The first of its kind in Australia, a new sacred site for Aboriginal burials will be officially opened in the wetlands of Woronora Cemetery on Thursday 11 October at 12.30am. Called “Kymea Ngura” meaning “sacred lily place”, the new site celebrates the Dharawal people’s presence in the Sutherland Shire.
“This area has a huge significance for the original inhabitants of the area and will be a place of both remembrance and learning for the entire community,” says Mr Les Bursill, OAM, co-creator of the site in conjunction with Woronora Cemetery. “In fact, while Kymea Ngura is dedicated to Aboriginal people, it will be open to anyone who wishes their cremated remains to rest here.”
Mr Bursill, himself an Elder of the Dharawal people, will formally welcome guests to the land, before the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Mr Victor Dominello turns the first sod at the ceremony which will be attended by dignitaries and other state and federal members.
“We chose this site, as it would have been a place where Aboriginal people traditionally gathered in the late 1700s, with its natural billabong, native plants and wildlife, overlooking the Woronora Valley. The Gymea lily was one of those native plants with its blood red colours being ritually significant,” said Mr Bursill.
When complete in around six months time, the sacred site will feature a duck pond, set in pristine bushland, reflecting this unique place of ceremony. As part of the sacred symbolism, the head and stem of a Gymea lily will be buried at the base of a stone wall surrounding the pond. The wall itself will replicate a large serpent and will intertwine with a walking path in a dreaming track configuration. Around the site, photos of rock art symbols and totemic animals from the area will bring its rich history to life.
According to Mr Bursill, the orca whale totem will feature prominently, representing a law-giver for the area.
A highlight of the opening ceremony will be the presentation of a limited edition Dharawal language book to honoured guests, several pages of which will feature at the site. Such is the historical significance of the book, meticulously compiled by Mr Bursill, that it will also be displayed at the State Library of NSW.
veryone in the community is invited to attend this historic opening,” said Mr Bursill. “It will be a day of great significance, not only for Aboriginal people and families in the Shire, but for all Australians.”
For further information and to arrange an interview please contact Monique Taylor at Blendmarketing on 0401 320 345.
Administered by Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust ABN: 13 806 606 081