Yardil Songman's Headdress
Mundaring and Hills Historical Society supports the repatriation of First Nations artefacts back to their cultural home.
With the help of Aiatsis.- Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies.
For Lardil elder and songman Lawrence Burke, the return of his grandfather's headdress to its home on Kunhanhaa (Mornington Island) after more than 50 years in the United Kingdom, signifies hope for the future.
Mr Burke said “We lost many artefacts like boomerangs, spears, paintings, rocks. All of these are important because it's how we teach the younger ones. It's how we tell our stories, and that's how we keep our culture alive."
The returning of the piece marks a stride towards bringing home even more culturally significant items.
In 1973, Mr Burke's late grandfather Philip Jack performed with the headdress at the opening of the Sydney Opera House.
Mr Jack gifted the headdress as a gesture of friendship to his neighbour Maurice Routhan, who was leaving for the UK.
In recent years Mr Routhan sought to return the headdress, and with the help of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS), it was brought home in January 2020.
The artefact was handed back during a ceremony in Canberra this week while a keeping place is being arranged on Mornington Island.