July 1 - 7, 2012: Issue 65     

Top: Oliver Scheuring, resident didge player. Below: singing 'Tugganarra'. 

 Craig Kerslake and son, Cooper Darmopil-Kerslake

 Craig Kerslake, Neil Evers and Laurie Bimson

Exterior Photographs by Michael Mannington, 2012. All Rights Reserved. Extra Images Courtesy of the Evers Family. All Rights Reserved.Copyright Pittwater Online News.

Bilgola Plateau Public School ‘Celebration of Partnership’ and ‘Under A Starry Sky’ NAIDOC Week Celebrations
Tuesday 26th June 2012 and Thursday 28th of June, 2012

A whole school assembly preceded the unveiling of the sculpture of Darinyung ‘stingray’ and Acknowledgement of Country plaque at Bilgola Plateau Public School on Tuesday morning. Vicki Johnson, Principal of Bilgola Plateau Primary School, welcomed all guests and parents to the school and explained some of the meaning and work involved in this unique project to celebrate partnership with indigenous peoples in Pittwater and elsewhere.

A desire to acknowledge a shared history, respect and acceptance of all cultures has led this school to commission and place this unqiue work at the entrance of Bilgola Plateau Public School. In 2010 the Department of Education signed a statement of intent with the Aboriginal Education Consultant Group to work together to provide better choices in education for our indigenous students. Bilgola Plateau Public School, apart from including activitives and learning of our original custodians, also intends to build a stronger relationship with our local indigenous peoples and to “honour and respect them as the oldest living culture of humanity, as well as acknowledge them as the first people of this land.”

Mrs Johnson stated that this sculpture is the first building block of that relationship which will continue to grow in strength. Darinyung is the Guringgai word for ‘stingray’, which is the token animal of our area. The sculpture was designed by local architect Craig Kerslake, who was assisted by friends and parents of students at this school.

Thanks were given to Uncle Laurie (Laurie Bimson) for providing the steel at cost, to Johnson Bros and Mitre 10 for providing the timber, cement, nuts and bolts and the truck to install them. A huge thanks went to the parents who helped in every stage of these works was also expressed.

Oliver Scheuring from year 6, who has been studying how to play the didgeridoo for a year, provided some wonderful music and received loud applause. The children all joined in singing an indigenous song called ‘Tugganarra’ that had been practised just for this ceremonial unveiling, complete with actions.

Craig Kerslake addressed the students and guests to thank all who had volunteered to help with the project. Craig stated that it’s not just his sculpture, “it’s really your sculpture as well”, referring to all who had helped with each stage of the works. He shared some insights into his self; Craig explained there are different sorts of aborigines, black and white aborigines. He explained a little bit about what it means to be ‘from country’ stating that he was not from country in Pittwater. Craig’s grandfather was from the Dubbo area which makes him Wiradjuri or from the ‘Wiradjuri country’. He also enounced how to pronounce 'Darinyung', stating you would say it as you speak ‘Darren Young’.

The sculpture meanings derived from, to him, as an abstract sculpture; "to represent the old people who used to walk through this land, the Guringai elders and the people who lived off the land and in a nomadic life. It also represents (in the height difference between the posts) the students and teachers at this school, the primary and infants; the big column represents the teachers, the middle one for primary and the smallest for infants."

Of the Materials; these, Craig explained, were probably part of a bridge for 150 years and then a tree for around 200 years before that; so they’re very old and come from the times before white settlement. Craig explained there’s a history in some of that bridge timber, so he left some of the bridge paint on and some of the old bolts to represent that history.

In explaining about Belonging to Country Craig likened it to being somewhere on a holiday that goes for too long and becoming homesick; “That homesick feeling; that’s kind of like the feeling of belonging to country; it’s also like you think this is your school; from an aboriginal perspective the school actually owns you. Would you leave papers on the ground if the school owned you?”

Children Answer; "No."

“There’s a boy who came to me when I was down the front of the school putting a large screw in for the coppice logs and said to me, “excuse me, you can’t do that; this is my school and I don’t think you’re meant to do that”, and I thought ‘that’s very aboriginal’ you’ve got to look after the school. And that’s how it is to aboriginal people; they care about the landscape because the landscape owns them.”

“In this way Darinyung represents you (the students and teachers) and it also represents aboriginal culture living together.”

NAIDOC Week celebrations across the Peninsula Community of Schools included an evening of celebration called “Under the Starry Sky” on Thursday 28th and Friday 29th of June, 2012 with students from other schools invited to attend this special celebration at Bilgola Plateau Publisc School. These Celebrations included a traditional Smoking Ceremony (cleansing ritual), Welcome to Country (by Neil Evers), and a BBQ Dinner followed by indigenous games. During the day children participated in pitching a tent, creating a doormat for their tent and participating in a workshop run by Keri Kenton to paint a poster to decorate their tent containing a message about NAIDOC Week and what it means to them.
WIRADJURI One of the largest indigenous language groupings in New South Wales. Lands once included the larger river systems of N.S.W., the Murray, Murrumbidgee (Big water) Lachlan and Macquarie rivers.

Back row from left: Penny Macdonald, Bronwyn Roll, Corrine Carter, Neil Evers, Dave Lardner, Next row from left: Robyn Corroto, Vicki Johnson, Kurt Hammon, Russell Phelps, Craig Kerslake, Students from left: Oliver Scheuring, Tom Braund, Abbey Slater, Cooper Darmopil-Kerslake. Between Posts from left: Laurie Bimson, Mark Ullman, Andrew Weeks, Gary McMurray (squatting). 

 Neil Evers giving the Welcome to Country, 29th of June, 2012