The Manna Gums on the Malmsbury-Daylesford Road in Daylesford mark the site for an Aboriginal Peoples Memorial Avenue opened at the conclusion of NAIDOC Week.

Mayor, Cr Lesley Hewitt, said the memorial is an opportunity to honour the loss of lives, the sacrifice and suffering inflicted on Aboriginal people during the frontier wars.

“This year’s NAIDOC theme is Heal Country and we hope this Memorial is a step forward in healing Country and healing people, acknowledging that the two are deeply connected.”

“Council is taking a leading role in honouring the lives and acknowledging the suffering of Aboriginal people in our region. Acts of reconciliation such as this change attitudes to settlement and show a willingness to work together for a better future,” said Cr Hewitt.

The establishment of this Avenue of Honour is a public acknowledgement, the first of its kind in our country.

Rodney Carter, Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation CEO, said “The Frontier Wars Memorial Avenue affords a greater recognition to our fallen Ancestors and helps us all heal”.

This is an initiative of the Hepburn Shire Council Reconciliation Action Plan Advisory Committee. For a link to video of the opening visit

Mayor's Speech Opening Manna Gum Frontier Wars Memorial

ln Australia, Avenues of Honour were first planted after the First World War to honour the lives, the service, the sacrifice and the suffering of those who fought in conflicts and so that we who come after can remember and acknowledge those whose lives were lost. Recently Avenues of Honour were expanded to include commemorative trees and so we are fortunate in Hepburn Shire to have several avenues – Daylesford, Dean, Drummond, Kingston, and a commemorative tree in Clunes.

It is therefore fitting that we come together today on the traditional lands of the Dja Dja Wurrung to acknowledge and commemorate the Australian Frontier Wars. This is a term that has been applied by some historians to describe the violent conflicts that occurred between Aboriginal people and white settlers following the British colonisation of Australia. These conflicts occurred from January 1788 and the landing of the First Fleet until as late as 1934. And these conflicts occurred here on Dja Dja Wurrung Land in Hepburn Shire. You will hear more about these specific conflicts later in the morning from Erica Higgins, an Aboriginal woman and Yandoit resident.

This year, the theme for reconciliation week earlier in the year was “Take Action”. The theme for NAIDOC Week was “Heal Country”. ln line with that it is fitting that we come together today on the traditional lands of the Dja Dja Wurrung and in front of these beautiful old manna gums, which thankfully survived the recent storms, to open this war memorial and to place a wreath as we do on other occasions such as ANZAC Day when we remember the lives lost and sacrifices made in war and conflict. I want to acknowledge the courage that it takes for us to face the dark depths of history we share in Hepburn Shire. This memorial, which sits here at last in this magnificent stand of manna gums and located in proximity to Daylesford’s Avenue of Honour, will be an ongoing acknowledgement of and reminder to those of us who live here now and generations to come, that the Dja Dja Wurrung, the traditional owners of this land, were subject to violence – some killed, some moved and all dispossessed.

ln recognising and honouring that suffering and loss in the same spirit that our community does in our other avenues of honour, we acknowledge the hurt, commit to truth telling, say that we are sorry for that hurt and loss (and mean it) and work together towards a future that shares both the knowledge and the prosperity of the land.

ln coming together today, me as the Mayor, representing the people of Hepburn Shire Council and Rodney Carter, the CEO of the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Corporation, to lay a wreath in recognition of our history, we are being true to the themes of Reconciliation Week –“Take Action” and NAIDOC Week – “Heal Country”. Again I am humbled by the generosity of spirit shown by the Djaara people and l want to also acknowledge and thank Erica Higgins whose idea and passion led this project and Donna Spiller, those members of the Reconciliation Action Plan Advisory Committee, both officers and councillors past and present whose courage and commitment made this action happen here today.