The term "Stolen Generation" is used to refer to the thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who were forcefully taken from their families in the 1900's and possibly even earlier. These years mark a bleak and painful episode in Australia's history, and many people still live with the after-effects of what happened to them during that time. In the Australian Botanic Gardens in Mount Annan, there is a memorial walk that acknowledges those affected.
You will find yourself on a flat dirt path. On either side there are plaques on the ground with quotes from people of the Stolen Generation. Here is one of the more poignant statements I read:
'There are still a lot of unresolved issues within me. One of the biggest ones is I can't really love anyone no more. I'm sick of being hurt. Every time I used to get close to anyone they were just taken away from me'.
Ahead, in a clearing in the bush you will find the Stolen Generations monument, carved in Hawkesbury sandstone. It depicts a family, and at the base of the monument there are two sets of footprints – those of an adult and those of a child. A board at the sight explains the significance of this. The small footprints represent the child being taken from it's family, while the large ones represent the grown adult coming back to find his or her roots.
The memorial, stone footprints and the symbolic rear of the sculpture
The back panel of the monument depicts a thundercloud and rain called up by the Rainbow Serpent, who is distraught over the pain caused to his people. A water feature makes up part of the memorial as well. It was created to represent the tears of sorrow shed by those of the Stolen Generation.
Visitors are invited to scoop up water, trickle it over the sculpture, and imagine the experiences of the Stolen Generation - and in doing so realise the importance of making Australia a place for peace and healing.
Continue the walk through the bush over more boardwalk and a small stream. Take a moment to observe some of the species that make up the bush here. It is comprised mostly of Cumberland Plain Woodland - a critically endangered type of bush land here in Sydney.
I don't exaggerate when I say that this walk is a moving experience. It's quiet location allows for powerful reflection on the value of the family unit in our society, and the importance of showing respect towards all people.
Up until the sculpture, the site is wheelchair accessible, but not beyond that point. Easily find the entry to the walk marked by a signboard on your left as you drive into the centre of the gardens.
This is a really well written article. It is really respectful of the Stolen Generation and very thoughtfully written and presented. Well done Rota. It sounds like a truly beautiful place to visit and to reflect on family and on the people of the Stolen Generation.