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Appin Massacre Memorial Ceremony 2014

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A time of healing, reflection and respect
This is an annual ceremonial event which honours, respects and remembers at least 14 Dharawal people who perished on April 17th, 1816.

The 2014 Appin Massacre Memorial Ceremony will be held at Cataract Dam picnic area on Sunday, April 13th. The event will begin at 12pm and will include a traditional welcome, a remembrance walk, a smoking ceremony and performances by talented locals.

There is a free sausage BBQ lunch, and this is a fantastic opportunity to chat with friendly locals, some of whom are direct descendants of the Dharawal people.

All are welcome to attend and it involves a short walk to the site.

Dharawal traditional dancing 2013
Ceremony site, Cataract Dam
Ceremony site, Cataract Dam

Dharawal History

The Dharawal people are the traditional custodians of the area south of Botany Bay down as far as Goulburn and Nowra, and the Georges River, west of Appin.

The Dharawal people who lived by the 'rivers that ran backwards' - the Georges and the Nepean River -were known as the sweet-water people. They hunted and gathered nomadically and respected the land for over 40, 000 years. The Dharawal people were friendly and passive people.

Dharawal land was abundant with resources, and by 1813, Europeans began settling, renaming it "Cowpastures". Relationships had become tense by mid 1814 when two Aboriginals were shot at resulting in one death. Further hostilities resulted, however this hostility was thought to be with other Aboriginal groups displaced from the mountains, during the drought, not the original passive Dharawal inhabitants.

In 1814, Governor Macquarie issued John Warby to remove "hostile" natives. Warby had explored the Cowpastures, and established a close working relationship with two Dharawal men, Budbury and Bundle. Budbury and Bundle, Warby and Hume showed distaste and disappeared, and attempted to confuse the whereabouts of the Dharawal people.

In 1816, a Dharawal camp was located and at least 14 Dharawal men and women were shot, trampled under horse hooves, and driven over the cliffs of Broughton Pass by Captain Wallis, as ordered by Governor Macquarie.

Broughton Pass
Broughton Pass, Appin
The actual number of deaths is unknown, but it is far more than the 14 recorded.

Cultural Significance

Most significant is that the Dharawal people lost their traditional pattern of nomadic lifestyle, after the massacre. They were no longer allowed to carry weapons, which hindered their hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Spiritual connection and reciprocity with the land was lost. Passports were issued to Aborigines who conducted themselves "in an appropriate manner" to receive land and supplies. Many died from small pox and influenza.

All members of the public are encouraged to support, respect and honour this culturally significant event; to respect the true resilience of the Dharawal people and present Elder's passion for reconciliation, healing, education and restoring cultural links for the broader community.

Appin Massacre Memorial plaque
photo courtesy of
Appin Massacre Memorial Ceremony 2014
Winga Myamly Reconciliation Group

This event is hosted by the Winga Myamly Reconciliation Group, and supported by Campbelltown and Wollondilly Councils.
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Why? Annual memorial event respecting at least 14 Dharawal people who perished in the Appin Massacre in 1816
When: Sunday April 13th, 12pm - 3.30 pm
Phone: 9605 4540 or 0447 581 306
Where: Cataract Dam picnic area, Appin
Cost: FREE
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