Massacre memorials must happpen in Australia
"I'M INTERESTED in the fact people have suffered in Australia and we were never told.”
This is what pushed Maree Beek to attend the Myall Creek Massacre memorial, four hours drive from Casino on the June long weekend.
In 1838 white settlers murdered 28 Aboriginal men, women and children near Myall Creek Station. The massacre is a reminder of Australia's colonial violence and one of the rare cases where killers were tried and hanged.
Maree wanted to witness the commemoration of this massacre, the most well known one in Australia because it was the first time justice was served.
She'd also like to see massacres at other places in Australia honoured in the same way.
This includes the massacre at Evans Head where more than 100 Bundjalung people were murdered.
"It's good for us to know,” Maree said.
"You can't be Australian and be here without knowing the history.”
Understanding the 'bloody' history answers a lot of questions about racism, she said.
The weekend at Myall Creek was a "moving experience” for Maree and her husband.
"I'm interested in justice,” she said.
Artist Ben Quilty was at the memorial event. He is working on a project where he plans to paint all the massacre sites in Australia.
"This memorial service should be replicated all over the country,”Maree said.
She'd like to see the 1842 massacre of 100 Bundjalung Nation tribes-people at Evans Head by Europeans, said to have been in retaliation for the killing of 'a few sheep', or the killing of 'five European men' from the 1842 Pelican Creek tragedy, commemorated in some way.
The massacre is referred to as the Goanna Headland massacre.
Myall Creek Massacre Memorial organiser Hazel Davies said the Desert Pea Blood Flower was used to honour the history.
"Preceding the Flanders Poppy by millennia, the Desert Pea Blood flower does not seek to compete with the Anzac legend and the 102,000 who died defending their homeland,” she said.
"Making peas/ce campaigns nationally is for the same integrity and respect to be shown towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who perished on, or through defending their own country from authorised acts of colonial war, genocide, murder and terrorism.”
Local Bundjalung elders were contacted for comment.
To learn more about the massacre history read:
Rivers of blood : massacres of the Northern Rivers Aborigines and their resistance to the white occupation 1838 - 1870 by Rory Medcalf
Why weren't we told? by Henry Reynolds.