Community gathered on Sunday 15 April to pay their respects to the victims of the Appin Massacre at a memorial hosted by Winga Myamly Reconciliation Group, in remembrance of the massacre of Aboriginal people 202 years ago.
A time for remembering, healing and reconciliation, the service was held at Cataract Dam to honour the Dharawal people who perished in the massacre in 1816, one of the darkest days in the Macarthur’s history.
In 1816 the NSW Governor, Lachlan Macquarie, sanctioned the massacre of Dharawal men, women and children because he felt compelled to “inflict terrible and exemplary punishments” upon Aboriginal people living in the outskirts of Sydney. On 17 April 1816, fourteen Aboriginal people were reportedly killed however the real number of dead was estimated to be many more.
Winga Myamly Reconciliation Group Coordinator, Sister Kerry Mcdermott, welcomed everyone in attendance, sharing with them the importance of marking the massacre.
“It is important that we recognise this horrible day in our history all these years later and are educated about it. It is amazing that so many are not aware of the local massacre which occurred,” she said.
“I hope that by learning about atrocities like these in our history, it will never be repeated again. Walking side by side on the journey of healing and reconciliation can bring us closer together as a nation”.
(Photo by: Jeff McGill)
The day involved a walk to the dedicated site, traditional smoking ceremony, Welcome to Country by Dharawal descendants, as well as a traditional performance on the didgeridoo by Glen Doyle.
Uncle Ivan Wellington acted as MC and all present were respectfully enthusiastic in their support of the activities.
Speakers included Linda Burney, Shadow Minister for Human Services; Campbelltown Mayor, George Brticevic and the Mayor for Wollondilly Shire Council, Judith Hannan.
As an invited guest, Bishop Brian Mascord attended the ceremony thanking Sister Mcdermott for the offer to be with the community at such a significant time and join with them in remembrance.
(Photo by: Jeff McGill)
A number of Macarthur schools were represented including students from John Therry Catholic High School, Rosemeadow who performed at the ceremony.
Sister Mcdermott said that she looked forward to seeing more people at the ceremony next year and encouraged locals to raise awareness of the importance of attending.
Tharawal Local Aboriginal Land Council has continued the campaign to remember the Appin Massacre. On 17 April at 10am each year, communities on Dharawal lands are encouraged to lower all Aboriginal flags to half-mast and pause for one minute in silence and reflection.
For more information, please see the Appin Massacre Memorial Facebook page