Creating spaces for our stories
NAIDOC Week 2020
In 2020, SLM was proud to present our NAIDOC Week community event – usually held in July – on 14 November at Elizabeth Farm. This was one of our first major public events to be held since the closure of our museums and cancellation of programs due to COVID-19, and was very much looked forward to by visitors and SLM staff alike. We also launched a newly acquired artwork by Sydney-based Kuku Yalanji artist Tony Albert, Healing land, remembering Country (originally featured at the Biennale of Sydney 2020, as reported in the summer 2020 issue of Unlocked).
The day began with a welcome to Country and a smoking ceremony by Uncle Wes Marne, who also welcomed Healing land, remembering Country to Elizabeth Farm. Visitors were then invited to engage with and appreciate this beautiful and one-of-a-kind artwork through a ‘memory exchange’ activity that was popular among all age groups – this involved writing messages on paper embedded with local plant seeds that will eventually degrade into the soil to regenerate.
In the grounds of the house, visitors participated in a traditional weaving activity, learning techniques that they could practise later at home. Many people also took the time to explore the house and learn more about the property itself.
Healing land, remembering Country is currently on display at Elizabeth Farm. For opening hours, visit slm.is/elizabethfarm
Also in November, SLM launched the first in an ongoing series of community profiles on our website. These in-depth profiles allow us to highlight our connections and work with community Elders and leaders, and capture their unique stories and perspectives to share with our audiences.
The first person profiled was Uncle Fred, well known to many of our visitors from the wonderful cooking demonstrations run by Fred’s Bush Tucker at events such as the Eel Festival. In this three-part video, Uncle Fred imparts a wealth of knowledge and insight gathered from decades of learning from his Elders and on Country. The first video explores different bush foods and plants that can be found in many parts of Australia, and how best to use them, including foods you can easily make at home. In the second video, Uncle Fred demonstrates how to prepare and cook fish with traditional paperbark and lemon myrtle leaves. In the third, powerful video, he discusses his personal journey, opening up about his upbringing and family life, and how he has been able to connect to culture and community. He unpacks many difficult but important topics, and discusses how he was able to navigate his way through them. He also shares his thoughts on how people can overcome their fears when starting a new journey or creative endeavour, as well as the importance of passing on your knowledge to the generations to come.
Keep an eye out for future profiles on our website.
Coming up on Sunday 7 March is the annual Eel Festival at Elizabeth Farm, on Darug Country. One of our most popular events, the festival has become well known in the Parramatta community and further afield as an immersive and engaging experience. At Elizabeth Farm, the oldest colonial homestead still standing in Australia, visitors can learn about and celebrate Indigenous culture, particularly that of the Burramuttagal and Darug people. First launched in 2016, the festival continues to stimulate fascinating and important conversations and create enduring connections.
A smoking ceremony and welcome to Country will begin the day, followed by poetry, dance and songs by performance artist Gumaroy Newman and his team. Uncle Wes will be at the yarning circle, telling stories and sharing his knowledge and wisdom, still going strong as he approaches his 99th birthday. Visitors can taste Indigenous foods provided by Kallico Catering, participate in weaving and art activities, check out the house and gardens, and join in a Darug language workshop. Please come and learn about, celebrate and engage with the oldest living culture on Earth, at Australia’s oldest homestead.