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Murals and new book keep Lismore Showground's Indigenous history alive


Sharlene King
17 October 2014
Lismore Showground has been a gathering place for Aboriginal people for thousands of years. Now a new book that documents the significance of the area to the local Aboriginal people and the interpretive signs and murals commissioned to tell the story has been launched at the 2014 North Coast National Agricultural and Industrial Show.

‘Banyam/Baigham Wandarahn: Reconnecting to Lismore Showground’ by the Lismore Showground Aboriginal Heritage Signage Project Committee was launched yesterday (Thursday October 16) in the Bundjalung Elders Tent by Professor Barbara Rugendyke, Head of the School of Arts and Social Sciences at Southern Cross University, and SCU cultural studies researcher and Committee member Dr Rob Garbutt.

This project was funded by a School of Arts and Social Sciences Internal Research Grant, and extends a federal government Aboriginal Heritage Grant, obtained by the North Coast A&I Society, to create Aboriginal heritage signs at the Lismore Showground.

Dr Rob Garbutt said ‘Banyam/Baigham Wandarahn’ told two stories.

“One is about how the Showground site was a very important ceremonial meeting place, or wandarahn, for Bundjalung people, as well as for neighbouring Aboriginal Nations. The other is a story of how the Aboriginal heritage signs and mural at Lismore Showground were created. These were created through a wonderfully collaborative process, and this collaboration has continued through the excellent work of SCU media student Danielle Parmenter who designed this book.”

The Committee included local Aboriginal Elders, Uncle Mickey Ryan and Aunty Thelma James.

“Many people don’t know about the Aboriginal heritage, culture and history of this place [the Showground],” said Uncle Mickey Ryan.

“I hope people will read the stories in this book and educate themselves. I also hope the book encourages our children to be strong in their culture.”

The Committee created three interpretive signs, a large mural and a small sign to explain the mural. The murals were installed between December 2013 and June 2014, while the signs were installed in January this year.

Aunty Thelma James said there was more work to be done at the Showground.

“This book is the second stage of a project to tell the Aboriginal history of the area around Lismore Showground. The first stage was creating signs for the Showground near the Members’ Stand.

“In the third stage we are raising funds to put a shelter over the Showground signs,” Aunty Thelma said.

John Gibson, North Coast National A&I Society president, is a strong supporter of the project.

“It is fitting that the Lismore Showground continues to be an important meeting place for people from across Australia, just as it has been for thousands of years. This book tells that story.”

‘Banyam/Baigham Wandarahn: Reconnecting to Lismore Showground’ will be available for purchase from the Banyam/Baigham Art Space during the North Coast National, from Thursday October 16 to Saturday October 18. After that, the book will be available for sale from the Lismore Visitor Information Centre at 207 Molesworth Street, Lismore.

Photo: Cover of ‘Banyam/Baigham Wandarahn: Reconnecting to Lismore Showground’.