Indigenous values and spirituality with a heavy emphasis on the consequences of the individual’s choices. “Ben” recalls his experiences of rehabilitation at The Glen:

“Malnourished and sleep-deprived, I came to The Glen a sick person in March this year. Drug use had taken its toll on my sanity. I no longer saw myself as a person of worth. I was not able to be a father to my daughter, or a husband to my wife. I had nowhere else to go. I came to The Glen for my family. I’ve stayed for myself. When I first got here I felt like thanking this place for saving my life. I’ve since learnt that hasn’t happened. It has given me a place to regather my strength, to stay clean. It has shown me that people whose minds work just like mine are able to be happy. It has given me the tools to achieve the same. It’s up to me to use them”.


Glen Morris and Giles Hamm publish "Aboriginal use of traditional rock painting and engraving sites as a means of cultural revival". It contributes to a cultural regeneration movement in the Newcastle region and focuses especially on significant sites in Yengo national park and Wollombi.

The Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Centre opens in Wyong in September. Its name honours the work of Eleanor Duncan, a registered nurse and respected member of the local Aboriginal community. The Centre provides culturally appropriate medical services to the 6,454 Aboriginal people that live on the Central Coast.

Aboriginal Youth Connections is established on the Central Coast and Hunter Region. It offers Aboriginal programs to engage and connect youth, provide cultural training and work skills, improve education outcomes and turn them into jobs. Through its Aboriginal tours program, it seeks to educate Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people about local Aboriginal history and heritage. It also seeks to create employment and training opportunities for Aboriginal youth through enabling them to participate in business in a meaningful way, while maintaining cultural heritage and caring for country. Gavi Duncan (descendant of William Bird or “Little Breeches”) is Indigenous cultural advisor.

Local production of "Bran Nue Dae" at the Community Arts Centre.


Wik Decision.

Lin Onus (son of Bill Onus) dies.

Ray Kelly’s play ”Somewhere in the Darkness” is written in Newcastle area by playwright Ray and staged at Sydney Theatre Company.

A play by Julie Janson “Black Mary” about Mary Ann Bugg and Captain Thunderbolt is published by Aboriginal Studies Press. It is still available on Amazon books.


Biripai and Worimi elders travel by bus to the opening of the Belvoir St Theatre and SOCOG production of “Black Mary” at the Wilson St Carriage works in Redfern.

The monument to “The Lost Tribes of the Hawkesbury” is forgotten for decades after it is unveiled in 1952 and surrounded by blackberries. It is rediscovered during the 1990s and by 2003 is the focal part of the Sackville Aboriginal Memorial Reserve.

Newcastle City Bi-Centenary. Its foreshore commemorative activities focus on Reconciliation.

John Lester (of Wonnarua descent and raised in Sydney) is appointed Professor at the Umulliko Research Centre, University of Newcastle.

Jim Wright becomes an ATSIC Commissioner.

Bringing Them Home: Report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families.


April 14 Newcastle City Council’s Commitment to Aborigines. The Council of the City of Newcastle acknowledges that Awabakal and Worimi are the first peoples of this council area, and are the proud survivors of more than two hundred years of continuing dispossession. Newcastle Council recognises that the British invasion initiated massive changes to the land and its peoples.

As a vital step towards building a just, common future, Newcastle Council recognises the loss and the grief held by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Council acknowledges that this loss and grief has been caused by alienation from their traditional lands, the loss of their lives and their freedom, and the forced removal of their children.

Newcastle Council supports the right of Indigenous peoples to live according to their own values and cultures. Newcastle Council recognises the vital importance of their contribution to strengthening and enriching our city and region. Newcastle Council, in consultation with local Gooris commits itself to: respect and conserve their cultural practices, traditional sites and significant places; promote activities that increase cultural sensitivity and awareness of Indigenous peoples; develop an agreement between local Indigenous communities and other community members for the care of the local environment; work towards the recovery of their languages, health, cultural practices and lost kinship. Newcastle Council will look towards Indigenous cultures for practical knowledge which can help secure a sustainable future for our community. Newcastle Council, in negotiation with Indigenous peoples, also commits itself to further reconciliation between Indigenous and other communities by working for a treaty and/or other agreements of reconciliation.

Newcastle City Council develops will an action plan to redress disadvantage and attain justice for local Aboriginal people.

Uncle Bob Smith calls for a revival of interest in Percy Haslam’s work on Awabakal language and culture at an Education symposium at the University of Newcastle. Director of Awabakal Newcastle Aboriginal Co op, Ray Kelly, endorses Smith’s call to action. Haslam’s work is strongly influenced by Rev L E Threlkeld’s recordings of the local Aboriginal language, history and culture of the wider Lake Macquarie region.

Jim Kohen completes PhD. With his work, almost 20,000 people trace and can claim descent from the Darug.

Nerida Blair (daughter of opera singer and activist Harold Blair) is appointed Associate Professor to Umulliko Indigenous Higher Education Research Centre at the University of Newcastle. Blair compiles Darkinjung: Lands, Waters and Peoples (2000), and Darkinjung: Our Voices, Our Place (2003). The aim of the project is to place Indigenous voices at the centre of Darkinjung story telling and history, and thus to breathe life into the local community, further enhancing Darkinjung identity.

The Wollombi Museum consults local Aboriginal people and organisations for the purpose of upgrading its Aboriginal displays. It considers the Wollombi story that is then told within the Museum as “very inadequate” by present-day standards. The Museum seeks to tell three main histories within its historic Courthouse setting: Wollombi - the Aboriginal meeting place, the Aboriginal Evidence Bill of 1844 (to address the rejection of Aborigines testimony in court), and the Aboriginal trackers who work with Wollombi police for nearly a century from 1840. (Source: Carl Hoipo, Wollombi Museum)


"Kin Tucka Tiddas" is the first major production of the Ngoroekah Theatre Company which develops from almost 20 years of collaboration between Freewheels Theatre in Education, the Community Arts Centre and the Goori community.

Death of former Senator, Neville Bonner at Ipswich in February.

Senator Aden Ridgeway’s Maiden Speech: Aden is grandson of former Maitland resident, Mrs. Pheobe Mumbler.

The Wonnarua Nation Aboriginal Corporation is established and represents the Wonnarua people. It focuses on nurturing the history and culture of the Wonnarua Nation, improving the health and education of its members and managing investments to sustain the Corporation’s work. In 2014, board members are Laurie Perry, Sandra Miller, John Lester, Arthur Fletcher, Tracey Skene, Sharon Edgar-Jones, Richard Edwards and Dean Miller. Laurie Perry is CEO role). While board members manage the Corporation, the Elders guide the Wonnarua Nation.

The Wonnarua Nation Aboriginal Corporation is established to represent the Wonnarua people. It focuses on nurturing the history and culture of the Wonnarua Nation, improving the health and education of its members and managing investments to sustain the Corporation’s work. Some people now identify as Aboriginal who previously did not.

The current board members of the WNAC are Laurie Perry, Sandra Miller, John Lester, Arthur Fletcher, Tracey Skene, Sharon Edgar-Jones, Richard Edwards and Dean Miller (Laurie Perry is on leave of absence from the Board while he is fulfilling the CEO role).

The directors achieve significant milestones since the Corporation was returned to the WNAC board after a period of administration.

The Wonnarua Nation Aboriginal Corporation is developing many exciting projects for the Wonnarua people. Current projects include purchasing culturally important properties such as St Clair Mission site and the Blacks Camp to develop tourism and agriculture to assisting young people with education and housing the Morrison Collection of Wonnarua artifacts, currently with the Australian Museum.