BATHURST mayor Monica Morse broke with tradition at yesterday’s Proclamation Day celebrations, delivering her address in partnership with a representative of the Wiradjuri people.
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Bill Allan Snr played the didgeridoo as he ascended the stage, and later stood beside the mayor as they recognised the two perspectives of the founding of Bathurst 198 years ago.
It’s the first time the mayoral address has been presented in this way.
Cr Morse said there was a strong emphasis on celebrating the city’s “shared history”, and recognising the Wiradjuri people as the original owners of the land.
“History is about storytelling,” Cr Morse said. “In white man’s tradition, stories are often written down.”
Mr Allan added: “We told stories by word of mouth, and that’s the way it’s stayed.”
The Bathurst mayor said it was these stories – however they were shared – that brought the community together.
“It is through these stories that we look forward to working towards celebrating 200 years of shared history, and it is through stories that we can understand that there are many ways in which we have a common humanity,” she said.
Cr Morse read several excerpts from Governor Lachlan Macquarie’s diary that mentioned the “native people”.
“He says: we found here three adult male natives and four native boys, who showed great surprise, however they also showed a degree of fear at seeing the strangers, horses and carriages,” Cr Morse said.
Mr Allan then described a meeting between the Wiradjuri people and the explorers.
“When the white people were coming over the mountains, they had three attempts,” he said. “On the third time, they approached the Aboriginal people for help. It was one of the direct tribesmen showed them the way across.”
In closing their joint address, Cr Morse and Mr Allan embraced.
Master of ceremonies Christopher Morgan also noted the contact between the Wiradjuri people and Governor Macquarie’s entourage in May, 1815.
“Macquarie expressed his desire, his hope, right on this spot here for a peaceful co-existence of these two very different cultures on the Bathurst Plains,” Mr Morgan said. “After just a few years, the tragic conflict between the Wiradjuris and the colonists began.
“History records that it took perhaps 150 years for people to even begin to reconcile these problems and realise Macquarie’s vision of respect and co-existence.
“Today we are confident to stand here on the banks of Wambool, or the Macquarie – in the shadow of Waluu, or Mount Panorama – sharing this ceremony with representatives of the Wiradjuri people.”
At yesterday’s celebrations, the Wiradjuri people barbecued kangaroo for the community to try.
“We didn’t go out and spear it though,” Mr Allan joked. “We got it from Woolworths.”
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