Aboriginal Place Celebrations at Soldiers Point

Jayla Nanai, three, sings the audience a song. Photo by Sarah STOKES
Jayla Nanai, three, sings the audience a song. Photo by Sarah STOKES

Six hectares of land at Soldiers Point was recently declared an Aboriginal Place following a 35 year battle to achieve it.

This momentous achievement for the local Worimi people culminated in celebrations on Saturday 26 November at Spencer Park, Soldiers Point.

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The Worimi people, as well as the wider community, enjoyed the smoking ceremony, didgeridoo performance, rides, exhibition and a sausage sizzle.

This was preceded by official speeches by the Worimi people, Port Stephens Council and the Office of Environment and Heritage.

Entertainment was provided by a band.

The area, known traditionally as Thou-Walla, holds cultural significance to the Worimi.

The people have a long history of occupying this area, with evidence of their settlement and traditional use of the land.

Evidence still exists of middens and burial sites.

The exhibition on display in the hall included photos from Newcastle Regional Library Local History Collection, from 1900 onwards.

These depicted everyday life for the Worimi people as well as special occasions.

It was a fascinating insight into a history that is largely oral.

Andrew Smith, CEO of the Worimi Local Aboriginal Council, told News Of The Area, “It has been a long-fought journey to achieve this outcome and we wanted to share this milestone with the wider community and loved that people chose to get along, support us and share in our celebrations.”

An Aboriginal Place is afforded legal protection for its Aboriginal cultural heritage.

It does not change the status of the land or affect the ownership.

It does, however, ensure that Worimi people have to be listened to with regard to planning applications and the impact it may have on their heritage.

It is hoped that this is just the beginning of gathering the story of this special place and to share it with as wide an audience as possible.

By Sarah STOKES

Leigh Ridgeway in traditional dress. Photo by Sarah STOKES
Leigh Ridgeway in traditional dress. Photo by Sarah STOKES

Andrew Smith (CEO) with his niece, Maddie Smith. Photo by Sarah STOKES
Andrew Smith (CEO) with his niece, Maddie Smith. Photo by Sarah STOKES

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