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NSW Governor Marie Bashir opens Widjabul Park


Zoe Satherley
27 April 2007
The Widjabul tribe of the Bundjalung Nation were honoured yesterday when NSW Governor Marie Bashir opened a park named for them at Southern Cross University.

Governor Bashir said she ‘applauded the vision and wisdom of everyone involved, especially my Indigenous sisters and brothers’ in the establishment of Widjabul Park which she called a ‘tranquil oasis that gives us a place to come and sit and be at peace with the world and to escape the stress of modern life’.

She spoke of the importance of the natural environment in promoting a state of emotional wellbeing, boosting the immune system and supporting a healthy heart, as well as paying her respects to the traditional custodians of the land.

“I would like to take this opportunity to record my respect for the traditional owners of this land and thank them from my heart and also to thank all of Australia’s Indigenous people who have been nurturing this great continent for thousands of years,” she said.

“It is great to live in a time when Aboriginal culture is being increasingly respected and valued and I hope and trust that this will continue to grow.

“We share the responsibility of preserving and halting the depletion of these irreplaceable resources that have sustained human life for thousands of years.

“The establishment of Widjabul Park might seem a small contribution to this goal but it is a very significant one.

“It showcases an outstanding example of a proud and harmonious community where everyone has pulled together – the Indigenous community, academics, staff, students and the combined Rotary clubs of Lismore who have sponsored and led this project from its inception.”

Widjabul Park is the result of a combined project by the University and the Rotary clubs of Lismore, Lismore West, Goonellabah, Lismore Central and Summerland Sunrise.

It was initially created as part of the University’s water catchment management plan.

The concept includes a lake which is a water bird habitat with a wildlife refuge island in the centre. Rainforest trees have been planted in the surrounding area, as has a rare Wollemi pine. There are also picnic tables and a barbecue area, funded by the combined Rotary clubs.

Rotary club members, University students, staff and members of the community joined together in 2005 and 2006 for tree-planting days in order to bring the project to completion. The project was overseen by the University’s Director of Facilities, Mike Cooper.

Photo: Widjabul Elders of the Bundjalung Nation meet with NSW Governor Marie Bashir at the opening of Widjabul Park. From left: Ann Roberts, Irene Harrington, NSW Governor Marie Bashir, Dorothy Gordon, June Gordon and Heather Ritchie.