His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Ret’d), Governor of New South Wales and his wife, Mrs Linda Hurley, visited Coonabarabran on Monday, 11 September, where they helped celebrate the unveiling of “The Gathering Place” at Coonabarabran High School.
While in Coonabarabran, Governor Hurley also visited clients at Break Thru and took a scenic drive to the Warrumbungle National Park to view construction of the new Visitor Centre.
Later in the week, the Governor travelled to Narrabri and Gunnedah on his tour of the north-west.
Prior to his appointment as Governor, His Excellency served for 42 years in the Australian Army, concluding his service as the Chief of the Defence Force.
He was appointed a Companion within the Order of Australia in 2010 for eminent service to the Australian Defence Force, and had been awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his leadership during Operation SOLACE in Somalia in 1993.
As the 38th Governor of NSW, His Excellency commenced a five year tenure in 2014, taking over from Professor The Hon. Dame Marie Bashir AD, CVO.
The Gathering Place
In the lead up to Monday’s event at Coonabarabran High, Governor Hurley said he was looking forward to joining the local Aboriginal community and students for the official opening.
Students had the opportunity to showcase their talents, with Jayden Moore and Travis Tighe on didgeridoo, and the Dhiiyaan Performance Dance Troupe performing the Honey Bee Dance.
While Suellen Tighe delivered the Welcome to Country address, Myra Cain paid tribute to her late sister, Monica Kershaw, who was the initial driving force behind The Gathering Place.
As Aboriginal education officer at Coona High from 1999 to 2003, it was Monica’s dream to have a special Aboriginal garden and meeting place, nestled on the edge of the bush.
In 2016 her wish came true, with a successful grant application that included the establishment of The Gathering Place.
Coonabarabran High principal, Mel Johnston, said the project had been a collaborative endeavour.
“On behalf of the school, I would like to thank the Aboriginal community for their ongoing support we receive for our students,” Mr Johnston said.
“The commitment you have shown, building partnerships and promoting respectful relationships amongst our students, has contributed to the success of all of our students in the school.
“The Gathering Place will provide a connection between past, present and future for our students, and provide a perspective that celebrates the resilience and the future of our Aboriginal community.”
The garden itself was created by landscape designers from Dubbo, with large sandstone slabs sourced from Mendooran.
There is plenty of seating, with further plans to incorporate a bush tucker garden.
Deputy principal, Mary Doolan, said given the centrality of sharing stories and yarning in Indigenous culture, it was very fitting that the community had come together to share the event.
“I am sure that this special place will enrich our school community in years to come,” Mrs Doolan said.
Coonabarabran High School principal, Mel Johnston, Aboriginal elder, Aunty Maureen Sulter, Warrumbungle Shire Council mayor, Peter Shinton, Mrs Linda Hurley, NSW Governor David Hurley, Aboriginal education officer, Allison Stanton, and Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet senior advisor, Gargi Ganguly, at the unveiling of The Gathering Place at Coonabarabran High on Monday, 11 September.