Peter's Blog

Coffin Bay meeting breaks ground

Mr TRELOAR (Flinders) (15:30): I rise today to talk about an event I attended in the electorate of Flinders last week, during National Reconciliation Week. Reconciliation Australia this year invited all Australians to learn more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and history and to share that knowledge and help us grow as a nation.

‘Don’t keep history a mystery: Learn. Share. Grow’ they say explores history hidden just beneath the surface, ready and waiting to be uncovered and that this National Reconciliation Week, which of course was last week, we learn more about the Australian story. I was fortunate enough to be granted a pair last Wednesday night from the parliament to fly to Port Lincoln to attend a forum in Coffin Bay entitled, ‘An Introduction to the Aboriginal history of Coffin Bay and Eyre Peninsula with the Nauo people and others’.

We were invited to meet and greet with Nauo Aboriginal people and to learn about the history of Coffin Bay and Eyre Peninsula from a Nauo perspective. We had the opportunity to ask questions and share personal knowledge about the shared history of a beautiful place, significant to many people, including to me. In my humble opinion, Coffin Bay is the most exquisite place in the world, but I may be biased.

The Hon. D.J. Speirs interjecting:

Mr TRELOAR: I have support from the Minister for Environment here. The forum was attended by almost 100 people. There was an interesting cross-section of people from Lower Eyre Peninsula of all ages and occupations, including, I noticed, some descendants of the very earliest of European settlers on Eyre Peninsula. My congratulations go to Mr Brian Witty, who facilitated the evening. Amongst other things, he writes at the outset:

It is hoped that this is the beginning of an era of deeper knowledge, harmony and respect acknowledging Nauo History and Culture. And the organisers hope that in the not too distant future Coffin Bay residents and visitors alike will gain an appreciation of our shared history and legacy.

I attended and, after acknowledging Reconciliation Week and passing on a message from our Premier, I made the point that across Eyre Peninsula we are familiar with many people, including the Wirangu, who occupy the Far West Coast; the Kokatha, who occupied the Gawler Ranges; the Barngarla people, who inhabited EP proper; the Mirning people, who lived on the Nullarbor Plain; and the Anangu Pitjantjatjara people, who relocated to Yalata following the atomic testing in the fifties. This is all according to Tyndale’s work published in the 1940s.

However, very little is known about the Nauo people. I was aware of the people. My assumption was that they lived in an area around Coffin Bay, and certainly that seems to be the centre of their activity. We were addressed by speakers such as Dr Scott Cane, a local anthropologist and archaeologist, who very ably described the connection to Central Australia that the Nauo people had through the dream lines, who through generations had formed not just trade lines but lines of language and family.

Dr Belinda Liebelt, an anthropologist and historian, was there. She is also preparing a native title submission on behalf of the Nauo people. Jody Miller represented the Nauo people as an elder, and I know Jody and have done so for some years. Brenton Weetra and Auntie Pauline were there. A key point was that Scott Cane believed that it was the first time in the state, if not nationally, that a native title group had been invited to speak to a community. It was actually established by the people of Coffin Bay.

In the time left to me, I also want to quickly recognise the work of the District Council of Elliston to acknowledge the deaths of Aboriginal people at Waterloo Bay in May 1849 through its Reconciliation Monument Wording Project. It has been recognised at the National Local Government Awards, and the project has won the Promoting Indigenous Recognition category. It was not an easy debate for the Elliston community. Ultimately, a monument has been erected acknowledging the incident with appropriate wording, and certainly it will go a long way towards healing the rifts of the past.

Dr HARVEY: I note the state of the house.

A quorum having been formed: