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Community & Business

8 April, 2022

The Meeting Place

The Joy Trudgett Gallery and ‘The Meeting Place’, has recently received over $300,000 in funding in support of the project.

By Emily Middleton

The Joy Trudgett Gallery and The Meeting Place will be part of the Coo-ee Heritage Centre, situated on the Newell Highway towards Dubbo.

The gallery will include a living museum, celebrating the achievements of the Gilgandra Aboriginal community, as well as a reflection on the history, community art, and artifacts.

Aboriginal community member Gail Naden, is excited for the gallery and its potential to reflect the communities history.

“I think the precinct will be good at retelling Aboriginal stories, and what we address on a day-to-day basis,” said Gail.

The gallery will include a wall acknowledging Aboriginal community members, who have made significant achievements in recent history.

“It will be a place where we can actually see the living history, and a place of recognition. It’s lovely that there will be an update of the precinct so that it is relevant to the community of today.”

The Meeting Place will include a yarn circle, fire pit, bush tucker garden, and educational space, to encourage people from all over to meet in Gilgandra and learn about it’s indigenous history. Gail explained that Gilgandra is made up of three different Aboriginal communities, the Wiradjuri, Kamilaroi and Wailwan nations. Hence the idea of “The Meeting Place” within the heritage centre, came about.

“It’s where communities are connected, and it will always be a continuous meeting place. This precinct will highlight what Gilgandra has, and what the people along the Castlereagh have contributed to this community. There’s a lot of nations within this community, whether it’s Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal.

“Having this precinct in the community will highlight the fact that there are Aboriginal people who have living memories of those people and their descendants within this community. It will be a positive thing in the Aboriginal community, and for people to acknowledge that there are people in this town that have grown the town as well,” said Gail.

“There’s been a lot of transition over this period of time, people come and go, but Aboriginal people will always be part of this land because this is who we are.”

The Joy Trudgett Gallery concept ideas and plans have been created in consultation with the Aboriginal community, and due to this, Gail believes it will have a new focus.

“It will be more evident of another generation of people, even though there are people who have passed, there will be another generation of people who are coming through and who are working in the community.

“It sounds like there are people who will contribute to the project eventually down the track, and it’ll be great to reflect on all the current and historical issues.”

The gallery and meeting place will be unique to Gilgandra, with this cultural precinct being one of its kind. “It’s the uniqueness of living in a small community, that comes together to support each other, and I think we do, as a collective, people in Gilgandra, we all come to support each other in whatever field,” said Gail.

While the excitement of the grant funding lingers, Gail still has her reservations.

“Unfortunately, I am disappointed in the project not employing local people. A lot of the project is being outsourced from non-locals, and local people are expected to volunteer. That’s not giving us the opportunity to feed back into the economy of Gilgandra,” said Gail.

“We are firsthand knowledge givers, and people have given their time and information freely, but there is not an expectancy of full-time employment of Aboriginal people in the cultural centre. At this point in time.”

Gilgandra Shire Council have said that local resources will be used in the construction of the gallery and meeting place.

The $305,450 grant comes under the NSW government regional tourism acceleration fund. Gilgandra Shire Council have complimented the contribution with an $80,849 investment.

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