Timeline of the Creation the Memorial
Len Payne, a Bingara resident, proposed the erection of a memorial in the memory of those who died. In the 1980s Len with others every June 10 laid a wreath at the site. Len never lost hope that one day a memorial would be built and up until his death in 1993 he continued to visit the site
A conference convened by the Uniting Church at Myall Creek on the invitation of Sue Blacklock a descendant of those who survived the Massacre, decided to erect a permanent memorial. The Myall Creek Memorial committee was formed.
February 20th, 1999
The grounds for erecting the memorial were established: If we and our descendants are to live in peace in Australia then we have to tell and acknowledge that truth of our history. It is not that all of our history is bad, but the bad must be acknowledged along with the good, if we are to have any integrity. There is a code of silence surrounding the massacres.
If we and our descendants are to live in peace in Australia then we have to tell and acknowledge that truth of our history. It is not that all of our history is bad, but the bad must be acknowledged along with the good, if we are to have any integrity. There is a code of silence surrounding the massacres.
We want Australia to be an inclusive society, where Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal are honoured and respect each other. This cannot happen until the history includes the stories of how Aboriginal people as well as non-Aboriginal people experienced the history.
We owe it to those who died defending their country and families, or died as innocent victims of vengeance, to create a memorial which reminds us of their part in our common history.
It is important to acknowledge the people who acted for justice in the story: Mr Hobbs, the manager of Myall Creek Station; Edward Denny Day, the officer who investigated the crime and others. The fact is that for the first time, the perpetrators of such crime in this country were brought to justice.
We are not pointing the finger at the people of Myall Creek or Bingara. The massacres went on all over the country.
March 10th, 1999
The descendants of those massacred at Myall Creek were unanimous in their support for a project involving both Indigenous and non-indigenous people. The meeting decided on the site for the memorial.
May 1st, 1999
In a meeting including many elders from throughout the region, Sue Blacklock spoke of having a simple memorial. A large granite rock was suggested. The Rural Lands Protection Board gave permission to use part of the travelling stock route for the memorial. Bingara Shire Council gave enthusiastic support. A grant was sought. Architect Tim Shell-Shear developed sketch plans and commenced the wording for the plaques.
June 29, 1999
It was decided the memorial “is also for the purpose of reconciling Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people”. The wording and art work for the plaques was discussed and publication of a booklet about the massacre planned.
October 6, 1999
A further grant was sought through Heritage 2000.
December 4, 1999
The first grant was successful. The wording of the plaques was considered in great detail. The opening of the memorial would be on June 10, 2000.
The Local Symbols of Reconciliation Project grant was successful. A 50 tonne rock was located. State Forest gave permission to move the rock and Transfield offered to move it. When the rock thudded into place, the memorial was at last tangible In the words of Paulette Smith speaking on behalf of the Myall Creek Memorial Committee at the opening of the Myall Creek Memorial,
June 10th, 2000:
“We started out as a group of strangers from all around this area, all united in a common ideal of truth, justice and reconciliation. As the meetings progressed, we became closer. I can remember the days when we all sat around the large table at lunchtime and shared our food amongst us…
“It was a memorable day when Des Blake, a descendant of one of the perpetrators arrived at our meeting. We had not expected to hear from any of these descendants, but months later, another descendant Beulah Adams came to a meeting. When she and Sue Blacklock hugged, we all felt we had really taken a step into the future.”
“Very soon we will all take a journey together. We will walk up the hill and along the serpentine path together, and as we walk down towards the rock, we will read about the massacre that happened here 162 years ago today. And as you walk, I ask only this of you. Think about those who died, speak to them, say a prayer for them, remember them. And as you return back along the path, take a stranger by the arm and walk back in peace, knowing that today you have taken a very big step towards justice, truth and reconciliation.”
The Walkway at the Memorial is a winding path representing, for Aboriginal people, the Creator Rainbow Serpent which wandered across the earth, forming the features of the landscape.
The Memorial Rock is surrounded by crushed white granite, white being the colour of mourning for Aboriginal people. The red gravel walkway reminds us of the blood that was shed in the massacre.
The Memorial Rock was surrounded with stones brought from all around the country, acknowledging that this history is part of the history of each one of us, and symbolizing the commitment of each of us to truth-telling and reconciliation.