25 March 2024

Understand our past to embrace the future, 2024 Heritage Festival launch told

| Sally Hopman
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Woman in front of lectern with Heritage Festival sign

ACT Heritage Minister Rebecca Vassarotti launches the 2024 Canberra and Region Heritage Festival at Gorman House on Wednesday (20 March). Photos: Sally Hopman.

To celebrate and recognise who we are, we must understand our past, the ACT Heritage Minister Rebecca Vassarotti told the crowd at the launch of the 2024 Canberra and Region Heritage Festival.

Understanding our past, she said, helped define our presence today, adding that this year’s theme, ”Connections”, was timely.

“The Connections theme is appropriate because for the last few years, we have been spending time away from our loved ones, so now we can look forward to reconnecting,” Ms Vassarotti said.

“First Nations people made these connections 60,000 years ago, so I’m very happy that for this year’s festival, we’re focusing on that connection with many of our events.

“I would like to thank our First Nations people for sharing their skills, knowledge and stories with us.”

Ms Vassarotti said highlights of this year’s festival, featuring more than 120 events, included a family-friendly Wildbark Cultural Community Day at Mulligans Flat, an open day at Yarralumla Woolshed by the National Trust, and a unique learning opportunity to explore the ACT’s heritage with geocaching.

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Ngunnawal elder Aunty Violet Sheridan welcomed the guests to the launch of the 41st festival, echoing the importance of connection, saying she had learned valuable lessons from her parents.

“They taught us to only take what we can use, and leave the rest for others,” she said.

”We need to get back to this because heritage is such an important part of our culture.”

Arts Capital chair Lauren Honcope said it was timely for the launch to be held at Gorman House – with the iconic Canberra building celebrating its centenary this year – as well as being one of the capital’s best-known centres for creativity.

Ms Honcope said its first iteration was as housing for government workers.

“They were mainly women who had left home for the first time and came here to the scary Limestone Plains. It was one of the first residential structures here, mainly for women, but by the 1960s it provided accommodation for men and women.”

Woman speaking with microphone gesticulates in front of crowd

Ngunnawal elder Aunty Violet Sheridan welcomes guests to the launch of the 2024 Canberra and Region Heritage Festival.

She said it was also used as a training facility for Commonwealth police before coming into its own as a community arts facility – the home today for 35 artists.

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Dozens of volunteers attended Wednesday’s launch, representing not only Canberra groups involved in the 2024 festival but others from Yass, Araluen, Braidwood, Cooma, Bungendore, Goulburn and Queanbeyan.

This year’s events include graveside yarns at Yass, where you can hear the stories of the town’s villains and heroes as you walk through the town cemetery; stories of our Indigenous parliamentarians; torchlight tours of historic St John’s Church; Canberra’s changing landscape – at the Arboretum; a walk and talk about the Indigenous history of Black Mountain; Canberra’s romantic side with Love in the Capital: The Love Stories that Shaped the Nation; how to cook bush tucker; and an open day at Araluen’s Federal Hall.

The 2024 Canberra and Region Heritage Festival runs from 13 to 28 April. The full program is available online on the ACT Government’s website.

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The problem with this? Nobody (or hardly anybody, I should say) is interested in understanding the past, and they actually become quite cross when you try to tell them, instead of just going and verifying what you say – like any reasonable adult would or should.

The result? Hardly anybody understands hardly anything about the past, and the present and the future will be poorer for it.

And while I could go into more detail about this quickly fading past – and risk making disinterested people a little cross – suffice it for me to say that having an understanding of the past isn’t at all a totalitarian/marxist/cultural marxist thing – placing the cultural marxist lecturing us now about the past in a performative contradiction (although to be fair, she might not even really know what it is that she believes).

Destroying, covering up and fabricating the past? Now that’s more like what the progressive is all about – and partly because she wouldn’t get anywhere if the truth was known.

Time to go pull down another statue or something, is it ANTIFA? Or to just try and project your MO onto the right?

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