JENNY Brown writes that ”many ancient Aboriginal gathering spaces remain public spaces” (”Dancing in the park”, Domain, 10/11), but fails to mention the most spectacular historic Aboriginal corroboree grounds located on the grassland hilltop north of the Royal Children’s Hospital in Royal Park. Records of the Le Souef family, directors of Melbourne Zoo, and the Meaker family, Royal Park rangers and bailiffs – both spanning 70 years or so from the mid-19th to early 20th century – have accounts and photos of ”tribal dancing” in Royal Park. William Barak, the last traditional Aboriginal leader, was reported to have often visited the area. (The last group of Aborigines was moved from Royal Park to Coranderrk in 1904.)
The tragedy is that the Baillieu government plans to construct the east-west link, a four-lane tollway, through the heart of Royal Park, which will destroy the traditional corroboree site. Drilling rigs are now obtaining soil samples along the proposed route. Even this represents a form of sacrilege.
Australians should not only be commemorating the fallen in wars on Armistice Day and Anzac Day but remembering and honouring the indigenous people of Melbourne driven out of their traditional lands by white settlers.
Julianne Bell, Protectors of Public Lands Victoria, Parkville, The Age, 12 November 2012