THE New South Wales Governor, Marie Bashir, ignored the downpour to officially launch the Blue Mountains Crossings Bicentenary program in Katoomba at the weekend.
Delivering her address in a marquee only metres from a mist and rain-obscured Three Sisters, Professor Bashir had no doubt about the significance of the three year celebrations of which she is the official patron.
“I cannot help but think out of all the wonderful events and celebrations I’ve attended this will stand in my memory as one of the most memorable, one of the most real and one that has brought everyone together.
“I wish the whole of Australia could see what is happening here today,” Professor Bashir said.
The crossings celebrations had the potential to be a unifying event, she said.
“May the next three years, the next 300, the next 3000 be as they are today: all of us together going forward as one people.”
Earlier, Darug elder Aunty Carol Cooper said in her Welcome to Country it was important the crossings celebrations showed respect for Aboriginal culture.
“It’s a great thing [the bicentenary] … without them [the explorers] crossing, we would not have today so please don’t me let take anything away from it.
“All I’m asking is for a little bit of respect,” she said.
Member for Blue Mountains Roza Sage said the 1813 crossing was a crucial turning point for the young nation.
“As we all know the crossing of the Blue Mountains by explorers Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth in 1813 was the pivotal event for the new colony of NSW at that time — and for Australia as we know it today,” she said.
“It was the foresight, vision and leadership of that other great governor, Lachlan Macquarie, that opened up the west with the building of the first road, Cox’s Road, soon after the exploration and crossing by the three explorers.”
Blue Mountains Mayor Daniel Myles acknowledged that European settlement brought difficulties for the indigenous population but stressed the positive potential of the crossings bicentenary.
“The history of our nation is incredibly important.
“It needs to be understood, acknowledged, respected — all parts of it — and together we can use that to create the future.
“We can’t change the past, but we can understand it and work together to make a much better future,” he said.
Linden bush poet Greg North performed his specially commissioned poem about the crossings while Wendy Blaxland, a descendant of Gregory Blaxland, introduced a world premiere performance of an excerpt of her play, Crossing.
The VIP audience was also treated to a performance of a brass fanfare composed by former Blue Mountains Grammar student Haydn Walker to mark the crossings bicentenary.
Blue Mountains Lithgow and Oberon Tourism chairman Randall Walker thanked the business community for its support of the crossings bicentenary.
He singled out former Scenic World managing director Philip Hammon and Leura’s Tom Colless for their contributions.
Major events planned for the bicentenary this year include a re-enactment of the crossing in May and the largest flyover in Australia’s history of the Blue Mountains on May 25.
NSW GOVERNOR Marie Bashir was joined by an enthusiastic group of players in the looming celebrations, including descendants of the explorers, when she officially launched the bicentenary program. lm022513crossing
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