A NEW tradition looks set to be a permanent addition to Race Week.
For the first time, the Wiradyuri community was included in the Super Wednesday festivities ahead of the Bathurst 1000.
Prior to the transporter parade, Wiradyuri elders performed a traditional welcome to country at the Bathurst Visitor Information Centre with some of the drivers and dignitaries.
Yanhadarrambal (Uncle Jade Flynn) said that, for as long as he can remember, the elders have wanted and tried to be part of the events on Mount Panorama (Wahluu).
What made the difference this year, he said, was appealing to event sponsors to see if they supported the inclusion of a welcome to country.
"The sponsors were overwhelmingly supportive of it and I think that must have filtered down to the organisers and, eventually, here we are," Yanhadarrambal said.
The final decision to include a welcome to country came at short notice to the elders, but they were able to coordinate one in time.
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Yanhadarrambal said that next year they hope to be able to do a big and better welcome to country, ideally incorporating local Aboriginal dancers and arranging gifts to present to the drivers who attend the ceremony.
"There's a lot more that we would have liked to have been able to do if we had a bit more notice, but we are grateful to have been given the opportunity by Supercars and by council to be able to come along and be part of what happens in Bathurst," he said.
As part of the ceremony, Dinawan Dyirribang (Uncle Bill Allen) addressed those present, explaining the Wiradyuri connection to Wahluu.
The drivers and dignitaries, including mayor Bobby Bourke, deputy mayor Ian North and local member Paul Toole, were then cleansed by smoke and branches.
Yanhadarrambal said this was a traditional custom of the Wiradyuri.
"When people come from what we call 'off-country', or not Wiradyuri country, are coming to our part of country, we as traditional owners, caretakers and elders, have to take care of those people when they come here," he said.
"Part of that welcome is that we put them through the smoke and the smoke is to cleanse off any negative energies or bad spirits that they may have brought from wherever they came from, and the leaves are a part of that cleansing ceremony as well.
"They are two similar, but different, cleansing rituals that we do here on this part of Wiradyuri country."
By being part of that ceremony, it is hoped that the drivers will feel more connected when to Wahluu.