Women were front and centre yesterday as people from all reaches of the Gumbaynggirr nation came to the Nambucca to celebrate their proud cultural heritage.
Bowraville was the host of this year’s Nambucca Valley NAIDOC march and around 100 people marched down High St, cheered on by locals.
Vicki Fernance of Miimi Mothers did a stellar job of organising the march, even managing to secure a road closure in record timing.
Cheyenne Baker gave the Welcome to Country while sister Keyarna and Gabby Stadhams raised the flags at the RSL before the march officially kicked off.
Mayor Rhonda Hoban thanked the Indigneous elders present, particularly the women, for their hard work in preserving their culture by educating both the younger generations and white people too.
Once the march was in progress, three proud young Gumbaynggirr girls took the lead, heralding the area’s next generation of strong black women.
Uncle Martin Ballangarry played a rhythm on his clapping sticks and encouraged youngsters to dance with him down the street, while Vietnam Veteran Uncle Rob Bryant marched proudly behind an Australian flag.
And despite limited mobility, Aunty Shirley Ballangarry made sure she was a part of the march too.
WATCH footage of the march:
When the procession reached the Anglican Hall, they were greeted with a delectable spread of bushtucker, caught and prepared by Lorraine Donovan and her brother, Kiki.
Over 200 guests were treated to Garlaany (pipis) stew, and freshly barbecued Buluunggal (mullet), Warraagan (blackfish), Nunguu (kangaroo) kebabs, and fresh cut fruit and sweets.
A special treat of Jirri (woodworms) was handed out – a medicinal supplement used in local food culture to cleanse the blood.
After the morning tea, Michelle (Lulu) Jarrett made an emotional speech which acknowledged the fight of local women during Australia’s apartheid.
She mentioned those who were forced, and not so long ago, to walk to Bellingen via a bush track in the full throes of labour because the local hospital refused to treat Indigenous people.
She paid tribute to those women who suffered through the shame of being forced to enter last into the Bowraville Theatre and via a separate door to the white people.
And she thanked the women in her family, and those of the other two murdered Bowraville children, for keeping the families together during a time of inexplicable grief and injustice.
“I want to thank our elders past and present who fought hard against the injustices of their times. Without them, we wouldn’t be here today celebrating our culture like we are,” she said.