Monday, August 29, 2011

Caring for their People: The Wiradjuri

The Wiradjuri are the largest indigenous nation in NSW.  The name Wiradjuri means people of the three rivers, the three rivers being the Lachlan or Kalarie, the Macquarie and the Murrum-bidgee.  Their totem or emblem is the goanna.

Culturally, the Wiradjuri are incredibly deep and spiritual people. To us white fellas, Australian indigenous folk are about as far removed from us as we are from Eskimos.  We believe in money, cars, plasma tv's and other material things: ownership if you like. The Wiradjuri see themselves as custodians of the land and their culture, not owners.  A polar opposite to our fast paced consumer oriented Western 'lifestyle'.  They have a history that goes back 40,000 years, compare that with a piddly 200 years of Ozcupation.

When I heard of the Wiradjuri Cultural Centre at Condobolin, smack bang in the middle of New South Wales, I was intrigued and wanted to know more.  So I called in on my way through town and was immediately spellbound by the building and the people.

The cultural centre is the brainchild of Percy Knight, a Wiradjuri man and former footballer from Condobolin.  The building is constructed in a ring shape, much like a ceremonial corroboree ground.  It is made out of local red earth compressed into bricks.  Timber and painted glass windows complete the picture.  But it is the centre of the building that attracts the eye.  At it's heart is an eagle perched high on a carved tree, symbolising their connection with the land, creatures and living beings, and their ancestors .  An incredibly powerful statement of Aboriginal culture.

Inside the building are training rooms and a Yarn-up space. The Yarn-up space is where Wiradjuri will discuss, develop and bounce aspects of their culture in the traditional manner.  The training rooms complete with painted murals of traditional Wiradjuri life will be a space for learning and dissemination.

A garden is being completed, with a statue of a proud Wiradjuri Warrior at it's centre.

I cannot understate the significance of this project to a proud nation of people.  All Australians of all colour, creed and race should visit and learn.

The official opening of the Wiradjuri Cultural Centre is on 27th September and will be presided over by one Kevin Rudd.

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