Monday, 25 October 2010

On Friday my mother and I will drive out of Queensland and up into the ranges heading for New England to attend a public meeting at the memorial hall - a jaunty little timber structure with two rooms and the lavatory block out the back next to an overgrown tennis court - near the Myall Creek Memorial site. It's a seven-hour drive and my mother says she will be able to handle it. I don't doubt it despite the fact that she has been slowing down a bit over the past couple of weeks and the nana naps are getting longer and arriving earlier. She thinks it might be psychosomatic because the antibiotics the doctors prescribed for her had no effect.

She hasn't been to Glen Innes before. I planned to stay at the New England Motor Lodge on the main street opposite the incredible heritage-listed former Catholic convent building that was sold, I believe, to private interests about a year ago. But they're not answering their phone and there's a sign on the website saying it's up for sale. So I booked in elsewhere. There are plenty of restaurants in the vicinity where dinner can be purchased at a reasonable cost.

The reason for the public meeting at this time is to enable discussions surrounding the planned educational and cultural centre at Myall Creek. The memorial rock was built in 2000 but the committee in charge of the now heritage-listed site have harboured more sophisticated plans for several years. The building they're looking at constructing now on the south east corner of the intersection of the Whitlow and Bingara/Delungra Roads will be permanently staffed and contain facilities suitable to accommodate tourist groups.
The Centre will be equipped with the latest interactive technology to portray visually and aurally the history of contact between Aboriginal people and early settlers across Australia. It is also intended to house artifacts and other cultural materials of local Aboriginal people, and provide space where groups of students and other visitors may watch video materials, hear presentations and participate in discussions. The plans include a manager’s residence, a kiosk, and large parking area capable of accommodating tourist coaches.
The meeting was called because the committee is "keen to learn the views of the local community". This consultative approach has characterised proceedings from the beginning, even before the memorial site was developed, starting with meetings held in late 1998 that were advertised locally and attended by people from both black and white communities.

So we two will take in the views while driving south, stay Friday night in Glen Innes and then get to the memorial hall on Saturday, mid-morning. These meetings usually take a few hours only and we are likely to be eating lunch on the road back home.

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