Still, here, still strong: 'Fram' celebrates 150 years

THE Framlingham Aboriginal community will tomorrow open its doors to the wider community when it celebrates the 150th anniversary of the Framlingham Aboriginal Reserve, north of Warrnambool.

Framlingham Aboriginal Trust chairman Possum Clark-Ugle said the anniversary would hopefully change the wider community’s perceptions of the Framlingham reserve as well as give the Aboriginal community an opportunity to celebrate and strengthen its cultural traditions.

Tomorrow’s celebrations, which are a free event, will showcase musical talent from the Aboriginal and wider community as well as dance and other Aboriginal cultural traditions.

Mr Clark-Ugle said the Framlingham reserve had been isolated from the wider community but tomorrow’s celebrations would open it up “for our neighbours to come in”. 

The celebrations would give people an opportunity to make their own judgements about the Framlingham community rather than form opinions based on others’ perceptions.

“It will help them understand the past but it can also shape the future,” Mr Clark-Ugle said. 

“This is a step forward for reconciliation.” 

The celebrations would mark not only Aboriginal history but link it to the broader history of Victoria’s Western District, Mr Clark-Ugle said.

“It is part of our history and part of their history,” he said of Framlingham’s connection to both Aboriginal and white societies.

The Framlingham reserve was gazetted by government in 1861 and many Aborigines were forcibly taken to live on the reserve in the years around 1865.

Mr Clark-Ugle said the reserve was created to protect Aborigines from the massacres and other conflicts with white settlers that were devastating the local indigenous population. While it was an inglorious time in Australia’s history, tomorrow’s celebrations will show that those living on the reserve or who have strong links to it are still keeping their indigenous culture alive.

“We are one of the world’s oldest living cultures. This (the anniversary celebrations) is about ensuring it is still around in another 150 years,” Mr Clark-Ugle said.

About 60 residents are spread throughout the 4800-hectare reserve that includes the 378-hectare Framlingham forest.

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