NRG Meetings

Business Meetings of the Nillumbik Reconciliation Group are usually held on the first Tuesday of each month (except January). If you would like to attend please contact the Secretary for time and location.

Members are given advance notice of other meetings -- discussions, lectures, presentations, etc. -- by mail, email, News sheet or Newsletter. You are welcome to contact any member of the Committee or you can email or write to the Group for the latest update.



Coming Events:









Recent Events:




On 24th March the Nillumbik Reconciliation Group and Boite combined to present a most enjoyable concert in St. Margaret’s Anglican Church Eltham, featuring the Mission Songs Project by Jessie Lloyd.

The evening opened with an enthusiastic performance by the Mullum Mullum Choir.

Then Jessie followed with songs that reflected the musical style of the different locations where she had collected each one, and the words reflected the issues faced by Aboriginal people from that community. The songs were filled with hope, humour and sadness, but overall the resilience of Aboriginal people shone through.

The performance by her group received a standing ovation.

Diana Warrell










You can download a copy of the full program here.








The BARN GALLERY, MONTSALVAT, 7 Hillcrest Avenue Eltham


Montsalvat and the Nillumbik Reconciliation Group again invite you to join a gathering of Australia’s best writers, poets, historians, journalists and thinkers as they explore Australia’s Indigenous past and give voice to its present.



Opening Night: Friday 6 May, 7pm for 7.30

The  Barn Gallery, Montsalvat,

Welcome  by Nillumbik Shire mayor, Councillor Bronnie Hattam


Session one, Alexis Wright, Miles Franklin award-winning novelist for Carpentaria, and writer of celebrated non-fiction, talks with Jack Waterford, former Editor and Editor-at-large of The Canberra Times, onetime Freedom Rider, and one of Australia’s finest journalist-commentators on Indigenous affairs. They will be joined by poet and land-rights activist-lawyer, Campbell Thomson and a panel of writers and journalists.

This opening event is presented in conjunction with Australian Book Review.


Saturday Morning

Session two, in The Barn Gallery, Montsalvat

10.30am Gathering, tea and coffee. Welcome to country and introduction.


11.00am Honouring – and illuminating – the past

Spotlight on Tom Griffiths

Hear one of Australia’s most celebrated – and readable – historians, Tom Griffiths, Professor of History and Director of the Centre for Environmental History at the Australian National University, in a discussion of his forthcoming book, The Art of Time Travel, Historians And Their Craft (Black Inc.) In a series of eloquent essays on Australia historians and historical novelists, Tom Griffiths sets a new benchmark for the discussion of Australian Indigenous history, transcending the polarities and divisiveness of the so-called ‘history wars’.


12.15pm Lunch and conversation in the Barn gallery and Barn courtyard

(Cost of lunch is included in the full festival ticket.)



Saturday Afternoon

Session three, in The Barn Gallery, Montsalvat

1.15pm Return of the Millennial Generation – young scholars from the University of Melbourne’s Australian Indigenous Studies program discuss The Oombulgurri Project, their recently published study of the history and contemporary reality of Oombulgurri, a community in East Kimberley, W.A, co-authored with head of Australian Indigenous Studies, Philip Morrissey.    


Session four, in The Barn Gallery, Montsalvat

2.30pm Spotlight on Alex Miller

One of Australia’s best loved and most celebrated novelists, and twice winner of its highest literary accolade, the Miles Franklin Award, Alex Miller, in conversation with Morag Fraser, will discuss the sources and genesis of his writing, and his decades-long Indigenous connections and friendships, as revealed in his most recent book, The Simplest Words, A Storyteller’s Journey, and given fictional life in his novels, Journey to the Stone Country, Landscape of Farewell and Coal Creek.


3.45pm Afternoon Tea in the Barn Gallery, scones, jam, tea and conversation


4.30 pm Session five, in The Barn Gallery, Montsalvat

Readings from and by Past Matters guest speakers,

including readings from the recent book, Laughing Waters Road, Art, Landscape and Memory in Eltham, by Nillumbik writer, dramatist and local identity, Jane Woollard. Laughing Waters Road details the way local Indigenous history and cultural activity came alive for one particular writer.  


