Smoking ceremony

Smoking ceremony


Whatever you might call the simultaneous celebration and commemoration of a war of invasion for which we take a holiday today – whether you call it Australia Day, Invasion Day or Survival Day – one thing is certain … and that is that the jingoism of decades past has lessened, and there are equal parts pride in the achievements of the Australian nation and shame in acknowledging the harm done – and still being done – to our First Australians.

Sydney School of Arts & Humanities, located in the midst of The Rocks at Millers Point, acknowledges the Gadigal (Darug and Eora language) people’s original and continuing connection with the land on which our school stands. And we are extremely grateful for the indigenous smoking ceremony carried out this morning stretching from Barangaroo to the Opera House, a healing gift for all who live, work or visit the area.

Dancers from the ceremony were kind enough to allow us to photograph them – as a reminder of this generous healing ritual. A reminder too of the Millers Point mob.

figs & sandstone buildings at Barangaroo

Sydney sandstone

Millers Point

Photo credits and copyright Christine Williams.


  1. 27 January, 2017 at 5:58 am

    I was there and it was very moving and the singing up country " make good dreaming" with community choirs gave me goosebumps! SOmeone bravely waved a placard with a plea; "please change the date" a polite reasonable and long justified request. Aparently the first reqest to change date was 1938! It takes too long down here to get the hard things done. , but do them we must. I wanted to march after the ceremony, under a banner " a gentle plea to change the date."

    Reply »
    1. 27 January, 2017 at 8:03 pm

      To get change you need a person of the calibre of Martin Luther King or Mandella or Ghandi. Ragbir

      Reply »
  2. 27 January, 2017 at 8:50 pm

    London Protest Calls on Westminster MPs: Return the Gweagal Shield and spears to their owners London, January 26th 2017: London : Australians in London and anti-racism supporters held a protest at 8am on the morning of Invasion Day (26 January London Time, evening Australian time). The group gathered at Westminster Bridge, the river bank opposite Big Ben, London marking the 229th anniversary of the British First Fleet landing in Sydney and calling on British parliementarians to return the Gweagle shield stolen by Lt. James Cook upon first contact with Indigenous Australians as a symbolic act of reparation. "We respectfully ask British politicians in Westminster to acknowledge the unresolved imperial legacy of colonisation. We call on British MPs to add their voice for decolonisation of Australia by supporting the return of the Gweagal Shield and spears to Rodney Kelly and the Gweagal people to whom these artifacts belong." January 26th marks the founding of the first British convict colony of New South Wales on stolen land, the commencement of the frontier wars against the first nations of the continent and the ongoing process of dispossession and genocide perpetrated against the indigenous population of the continent. Each year Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their supporters hold Survival Day and Invasion Day commemorations across Australia. The groundswell of support to change the date of the official national holiday gathers pace in Australia. Karol Florek, London-Australia Solidarity Hub The Gweagal shield and spears were taken by gunfire, collected as war trophies by James Cook's expedition in 1770 following the first armed confrontation between the British and first nations people in Australia. Rodney Kelly is the descendant of the Gweagal warrior Coonan who confronted Captain James Cook's landing party who arrived in Botany Bay 18 years prior to the First Fleet. In November 2016, Mr Kelly visited the United Kingdom with a delegation to meet with museum directors in London and Cambridge to demand repatriation of the cultural artifacts stolen by Cook. These objects are currently displayed in the British Museum and the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology of Cambridge University. Earlier his week Australians in London and anti-racism supporters peacefully picketed two events organised by the Australian government to deliver a message that Australia Day is Invasion Day and that there is no pride in celebrating genocide. These actions were carried out to support the Aboriginal call for 7 Days of Resistance in the lead-up to Australia's national holiday on January 26. These peaceful pickets condemned the Australian Government for its racist policies towards Aboriginal people and its shameful human rights record, including racist policies towards vulnerable migrant groups especially refugees. Around the world, Australians with the support of human rights defenders in host countries have been taking actions to raise awareness among the global community about the Australian Government's human rights abuses.

    Reply »

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