Senate debates

Monday, 9 December 2013


Bungaree Reserve, Bouddi at Bells

10:02 pm

Photo of Deborah O'NeillDeborah O'Neill (NSW, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

I would like to place on the record information about two events that happened on the Central Coast over the last month. One of them was a particularly historic event. When I indicated to the people who were in attendance that I thought it was of such importance that I wanted to record it in Hansard they were overwhelmed at the opportunity to have their names recorded in association with this event. It was a historic event; in fact it was the naming of the Bungaree Reserve on the shores of Fagans Bay near Gosford on the Central Coast of New South Wales.

It may not be widely known to members in this place, but Bungaree was originally a Kuring-gai man whose tribal ancestors lived and descendants today live on the shore of what is now called Brisbane Water. The official naming of the Bungaree Reserve is a very proud initiative of the Koolewong, Point Clare and Tascott Progress Association. They had a vision for acknowledging Bungaree in a particular way. Over three years, working with his descendants, they were able to realise that vision. The naming of Bungaree Reserve was achieved through the work of Gosford City Council in concert with the Koolewong, Point Clare and Tascott Progress Association and the Geographical Names Board of New South Wales, which supported the naming of Bungaree Reserve.

In attendance, I am very proud to say, was the first female Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the New South Wales Parliament from the First Peoples, the Hon. Linda Burney, who made some extremely engaging remarks on the day. I acknowledge her presence and her contribution to the event. It is essentially from her work in preparation for the event that I am able to record just a little bit about Bungaree. Apart from being born on the Central Coast in his homeland of the Kuring-gai people, we know that he left and headed down to Sydney. He was there with the first settlers. He was very prominent and, as Linda Burney indicated, his prominence afforded the description of his happy disposition, his intelligence, even his height and good looks. It is appropriate in this visual age that even back then those qualities were admired far and wide. Indeed, he is described as being a diplomat and a mariner. That is very appropriate, considering that we have that wonderful team the Mariners as the Central Coast's spearhead in our attack on the A-League across the country.

Bungaree's very significant claim to fame in the post-settlement period was that he accompanied Matthew Flinders aboard the Investigator, in 1801 and 1802. In doing so he became the first Indigenous Australian in the modern era to circumnavigate Australia. He was a very skilled spear fisherman and it seems from the records that Flinders was rather dependent upon Bungaree's spear-fishing skills. Flinders wrote in his journal that Bungaree 'is tolerably well acquainted with the country as far as Port Stephens.' We know that many of the words of the Eora people—Kuring-gai words—such as woomera, have entered into Australian English through conversation with Bungaree.

History records that Bungaree was king plated by Governor Lachlan Macquarie 1815, earning the honorific 'Bungaree, Chief of the Broken Bay Tribe', or the 'King of Port Jackson'. We do not know what Bungaree thought of this dubious honour, but there is a plate picture of him, which inspired some of the local art that was on display on the day by students from the local primary school, Point Clare Public School, which is thriving under the brilliant leadership of a former member for Wyong, great Labor man David Harris, who deeply understands the connection between school and community. This is another way for young Australians to learn about the history of the First Peoples and about the context of place. When we acknowledge and honour our First Peoples every time we speak in public our young people better understand their connection to this place too. The artworks they created were absolutely brilliant. One class displayed a beautiful diorama of their version of events and the naming of Bungaree Reserve. But the winner on the afternoon was a collective effort by four young students who created an installation, using natural fibres, of a boat, replete with a small crew on board. It was a beautiful piece of work.

I would like to acknowledge the work of Rendall Wagner and his wife Deidre Howard-Wagner in their leadership of this event. They did an amazing job. I thought that Ren's words were worth recording here today. I quote from him to describe what he felt was happening: 'It symbolises mutual recognition and respect of the land and its history, and acknowledgement of the rights of Aboriginal people as the first peoples and custodians of the land and waters. Before the arrival of the British colonial settlers, Brisbane Water was the home of the coastal Kuring-gai people. Aboriginal sites in the Gosford local government area, including the reserves behind the houses of Koolewong, Point Clare and Tascott indicate that there has been a rich and significant area for the Aboriginal community and a site of cultural development for tens of thousands of years.' He spoke of it as an act of recognition and respect. I thought that was very powerful because that is exactly what happened.

Today I want to read into Hansard the names of the people who want to be associated with this event, because they were there when we made history on the Central Coast: Tracey and Kyle Howie, descendants of Bungaree, along with further descendants Trudy, Marc, Reta, Robert and Joe Smith; Laurie Bimson; Neil, Nathan and Anthony Evers; Brett, Todd and Gai Rowlings; Sue and Hanah Shilcock; Lynette Robley; Aylene and Jake Rumble; Tony and Alison Tyler; Elva Redmond; Grahame Redmond; and Matthew Shilcock.

I would particularly like to acknowledge the members of the progress association who were present: Helen Orchard and Grahame Orchard, Jill Greenwood, Fred Beringer, Lisa Hagarty, Mrs Zaga Palalic-Turner and Margaret Alexander. Other community members who contacted me and wanted to be formally associated with this event are Cheryl and Alan Herring.

It was indeed a wonderful event. I will close my remarks on that matter with those of Linda Burney, who said: 'Bungaree was the most discussed Aboriginal person of the early 19th century, yet for too long no place has honoured Bungaree. Bungaree was a man of intelligence, warmth and laughter, a man with a unique place as a witness at the meeting of two worlds. It is fitting that this place be named in Bungaree's honour. It is fitting that we again tell his story.' I was very pleased to be a part of that event on the Central Coast.

One further event to which I would like to refer my remarks in this evening's adjournment is a wonderful initiative that is happening as a result of the Bouddi Arts Foundation on the Killcare-Hardys Bay peninsula at the southern end of the seat of Robertson. This is a relatively new organisation but it is being led by very capable and passionate advocates of the arts. Just a couple weeks ago at Bouddi, at the Bells resort, 600 people gathered to see celebrities perform. They included Rob Carlton, an Australian actor of some claim to fame, who did a wonderful job as the MC for the occasion. That most famous advocate of Shakespearean plays, John Bell, of Bell Shakespeare, was also there. He gave a wonderful rendition of a soliloquy from, I believe, Richard III. HG Nelson regaled us with some great stories. Adam Spencer gave an explanation of geek-dom and why it has been such a happy mantle for him to wear. Appearances by Jane Caro, Graeme Blundell and Anna Volska made for a wonderful afternoon. Wendy Matthews gave a tremendous vocal performance. We also had the Encore Vocal Group and the Central Coast Chamber Orchestra, who gave us a wonderful afternoon of entertainment.

I particularly want to acknowledge the contribution of the Kariong group of the NAISDA, the Australian Indigenous dance college, who welcomed the audience on the day. The funds that were raised were given to successful applicants: Miriam Jones, Maddison Knox, Arlen Bowling, Christian Turner and Ethan Hughes. They will do wonderful work with the money that they have received from the foundation, which raised more than $20,000 on that day. (Time expired)


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