A new space for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and people of all cultures, to meet, reflect, and tell their stories has opened at RAAF Base Amberley.

The Amberley Indigenous Cultural Precinct was opened with a ceremony involving local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders and Defence personnel.

The precinct includes a yarning circle and garden. They were opened with a Welcome to Country that included traditional Indigenous dancers and a smoking ceremony where friendly conversations and stories were shared.

The opening of the precinct was extremely important to RAAF Base Amberley Group Captain Iain Carty.

“This has been a journey for me over a number of years both at Wagga and here at Amberley,” Group Captain Carty said. 

“Finally seeing it come to fruition with a great crowd, beautiful dances and an amazing welcome – it makes me very happy.”

During the ceremony, local Ugurapul Elder Uncle Ross and Yuggera storyteller and song man Joseph introduced the invited guests to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture with traditional dances, including teaching the traditional ‘happy dance.’

“The happy dance is a great way to get people involved and learning about Indigenous culture,” Joseph said.

“This yarning circle is for everyone, this is where anyone can come and have a yarn about what’s going on and even tell stories.”

Indigenous landscaper, Batjala man Bruce Phillips from Murri Tukka, made sure the yarning circle’s surrounding gardens were significant to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island culture.

“The plants we’ve chosen are localised species with the theme of the garden being weapons and tools, which take us from Aboriginal culture to Defence, using plants like the Spear Lily,” Bruce said.

RAAF Base Amberley Indigenous Liaison Officer Flight Lieutenant Sarah Woods invites all people at Amberley to visit the cultural precinct, behind the Astra Centre, and take a moment to sit with friends in the yarning circle.

“The Air Force has been around for 101 years and has a parade ground, which is extremely important,” Flight Lieutenant Woods said.

“Yarning circles have been around for more than 65,000 years; our mob have been defending country for that long.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture just sits hand in hand with Air Force, and this area can only bring us closer together.”

Jaylen from the Nunukul Yuggera Dance Troupe plays the didgeridoo, while Joseph conducts the smoking ceremony at the opening of the Amberley Indigenous Cultural Precinct. Photo: Corporal Brett Sherriff