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aboriginal landscape stolen children_Reflecting on Australian Indigenous Knowledges and St

'The Poetics of Deep Mapping Place'

Colebrook Reconciliation Park

Acknowledgment

I acknowledge the traditional owners of country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, culture and community. I pay my respects to elders past, present and emerging.

Sensitivity Disclaimer

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website page contains images, voices, or names of deceased persons in photographs, film or audio recordings.

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Transformation and Reconciliation

Colebrook Reconciliation Park is a moving example of healing, memory, and reconciliation. It is tucked away in the peaceful Eden Hills, South Australia. Originally the location of the Colebrook Children's Home, this park now acts as a permanent memorial for the families and Aboriginal children who suffered from the terrible legacy of the Stolen Generation.

Cradle of Life

By Archie Roach

Reflecting on Australian Indigenous Knowledges and Stories

We delve into the layered narratives that shape this place, drawing inspiration from Indigenous writers and poets. Our exploration is guided by key concepts such as decolonization, relationality, and literary sovereignty.

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The Living History of Blackwood

Blackwood, a suburb in Adelaide’s foothills, carries within its soil the echoes of time. Its colonial history intertwines with the ancient stories of the Kaurna people, who have inhabited this land for millennia. As we walk through the streets, we encounter remnants of the past—a weathered stone wall, a gnarled gum tree, a creek that once flowed freely. These physical markers hold memories, both painful and resilient.

Indigenous Writers as Custodians of Memory

To centre our reflections, we turn to Indigenous writers and poets who have breathed life into the landscape. Oodgeroo Noonuccal, a trailblazing poet and activist, reminds us that “We Are Going.” Her words resonate with the tension between erasure and survival—the erasure of Indigenous culture and the resilience that persists despite it. Through her poetry, Noonuccal invites us to listen to the land, to hear its stories whispered through the rustling leaves.

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The Power of Narrative and Story

Narratives shape our understanding of place. Colebrook Reconciliation Park seeks to amplify silenced voices, weaving together stories of dispossession, resistance, and healing. Kim Scott, a Noongar writer, speaks of “That Deadman Dance,” where Indigenous and settler cultures collide. His novel invites us to dance across time, bridging the gap between past and present. Scott’s prose becomes a vessel for memory, carrying us through the ages.

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Deep Mapping and Unseen Layers

A reflective deep mapping reveals hidden layers—the footprints of ancestors, the whispers of ceremonies, the scars of conflict. We explore the creek’s course, tracing its bends and meanders. Beneath the asphalt, we sense the old foundations, its story etched into the bedrock. We honour the marginalised narratives — the children who played by the creek. Children deeply affected by forced removals and institutionalisation, suffering immense trauma, severed from their cultural roots, language, and kinship networks.

It reminds us that healing requires acknowledging the past, listening to Indigenous voices, and working together toward a more just and inclusive society. 

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To deep map is to sit with country, to imagine beyond what we know. We trace the contours of Blackwood, where stories intertwine with colonial history. Colebrook Reconciliation Park stands as witness, grappling with the living memory of a place shaped by both Indigenous knowledge and coloniality. Here, stories become memorialized or erased, etched into the land like hidden scars.

Memory in the Blood: (Re)Mapping Archives

It is the fever in the archive after all, the same fever that drives the hoarding (the holding) which might drive an attempt to touch something of the event.” — Natalie Harkin

Decolonization and Literary Sovereignty

Decolonization is not a one-time event; it is an ongoing process. Colebrook Reconciliation Park dismantles colonial frameworks, inviting Indigenous voices to reclaim their stories. Ali Cobby Eckermann, a Yankunytjatjara/Kokatha poet, embodies this sovereignty. Her collection “Inside My Mother” unearths intergenerational trauma, weaving threads of resilience and healing. Eckermann’s words are medicine for a wounded landscape.

After prayers at night I go to bed

lying awake with memories in my head.

I can still see my mother

kneeling on the ground

sobbing, Don't take my child, 

I want him around.

 

Alf Taylor, 

'Rimfire: Poetry from Aboriginal Australia'

Relationality and Writing for Transformation

As we engage with the land, we forge relationships—with the river red gums, the magpies, the granite outcrops. Tony Birch, a Bundjalung writer, reminds us that writing is an act of transformation. His stories breathe life into forgotten corners, inviting us to reimagine our place within the ecosystem. Birch’s prose becomes a bridge, connecting us to the ancestral stories that linger in the breeze.

