NAIDOC Week at Rouse Hill
The morning started in the Visitor Centre. In front of a diverse audience drawn from cultures reflecting the demographics of Western Sydney, SLM Director Mark Goggin opened proceedings by acknowledging the Darug ancestors and custodians of the land before handing over to Uncle Greg Sims – a respected Darug elder –who then provided a traditional Welcome to Country. He acknowledged Darug elders and participants, and led a minute’s silence to remember fallen indigenous diggers – very timely as we move towards the anniversary of the start of WWI. After being warmly welcomed and recognised by Uncle Greg, the Member for Riverstone Kevin Connolly spoke of the importance of NAIDOC to the area of Western Sydney.
Darug elder Uncle Wes Marne then led participants to the re-created Windsor Rd to explain the significance of the smoking ceremony before inviting them to cleanse themselves with the sacred smoke. Participants then joined in a range of activities: artworks from Rouse Hill Public were on display and inspired young artists at the painting table, learning about indigenous art while painting small rocks and pebbles guided by Leanne Watson of Muru Mittigar Aboriginal Cultural Education Centre. Close by, Uncle Wes told stories of the Dreaming while the Taronga Zoo-mobile set up their display of native animals for participants to touch, hold, take photos with and ask the zookeepers questions. Participants were able to grab a free sausage and onion roll from Uncle Gordon Morton and Celestine Everingham, then sit down and listen to Uncle Greg while he demonstrated his skills in making woomeras, clubs and digging sticks. It was especially gratifying to see visitors staying on, enjoying tours of the estate and house and free roaming through the gardens.