Sydney parish honours Indigenous leaders

The busts of Bennelong and Barangaroo at St Patrick’s, Church Hill (The Catholic Weekly/Giovanni Portelli)

A Sydney parish has unveiled what is believed to be the first statues honouring an Aboriginal couple who were community leaders during the early days of the colony of New South Wales. Source: The Catholic Weekly.

NSW Governor Margaret Beazley unveiled the two bronze sculptures honouring Aboriginal leaders Bennelong and Barangaroo in a ceremony on December 12 in the courtyard of St Patrick’s parish, Church Hill.

The sculptures were a labour of love over many months for Sydney sculptor Roger Apte. He worked under the guidance of Theresa Ardler, an Eora woman who is the director of Gweagal Cultural Connections, an organisation which provides Aboriginal spirituality and cultural lessons for school-aged children.

“Seeing my ancestors acknowledged in this way makes me very proud indeed. Both Bennelong and Barangaroo left a great mark on society at that time. Now, 250 years later, they’re still very well known and loved,” Ms Ardler said.

A senior man of the Eora people, Bennelong served as a mediator between the Eora and the British in the late 18th and early 19th century and travelled with Governor Arthur Phillip to England in 1792.

His wife Barangaroo was also a leader of the Eora nation who provided for the clan’s men with fish caught in and around Sydney Harbour.

Parish priest Fr Michael Whelan said he hoped the new sculptures remind Sydney Catholics of the long custodianship which many generations of Indigenous people have maintained with the land.


St Patrick’s parish honours Indigenous leaders (By Michael Kenny, The Catholic Weekly

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