Mission gets heritage listing

Warangesda Mission recieves heritage listing

July 5, 2010

This Saturday July 10, will see one of the birthplaces of Aboriginal political activism in Australia recognised with a heritage listing from the NSW Department of Planning's Heritage Branch.

Warangesda Mission and Station, just outside Darlington Point in the Riverina District, is a place of immense significance to the area's Aboriginal population.

The site is of particular significance as it's the only mission left in NSW that still has a suite of original buildings still intact. The Heritage area includes the Mission block and the cemetery attached to the mission block.

But perhaps most importantly for the local Aboriginal population, Warangesda is the last known location of an inter-group 'Burbung' or initiation ceremony on Wiradjuri country.

Established in 1880, the mission was originally called the 'Camp of Mercy' by its founder, the Reverend John Brown Gribble.

It was first established on a lot of 600 acres provided by the Government, and produced amongst other things, an annual crop of wheat.

At its peak, Warangesda was home to as many as 200 Aboriginal residents.

In 1924, it was closed down, and it's perhaps at this point, the mission left its greatest legacy.

Residents forced off Warangesda went on to establish well known Aboriginal communities still thriving today.

Residents went on to develop communities at Narrandera, Sandhills and Hill 60. They also established townships in Leeton such as Wattle Hill, and also the Three Ways Reserve in Griffith and Erambie Reserve out at Cowra.

Warangesda is also known in Aboriginal activist circles for its landmark general strike in 1883, only three years after its establishment.

From those seeds of discontent, we've seen some remarkable Aboriginal Australians blossom.

These include Aboriginal trade unionist and politician, the late William Ferguson, one of the pioneers of the land rights movement in NSW, and founding member of the Aboriginal Progressive Association or APC.

Revered artist Roy Kennedy was born on the 'Police Paddock' mission, set up after Warangesda was disbanded in 1924. Musician Jimmy Little also hails from Police Paddock.

Warangesda is significant too for its legacy to Aboriginal Affairs, bringing us some of the most well-known family names in the south east, including the Bamblett, Howell, Atkinson, Kirby, Murray, Charles, Little and Perry families.


The Waddi Housing Corporation and the NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) encourages all in the Griffith area to come along on Saturday July 10, and celebrate this rich vein of the state's Aboriginal history.

Proceedings will start with a church service at the Darlington Point Anglican Church at 10:00am, followed by the official Heritage Listing ceremony afterwards at Darlington Point Club.

A BBQ lunch will also be provided.