The Myall Creek Memorial, built in memory of the infamous Myall Creek Massacre of 1838, has been given the State’s highest form of heritage protection and recognition.
Minister for Planning, Tony Kelly, said the site, 23 kilometres north-east of Bingara, has been listed on the State Heritage Register because it represents an important part of the history of NSW.
“The site reflects the importance of this event in the State’s social and cultural history and its relevance to Aboriginal people, particularly the Wirrayaraay and Gamilaroi peoples,” the Minister said.
Twenty eight Aboriginal men, women and children were murdered at Myall Creek Station in June 1838, with seven stockmen hanged for their role in the crime.
The incident followed tension and fighting between the local Aboriginal people and settlers, who needed more pasture for their rapidly increasing flocks of sheep and herds of cattle.
Mr. Kelly said the massacre has been well documented from the 1850s to the present, reminding all Australians about the mistreatment of Aboriginal people during the period of frontier conflict.
The announcement coincided with a meeting where the Myall Creek Memorial Committee discussed plans for a new education and cultural centre close to the memorial site.
The Minister and The Committee’s Vice-Chairman Lyall Munro both said the announcement was a symbol of reconciliation. “We’ve now got the children involved in a wide area from Moree right up to Armidale, Inverell, Glen Innes”, Mr. Munro said.
He noted the part played by school children and descendants of the perpetrators of the massacre in the annual remembrance ceremony.
Lyall Munro says the site has grown in significance in the last 10 years. “It’s now not only a memorial site, it’s a big tourist attraction,” he said.
“We get hundreds of people who come from all over Australia and it’s marvellous to see how well known it is now Myall Creek cos it’s known nationally and internationally but the success is there now and we’re just sitting back looking and raising the funds to build the centre,” he said.
The site won the Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation’s Judith Wright Reconciliation Prize in 2003 and district schools and representatives of the local community participate in an annual service held at the site.
Country Labor MLC Christine Robertson, said the listing means any major work proposed for the site will be subject to decisions or advice from the Heritage Council of NSW and Gwydir Shire Council.
“The site will also have access to State Government heritage funding and will be required to be maintained on an ongoing basis to minimum standards of repair,” Ms Robertson said.
“The site will also house artefacts of local Aboriginal people and early settlers throughout Australia.”