THERE are a number of social activities and formal commemorative events planned over the weekend to mark 100 years of the former Cootamundra Girls Home.
The events will kick off tonight with an art exhibition at the Cootamundra Arts Centre featuring a number of artworks by Fay Clayton.Fay’s works strongly highlight the times at the Cootamundra Girls Hone and what they had to endure during their time at the home. There will be a private viewing (between 5pm and 6pm) for the former home students and their families, with members of the public invited to view the works at the exhibition (between 6pm and 8pm).Also set up at the Arts Centre will be a photographic display of state records entitled ‘In Living Memory’.The In Living Memory display was set up in Cootamundra almost 10 years ago, however this weekend’s display won’t be quite as big as it previously was.To conclude the evening a short 15 minute film segment entitled ‘All One’ will be screened in the Tin Shed Theatre. The Art Exhibition at the Arts Centre will be open all weekend.Over the course of the weekend Australian renowned photographer Mervyn Bishop will be available to take individual, family and group photographs.
On Saturday, the festivities will begin at around 9am with a smoking ceremony at the entrance of Bimbadeen.A performance will be held at the foyer and exhibition room of the Arts Centre from 10.15am featuring aboriginal band William and Delmae Barton with morning tea to follow.At 11am at the Arts Centre the official launch of the book entitled ‘Home Girls will take place, with introduction addresses being given by the book’s author Peter Kabaila and the Minister for Community and Aboriginal Affairs Victor Dominello.The “All One” film segment will be re-screened from 11.15am.At 1.30pm, one of the formalities of the weekend’s commemorations will take place at the Town Hall and will include a traditional welcome to country, a message from Cootamundra mayor Doug Phillips, a welcome on behalf of the Coota Home Girls, which will be conducted by local resident Donna Byrne, the daughter of Lesley Whitten a former Cootamundra home girl.Other formalities include a thank you message for returning to Cootamundra, entertainment will feature some Aboriginal welcome dancers, NSW Governor Marie Bashir will give an address followed by other invited ministers.The main commemoration service will conclude with the performing of a tribute song entitled ‘Mum’s Song’ to be performed by Kutcha Edwards.Following the service, a commemorative plaque will be unveiled on the grassed area near the Post Office.On Saturday evening a special dinner will be held at the Cootamundra Ex-Services Club, which is fully booked out with a maximum capacity of 350 people.A number of guest speakers will give addresses.Those former Coota girls in attendance will all be given the opportunity to cut the cake.Entertainment and dancing will be provided by Aboriginal band ‘A Foot Full of Bindis’
A community breakfast will be held at the Cootamundra Public School between 8am and noon.Tours of the school will be available along with a historical photographic display and entertainment.A presentation of a special commemorative canvas will be presented to the Cootamundra community with names of former Cootamundra Home Girls.Bimbadeen will be open from 9.30am to 5pm on Saturday and Sunday, with tours of the former school welcome.Local residents are being encouraged to join in with the centenary commemorations.