Red, yellow and black flew high as far as the eye could see on Monday morning, as the Eden Local Aboriginal Land Council kicked off NAIDOC Week celebrations by raising the Aboriginal flag at the main roundabout.
Indigenous and non-indigenous locals alike turned out in their droves to witness the event, led by Pastor Ossie Cruse, who raised the flag after a stirring Welcome to Country that centred on this year’s NAIDOC theme of Serving Country.
Such was the turnout, traffic began to bank up along Imlay Street as the crowd moved into the roundabout for a photo for the Magnet.
Handheld Aboriginal flags, handed out to the gathered crowd, were also waved proudly.
Pastor Cruse was particularly moved by the number of young people attending the ceremony, remarking, “Just look at all these kids”.
“Today I want to isolate one part of our history,” he said while delivering his Welcome to Country.
“We’re here today to remember all the Aboriginal people who served our country in the armed forces.
“Aboriginal people, men and women, have served in every war that Australia has been involved with.
“There have been many, and as we raise the flag today, we remember them with pride.”
Ossie made particular mention of those who served during the era of conscription, including his mother’s uncle, Harry Thorpe, and his grandfather, Percy Pepper.
“Aboriginal people could not be conscripted, because they were not recognised as citizens,” he said.
“But they volunteered to go and fight for this country, and many of them died overseas.
“This week is a time to recognise what they have done for us.”
The Eden Aboriginal Land Council’s NAIDOC Week celebrations continue on Monday morning with memorial tree planting at Jigamy Farm, followed by morning tea.
A community fun day will be also be held at the Keeping Place on Wednesday, with activities including a jumping castle, indigenous games, face painting, boomerang decorating and basket weaving from 10.30am until 2.30pm.
Tea, coffee, damper and a sausage sizzle will be provided on the day, while AJN oysters will be on sale.
A free bus is available for those needing transport, departing from Cassie’s Store on Barclay Street at 10am and stopping at the West Street bus stop on the way, before returning to Eden at 2.30pm.