Warrawi Yana Nura – Aboriginal Student Cultural Leadership
Early this week we had a moving and special day. We journeyed with Aboriginal students and staff from Arthur Phillip HS, Blacktown Girls HS, St Clair HS and St Mary’s Senior to several rock art sites in the NW Sydney region.
We offer thanks to the Darug Community and Elder Aunty Edna Watson for giving their permission to enter and view these sites. Our guide for the day was Erin Wilkins – Darug woman and Aboriginal Educator with Brewongle EEC and Muru Mittigar.
I can think of no better way to celebrate NAIDOC week in schools than to share some of this incredible heritage of the Sydney region with local students. It was profound event for us and we hope the students too. The sites we visited in Canoelands and Maroota are examples of the rich thousand year old sites that are all around us here in the Sydney basin.
To me, a non-Aboriginal man – I was incredibly grateful to visit these sites and witness the power and a little of the way things were in this land for millenia past. Feelings of sadness and shame bubbled up for the destruction of culture and people that occurred in our tainted colonial past.
If you did not have the chance to watch ‘The Secret River’ on ABC TV recently – I would highly recommend this as a confronting and insightful historical fiction of early settlement and Darug Aboriginal cultures on the Hawkesbury River. It is based on a book by Kate Grenville which is a must read also.
I think these sites are as significant to the world as Stonehenge or the Pyramids, but it is a sad reflection on our country that they are mostly forgotten and lost to all but a few of the community. Maybe it is for the best – they are less prone to vandalism and tourism the way they are. They will gradually erode and fade away.
The Darug culture will not – thanks to custodians like Erin and the Darug community who are educating us all of these traditions. We hope students who took part in our program take pride in their culture and value themselves as custodians of culture into the future.
Listen to Uncle Wes Marne tell a story of the Rainbow Serpent at the Canoelands cave site.
And Aunty Edna Watson discuss the Devil’s Rock site at Maroota