Acknowledging the Past at Myall Creek
Located on the Bingara-Delungra Road near Inverell, The Myall Creek Memorial details the events that led up to the Myall Creek massacre, where 28 Wirrayaraay women, children, and older men were murdered by a group of stockmen in 1838.
The Uniting Church had a role in the creation of the memorial site. In early 1998 at a Uniting Church conference, Rev John Brown lamented the massacres that had occurred across the continent, suggesting it would be good to visit a massacre site.
Gomeroi elder Sue Blacklock responded with an offer to show him Myall Creek, an invitation he took up. In October 1998, a conference on reconciliation initiated by the Uniting Church was held at Myall Creek.
Uniting Church minister The Rev. Ivan Roberts is Co-Chairperson of the Friends of Myall Creek Memorial, a committee made up of equal numbers of Aboriginal and non-indigenous members. His Co-Chairperson colleague is Uncle Lyall Munro Sr.
In 2018, Rev. Roberts delivered a short address at a national reconciliation conference. He said that acknowledging the past would help indigenous and non-indigenous Australians alike.
“The well-being of Australian society generally because guilt – conscious or unconscious – can be a paralysing stumbling block, and acknowledgment of the truth of our shared history,” he said.
The memorial was opened in June 2000 by a group of Aboriginal and non-indigenous people working together in an act of reconciliation.
The Myall Creek massacre led to the first charging of non-Indigenous Australians for the murder of Aboriginal people.
The Friends of Myall Creek Memorial has secured a NSW Government grant from the Regional Cultural Fund for more than $1 million to complete the next stage of a Myall Creek Cultural and Education Precinct at the memorial site.
The funds will provide for a culturally appropriate outdoor performance space and a meeting place for dance, drama and storytelling.
There will be public artworks representative of the cultural explosion generated by the healing that has taken place at Myall Creek, as well as building much-needed parking bays and amenities that cater for the growing number of visitors to the precinct.
Professor Lisa Jackson Pulver AM, a proud Wiradjuri Koori woman, will be the event’s guest speaker this year.
Professor Jackson is an academic leader, a recognised expert in public health and prominent researcher, educator and advocate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Education.
The Friends of Myall Creek Memorial – a committee of Aboriginal and non-Indigenous Australians protect and maintain the Memorial.
The Memorial is listed on the National Heritage register, as well as the NSW register. In 2005 it was awarded the Judith Wright Prize for innovative reconciliation work.
Since 2000, people have gathered each year on the June long weekend to acknowledge painful but shared history.
Thousands of people visit the site throughout the year, including school groups.
The Myall Creek
Memorial Commemoration takes place at the Myall Creek Hall, Bingara Delungra
Road, at 9:30am on Sunday 9 June.
For more information, visit the Myall Creek website.
Jonathan Foye is Insights’ Editor