Indigenous Elders and members of local Indigenous groups, church and political leaders and community members gathered on Saturday, February 3, to officially commission a combined Yarning Circle and Outdoor Labyrinth in the grounds of Gosford Anglican Church.
Among those present were Member for Gosford Liesl Tesch, Assistant Bishop of Newcastle Charlie Murry, Indigenous leaders from Bara Barang and Mingaletta Aboriginal groups and members of the community.
The beautifully landscaped outdoor labyrinth with an Indigenous yarning circle at its centre is located in front of the Anglican Church in Mann St, Gosford, and was constructed by local landscaper Dave O’Brien, a Yorta Yorta man.
His landscaping business, Developing Leaders, employs and mentors youth and men who are facing life’s challenges.
He spoke of the opportunities the project provided to combine on-the-job training with moments to also sit and “yarn” with the men about choosing positive life pathways.
Sandy Green from Gosford Anglican Church, who managed the project, said that the vision had been to create an inclusive and sacred space which acknowledged the traditional custodians of the land, and provide a point of connection between Indigenous and non-Indigenous spirituality.
“It was Dave O’Brien who showed us how perfectly a yarning circle fitted within the labyrinth,” she said.
“It was also built as a lasting memorial to St John’s Anglican Church, Point Clare, which closed its doors in 2018, after 80 years of service to the community.”
Bishop Charlie Murry praised the initiative of the church for walking with its Indigenous brothers and sisters towards reconciliation and justice.
Larry Trudgett, from Bara Barang Corporation, said he believed that creating a place which had cultural and spiritual significance for both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people was unique on the Central Coast.
He expressed the hope that more places like this might be built in the future.
Perhaps the highlight of the day was an Aboriginal smoking ceremony performed by Chris Thew, also from Bara Barang.
“We hear a lot of talk about makarrata, coming together after a struggle, and it is our hope that in some small way this space may provide a place for makarrata to take place,” Green said.
“A place where anyone can take time out to find harmony and peace; a place to acknowledge and pay respect to the first people who cared for our beautiful land; and a place of restoration, healing, renewal and reconciliation.”
She invited all members of the public, Indigenous or non-Indigenous, people of faith or no faith at all, to visit this sacred place for quiet reflection and meditation, or respectful and healing conversations and “yarning”.