Heritage Week was celebrated all across Australia in the third week of April.
It was a beautiful autumn afternoon on Saturday 23rd April when Murchison and District Historical Society marked the occasion with the installation of two new interpretive panels in the town.
At the Murchison Cemetery there was a need to renew an ageing information board telling the story of the historic Aboriginal graves of King Charles Tattambo, Queen Mary and Captain John, so significant that they are listed on the Victorian Heritage Register.
Mr Vincent Peters, King Charles Tattambo and Queen Mary’s great-great-great- grandson, addressed the gathering on behalf of the family thanking the Murchison Historical Society for the invitation to the special unveiling service of the Tattambo Family History and Memorial plaque. He also thanked the Murchison Action Group for the funding the cost of the Interpretive Panel and the people of Murchison for making the family feel so welcome. Vincent expressed that the renewal of the families’ association with the Murchison region in the last few years, since rediscovering the link to Tattambo and Mary, has been a real joy to many family members.
In response to a request to explain the background to Welcome to Country, Vincent said, “Today Australia has a uniqueness with peoples from all over World as its inhabitants. It is estimated that – before colonization – that its Indigenous Nations numbered around 260 with more than 200 languages in use. In this time your country’s borders would neighbour many other countries – so it was usual to speak several languages and have celebration ceremonies for visitors. For Australia’s first peoples the Welcome to Country was a common cultural practice across the continent. It was like a permission visa to enjoy the offerings of the land with the sanction, the hospitality and the cultural exchange of the people you were visiting. All of the Aboriginal Nations had a recognised similar practice.”
Following this tradition he presented a moving account of the Acknowledgement and Welcome to Country.
The panel was then officially unveiled by Vincent and Stan McMaster, President of the Cemetery Trust, witnessed by 5th, 6th and 7th generations of family descendants.
Kay Ball, Vincent Peters and Stan McMaster after panel unveiled
Following this ceremony, a second interpretive panel was unveiled in the Riverside Gardens which outlined the story behind the Bills Water Trough.
George Bills was a wealthy man who, in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, had a successful business with his brothers making wire bed frames. During his life he was well known for his generosity to those around him who were in need. His wife Annis predeceased George by several years and, as they had no children, when George died in 1927, his Will directed the bulk of his estate to the welfare of animals. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) still administers the Trust today. One of the initiatives of the Trust was to make water troughs for horses and cattle dogs as a memorial to Annis and George Bills. These troughs were distributed all over Australia and overseas, mostly during the 1930’s. With the rise in motor transport the need for water troughs for horses declined and the troughs fell into disuse, as did the trough in Murchison. It spent some time on a local farm and was then retrieved by the Historical Society in 1988 and placed in the gardens where it continually attracts interest from visitors to our town.
The funds for the manufacture and installation of the new information panel were provided by Murchison Action Group (MAG). Gloria Polkinghorne spoke on behalf of MAG and outlined the important role the Group performs on behalf of the residents of Murchison and District. She strongly encouraged people to join this worthwhile Committee.
Gloria, with Kay Ball, President of Murchison and District Historical Society, then unveiled the panel. Afternoon tea was later enjoyed at the Heritage Centre by members of the Cemetery Trust, Murchison Action Group, Historical Society and descendants of King Charles Tattambo and Queen Mary.
Kay Ball, Karen Winter – President MAG and Gloria Polkinghorne at
Bills Trough Interpretive Panel.