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Alf Taylor
'Rimfire: Poetry from Aboriginal Australia'

Poetics of Resistance and Refusal

In the face of erasure, Indigenous poets wield their pens as weapons of resistance. Lionel Fogarty, a Murri poet, defies colonial constraints. His words surge like a river in flood, refusing to be contained. Through his poetry, we confront uncomfortable truths—the violence of dispossession, the resilience of kinship. Fogarty’s refusal to be silenced echoes across the hills, challenging us to listen.

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THE STOLEN GENERATION

Inscriptions for the Future

As we conclude our reflection, we inscribe our intentions onto the land. We commit to amplifying Indigenous voices, to weaving their stories into the fabric of Blackwood. The foundations, once hidden, now settled in our collective memory. Colebrook Reconciliation Park becomes a vessel—a place where history, story, and Indigenous knowledge converge. We honour the past, celebrate the present, and inscribe hope for generations yet unborn.

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The Alchemy of Words

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Our pens transmute pain into possibility. We write futures—where Colebrook’s foundations once stood, where Kaurna language dances, where children learn truth-telling. We read the land — the scars, the blossoms — and write ourselves into its folds. We refuse erasure. Our poems are barricades against forgetting. We chant: “Remember, remember!” Our ink is a shield, our metaphors weapons. We resist the amnesia of asphalt and shopping malls. Colebrook's roots pierce concrete.

As the sun dips below the ridge, I fold my map — a palimpsest of ink and longing. Colebrook whispers its stories — the hidden, the marginalized, the resilient. Our deep mapping inscribes hope — a future where memory blooms, where Country sings, and where justice unfurls like wattle blossoms.

Transformation & 
Reconciliation
Deep Mapping & Unseen Layers
Reflecting on Indigenous Knowledge's & Stories
Decolonization & Literary Sovereignty
The Living History of Blackwood
Relationality & Writing for Transformation
Indigenous Writers as Custodians of Memory
Poetics of Resistance & Refusal
The Power of Narrative & Story
Inscriptions for the Future Remembering the Children

Colebrook Reconciliation Park

Exploring the Park

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Grieving Mother

The bowed head and the hollow arms of a mother express the sentiment, "Where has my baby gone?" This is a sculpture of a grieving mother created by artist Silvio Apponyi. These emotional words convey the agony of separation. The mother silently suffers, much like the children and their families did for many years.

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Colebrook Children's Home

The Colebrook Children's Home in South Australia was part of the Stolen Generations, a period from the late 1800s to the 1970s when Indigenous children were taken from their families to assimilate into European culture, causing devastating consequences like severed family ties and trauma that continues to affect generations.

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Children's Mosiac

Local Aboriginal artist Kunyi June-Anne McInerney designed and crafted the mosaic. In addition to spending time at the Oodnadatta mission home, Kunyi's sisters were also residents of Colebrook Children's Home. The children and local fauna that were present at Colebrook, as well as the games the children played, are all portrayed in the mosaic.

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Listening Posts

The listening posts at Colebrook Reconciliation Park have been adorned by local Kaurna, Narangga, and Ngarrindjeri artist Carly Tarkari Dodd, with the help of children from nearby schools and preschools. These posts feature personal recordings of Aboriginal individuals who once lived at the home, and the stories are regularly refreshed.

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Fountain of Tears

At the heart is the Fountain of Tears, a powerful sculpture symbolising the collective grief and loss of the Stolen Generation. The gentle flow of water represents healing and renewal. Created by artists Silvio Apponyi and Shereen Rankine, water is used to acknowledge the pain, trauma, and sorrow of those affected by the removal of children.

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Story Board

This area displays the book "Bush Games and Knucklebones," written by Doris Kartinyeri and illustrated by Kunyi June-Anne McInerney. The story takes us on a lighthearted yet poignant journey inside the Stolen Generation children's imaginations and the games they devised to deal with the hardships of institutionalisation.

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Reconciliation

Colebrook Reconciliation Park invites us to confront uncomfortable truths, honour the resilience of the Stolen Generation, and commit to reconciliation. As we walk its paths, we remember the children who suffered and strive for a more compassionate and just society—one that acknowledges the pain of the past while building bridges toward a shared future.

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Acknowledgments