Musgrave Park – ‘that is where we yarn, dance, sing, teach & learn’.

My land tells me all I need to know
And has done for forty thousand years
So I ask
What have you brought to this land
That would make me change my mind
My Aboriginal purpose
     by Paul Buttigieg

[Editor’s Note: BCC put out the sacred fire in Musgrave Park on 2 Feb 2013. Indigenous people took the embers and charcoal to Brisbane City Hall to deliver a message to the authorities. They were accused of willful damage of town hall by police. Listen to the defence of the sacred fire and why this was not willful damage … read the following challenge to us all …]

idle no more

Boe knocking on Quirk's door
Boe knocking on Quirk’s door

By Kaylah Tyson
My friends: Murri, White, Maori, Samoan, Tongan, Fijian, African, American, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, what ever you identify with: I ask from the heart that you read this. Dont just scroll past thinking ‘these blacks are at it again’….

Right now at Musgrave Park, the Police & Brisbane City Council are once again harrassing our people who had planned to have a bit of a dance up today. They have come in & told everyone to leave & have once again put out the fire. I HAVE HAD ENOUGH. As an ongoing battle, these ‘authorities’ continue to enter Musgrave Park which has been a meeting place for many mobs since the beginning of time. Putting out our fire and trying to move us on is DENYING US THE RIGHT TO PRACTISE OUR CULTURE. We don’t have church. We have the fire. That is where we yarn, dance, sing, teach & learn. Just like any other culture has their practices, this is ours. Why, in 2013, am I as an Aboriginal woman, still denied my civil rights? Even though I am strong in standing for what I believe in, I have never been one to get angry or forceful towards those that may not have the same strength but right now I am asking each and everyone of you, as cultural people & human beings to think about what it would be like for you to not be allowed to practice your culture, learn from neighbouring tribes & have the chance to pass that knowledge on to your younger generation not only in this day and age but in your own country?!

idle no more! idle no more! 2  idle no more! 4 As I write this, tears are flowing heavily. I will never give up carrying on the fight that my mother & grandmother previously fought but I HAVE TO put this on YOU: Does this feel ‘right’ in YOUR heart? Will you endeavour to help us stand up to the authorities? Or will you stand back and say ‘its not my place’, ‘I’m too busy’, ‘I don’t know enough about this to make a change’??

If you are a permanent Australian resident, it is your place. Our history is your history too! Are you too busy to ensure that you will always have your rights protected? So it may not be your people yet but if they can oppress us, who’s to say your people aren’t next? And you don’t feel that you know enough? Learn. Simple.

Please have these conversations with your own people & pass the message on that we need your help.

This isn’t a thing about colour. Its about our right as people.

Invasion Day 2013 from Lachlan Hurse on Vimeo.

A message for Graham Quirk, Mayor of Brisbane, Qld

4 thoughts on “Musgrave Park – ‘that is where we yarn, dance, sing, teach & learn’.

  1. Richard Kirk Architect says:

    Musgrave Park Cultural Centre
    RKA was commissioned, in association with Innovarchi, to project manage and design a new Cultural Centre for the Aboriginal Community. The scheme acts as a meeting space for community gatherings and an art gallery.

    Our approach is to achieve a high degree of transparency between inside and outside and to treat interior spaces as a field of spaces. The form of the building was to be a simple series of wraps – where walls and roof merge – the fundamentals of enclosure.

    Contemporary ‘Aboriginal Architecture’ is defined in the design intent as an intervention (building, landscape or both) on a site that in some way generates an Aboriginal quality about itself. We believe that the development of Aboriginal qualities can best be achieved as part of the design process, more so than as the result of a search for suitable formal architectural expression or use of symbolism.

    Formally the building design presents an Aboriginal culture that will be conveyed as overtly contemporary and urbane.

    The project will also adopt best practice ESD principles.

    Covered open area, exhibition space, flexible meeting rooms, outdoor amphitheatre and office rooms.

    Musgrave Park Community Centre & Arts Queensland

    2,500m 2


    Cultural Centre

  2. Is this really “Aboriginal Architecture”?

    The original vision for the cultural centre included a bar and restaurant inspired by the Greek Community Centre across the road. Its purpose was not simply a place where Murries could gather comfortably but it was also an economic development project whereby Murries could buy grog from a Murri business rather than keeping the Boundary and Melbourne hotels rich while having to drink in the park because these pubs would not allow groups of murries to congregate. A similar project at the time was the ATSIC owned Empress Hotel in Sydney.

    There was strong white community opposition to Aboriginal people drinking in the vicinity of Musgrave Park, ironically much of it from the Greek Community Centre, and the bar and restaurant idea was dropped.

    After that the community arts organisation “Feral Arts”, that was partially funded and fully connected into the Rockefella Foundation’s global program of community development, took up the cause and developed a model that conformed to Queensland arts funding guidelines, which is the model that got accepted and funded. This model of a community centre was the same as that imposed onto many remote Aboriginal communities across Australia as the method by which mining companies can direct mining royalty payments into communities (which were of course fully tax deductable). Today the authorised cultural centre model has evolved to a “Keeping place” such as the one being imposed onto Stradbroke Island and other places at present that is not designed by locals and all cultural information contained in it is copyright owned by the government.

    Richard Kirk’s proposed building is a fusion of racist moralistic opposition to Murries, government arts policies and the agendas of mining companies. This is NOT Aboriginal architecture.

  3. Heritage Register says:

    Brisbane City Council Heritage Register
    South Brisbane Bowls Club & Musgrave Park (former)

    Gazetted in 1865, Musgrave Park is one of the oldest public parks in Brisbane. By the turn of the century it was host to a number of recreation pursuits including tennis, cricket, croquet, bowls, and football, and also featured a bandstand. In later years it was the scene of Aboriginal protest and host to an Aboriginal Community Arts establishment. The South Brisbane Bowls Club was established in 1901 and a club building was raised soon afterward. The building was continually extended over the following decades, arriving at its present configuration in 1939. The club was patronised by many of Brisbane’s leading citizens and, along with Musgrave Park itself, was a locus for middle class leisure activities in South Brisbane. The Club ceased operating in 1987, but the building has been adaptively re-used, now serving as an Aboriginal Community Centre.

    Significance… It is important in demonstrating the evolution or pattern of the City’s or local area’s history as Musgrave Park has long been a venue for Aboriginal protest, resistance and commemoration.

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