There was a deep sense of the community’s strength and unity today in Bowraville as around 300 people gathered to dedicate the renewed James Park to the memory of Evelyn Greenup.
Evelyn’s family wore shirts with her face emblazoned on them and laid flowers around the freshly unveiled plaque in a touching tribute to a life unfairly taken.
WATCH: The official dedication
Evelyn’s family has worked resolutely with council (through Naj Hatsic), Aboriginal Affairs NSW, and the community to reinvigorate the once unkempt public space into a peaceful garden, fit for commemorating the young girl who loved the outdoors and who brought so much joy to those around her.
“God looked down upon his garden and found an empty place...God’s garden must be beautiful—he always takes the best,” Evelyn’s aunt Clarice Greenup said, reciting a poem for the occasion.
“One thing I remember about Evelyn was how you had to take your shoes off when you went into Bill and Becca’s place in Sydney because otherwise Evelyn would think you were there to take her for a walk. She loved going for walks outside,” Evelyn’s aunt Michelle (Lulu) Jarrett said.
Uncle Martin and Aunty Sandra purified and invited good spirits to the park with smoke from local trees and water from the Nambucca River, before welcoming everyone to “this beautiful little part of the Gumbaynggirr nation”.
“When you lose a child, you carry that heartache for the rest of your life,” Aunty Sandra said.
“And maybe today will bring the family a little bit of peace.”
The memorial is a quintessential part of the healing process as outlined by the final recommendation in the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into the murders:
That the NSW Government provide funding to: • beautify and maintain the memorial dedicated to Colleen Walker-Craig, Evelyn Greenup and Clinton Speedy-Duroux in Bowraville • beautify and maintain the Clinton Speedy Memorial Park in Tenterfield, and • erect a memorial to Colleen Walker-Craig in Sawtell. The beautification or establishment of these memorials should be undertaken in consultation with the families of the three children.Recommendation 15 from the Parliamentary Inquiry
On November 29, the families of the three children will return to the NSW Supreme Court to try again for a just resolution.
“I, and I’m sure everyone here, is in awe of your strength in your gallant battle for justice,” head of Aboriginal Affairs NSW Jason Ardler said.
“As a community, we hope and pray that there will be a day very soon where there will be justice and answers,” Mayor Rhonda Hoban said.
Mayor Hoban then thanked the families for contributing their ideas for the park.
“If you look around you’ll see it’s very children-focussed,” Cr Hoban said.
“While it has been set aside as a memorial, I hope it will also be filled with the laughter and enjoyment of children.”
Local Bowraville children have had a large part to play in the park’s beautification—a symbolic gesture which reflects the tender age of Evelyn when she was taken.
HIPPY children planted the park out earlier this year, and students from the Bowraville PreSchool, Bowraville Central School and St Mary’s School have contributed painted discs, which have been set on top of wooden poles around the garden with help from the Nambucca Valley Men’s Shed.
WATCH: HIPPY kids plant out James Park as a tribute to Evelyn Greenup
Some totemic stencils, designed by talented local artist Denise Buchanan, have been sprayed onto the pavement leading up to the memorial plaque.
“The red bass is for the Buchanans and the carpet snake is the Ballangarry sign,” Michelle Jarrett said.
“The park may look half-finished, but it is a work in progress—this is just the beginning.”
There are plans in place for more artwork as well as bush tucker and herb gardens.