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Call or write to Premier Daniel Andrews’ office, and register your opposition to this destruction.
(03) 9651 5000
I remember hearing about Birrarung (the Yarra River), from a Wurendjeri man, Uncle Eddie, and of how beautiful it was before the white settlers came to Australia.
In the cool of the early morning, a blue mist would come and settle over the flowing clear waters. The river banks on either side were covered in green grass, spreading out into grassy fields where the native blue flowers, that imbued the mist with their colour, grew in abundance.
Birrarung; the river of mists and shadows.
How enchanting; and how heartbreaking, that it will never be again.
Four days ago, I visited Brambuk National Park and Cultural Centre in Hall’s Gap, which has preserved many tools and utensils that the Koorie people used, as well as much knowledge that had been handed down through their generations about the land and their way of life.
Underneath the history and art, though, was a painful reminder.
Whilst browsing, I noticed a sign that reminded visitors about how much of the Koori culture and life has been “lost”. Someone (probably someone hurting) had scratched a line through the word “lost” and underneath it scratched the work “massacred”.
It’s uncomfortable as a white person to agree with whoever scratched that word there, but if I refuse to face that discomfort and instead paint over the word “massacred” with “lost” in my own mind, I run the risk of adopting the attitude of those early settlers, who slaughtered, raped, imprisoned, and poisoned the Aboriginal men, women and children.
We massacred the people.
We massacred the land, and scarred it with mud and pollution. We ripped its people away from it, and left it untended, diseased, and vulnerable to fire and flood.
We tore down any reminder of the people who had lived here and cultivated the land for 40,000 years before we even set foot upon the shores; we massacred their entire culture.
In 2008, the Australian government officially apologized to Indigenous people across the nation for the way we destroyed their life.
An apology doesn’t change what happened, but it was an important national acknowledgement and step forward from the wrongs of our not-so-distant past.
Time and time again, however, the government have proven that their apology meant nothing. That it was just a political stunt; a popularity grab.
This truth is embodied perfectly at the current time by the Andrews government and VicRoads planning to, once again, destroy such a precious and sacred sight that had been thus far preserved – the Djab Wurrung Birthing Trees – so that they can put a road there.
This is not only grieving the hearts and souls of the Djab Wurrung people, but it is proving that we still hold the same lack of love for our First Peoples, and a lack of respect for their culture and their lives.
If Australia were settled today, this proves that white people would still justify their slaughter to make room for our houses and roads – we still destroy them for our comfort and indulgence.
For 40,000 years, the Jardwadjali and Djab Wurrung people, and all of the native tribes across the nation, cultivated the land and lived in harmony with it. They knew it, loved it, and worked it so that life could thrive in this beautiful place.
They have already suffered so much; been stripped of their dignity, their rights, and their identity. And the land has suffered its loss of their way of life.
Must we cause more pain?
Must we massacre more of their culture?
Must we continue to steal, kill, and destroy?
For the sake of this land, and for the sake of our Koorie brothers and sisters, let us humble ourselves and stand with them.