NAIDOC week celebrations in Parkes concluded last Friday morning with the opening of a Wiradjuri cultural garden at Bushman's Hill.
Named the Garradyang Cultural Garden, Parkes Shire Deputy Mayor Barbara Newton, along with representatives of the Wiradjuri working group and local students officially opened the garden as heavy rain and lightning struck a spectacular backdrop to the event.
Cr Newton, who has been present at many of the Council's NAIDOC week events, was pleased with the introduction of a cultural garden.
"The Wiradjuri Garden aims to increase community awareness of local Wiradjuri culture and history," said Cr Newton.
"A masterplan has been developed for the Bushman's Hill precinct by Parkes Shire Council, and the inclusion of the Cultural Garden is included to celebrate the vision of the precinct.
"A Wiradjuri Amphitheatre is already established in the Bushman's Hill precinct, and the Amphitheatre was created to celebrate the Wiradjuri Culture and is used as a meeting place," explained Cr Newton.
The official opening was particularly timely with NAIDOC week in full swing.
The theme for NAIDOC week: 'Always Was, Always Will Be;' celebrates Australia's ancient history and traditions and cultures which endure to this day.
Indeed the name 'Garradyang', which was nominated by the working group and endorsed by students from five local Parkes schools affiliated with the NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group, reflects the original Wiradjuri name for the Parkes region.
Geoff Anderson from the Parkes Wiradjuri Language Group explained that 'Garradyang' comes from the Currajong trees that are so prominent around Parkes and can be used to make almost anything; from baskets to medicine.
Geoff also cheekily suggested to Cr Newton that Bushman's Hill could be renamed to include Garradyang as a joint name; something Newton was initially receptive to.
The garden opening included a traditional Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony conducted by Kevin Bloomfield, who did the same at the Library opening earlier in the day.
Designed by local landscape designer, Elizabeth Briton, the garden showcases plants commonly used by the Wiradjuri people in their day to day life for food, medicine, tool making and other purposes.
The design and choice of plants was overseen by a working group compromising local Wiradjuri residents and council staff passionate about raising awareness for Wiradjuri history and culture.
The students have been invited to take part in the ongoing planting and maintenance of the garden.
This project was a value-add component of the Council's Recycled Water Scheme project that was partly funded by the Australian Government through the National Stronger Regions Fund.