5.30pm Session six, in The Barn Gallery, Montsalvat

Plenary Session

An opportunity for festival guests and audience to exchange ideas and to build new connections.  


6.00pm – 7pm Festival reception in the Barn Gallery


Bookings are essential and must be made by Wednesday 4 May.

Cost of the full festival (six sessions) includes tea and coffee, lunch, afternoon tea and a glass of wine at the evening reception.

Festival ticket: Adults $45 Concession $30

Single session $15 Concession $10 (single session prices do not include lunch).


RSVP and ticket sales to  Tel: 03 94397712


Montsalvat’s the Past Matters Festival acknowledges the generous support of the Nillumbik Shire Council in mounting this year’s festival, and Philip Morrissey, Head of Australian Indigenous Studies at the University of Melbourne, for his ongoing support and help with programming. The Festival is hosted by Montsalvat in conjunction with the Nillumbik Reconciliation Group, and is generously assisted by Australian Book Review, ELTHAMbookshop and the University of Melbourne’s Australian Indigenous Studies Program.  





Launch of the New Gawa Trail markers

Almost 100 people from across Nillumbik gathered to celebrate the installation of new Trail Markers along the Gawa Wurundjeri Resource Trail on Watsons Creek.

People of all ages heard Uncle Bill Nicholson give a Welcome to Country in which he spoke of the Wurundjeri heroes who led their people through the times of white settlement: Simon Wonga, William Barak and his sister Annie.

After a Smoking Ceremony in which everyone walked through the smoke to signify their respect for Wurundjeri lore and land, Mandy Nicholson led the Djirri Djirri Dancers with clap sticks and singing. These rituals are the current form of the ancient Tanderrum.

Then it was time for refreshments and walking the trail. The new markers are bordered with a painting by  Wurundjeri artist Judy Nicholson and her Worimi partner Jamie McFayden.

The plaques, which are 80x40cm, give illustrated information about Wurundjeri life and their cultural past.

You can see the new Gawa plaques
here (large file: 3.5MB)

Click here for some pictures of the launch event.





A Short-lived Reserve


The Chief Aboriginal Protector, George Augustus Robinson fought to secure land for the Wurundjeri people, noting in his diary on May 3rd 1839:

‘Had a long conversation with surveyor Mr. Hoddle. Showed me a map of the county, marked off into allotments comprising I think fully 30 square miles and not a single reserve for the blacks except the mission which I have no wish to retain. I said if that or a similar map was exhibited to the people of England they would at once see the way the natives are treated. Their lands sold from them and no provision made for their maintenance, and this by the government who are bound to protect them.'

It took until 1852 for a 1908 acre Aboriginal Reserve to be formally set aside at Pound Bend. However, gold had been discovered at Warrandyte in 1851 and the Reserve’s future was doomed. The Wurundjeri knew this and decided to hold one last corroboree. The Aboriginal Protector William Thomas described the event held in March 1852 as follows:

‘They had not met for many years and wanted to have once more some corroboree together….and night after night for fourteen days they did indulge themselves.’

However after the corroboree some of the Wurundjeri decided to go on one last walkabout to Melbourne. Not having permission to leave the reserve they were arrested at Bulleen and sent to the Police Paddocks at Dandenong. Others continued to live on creek-side encampments or work on local stations, while others moved to the safety of the Upper Goulburn until land was reserved for them at Coranderrk in 1863. Pound Bend served as a ration station until closed in 1862.

Nillumbik Reconciliation Group, in partnership with Reconciliation Manningham, has erected plaques on two boundaries of the former reserve: at the confluences of Stony Creek and of Anderson Creek with the Yarra River. The plaques were unveiled on 23rd March during the Warrandyte Festival.

You can download a flyer with more information and directions to the sites here.

More extensive information on the plaques, historical notes on the Wurundjeri of the Yarra Valley, and sites of significance around Melbourne are included on a brochure that can be downloaded here.

Auntie Di Kerr speaking at the plaque unveiling. Photo: Diana Warrell