Director's Blog

  • An Inspirational Leader: Mary June “Tookie” (Kelly) Pappin, Mutthi Mutthi elder, 21-6-1950 – 21-1-2022

    Mary Pappin was a woman who inspired so many people. This Director’s Blog provides a chance to honour her contributions. For me personally, Mary Pappin shaped so many years of my life and work. I find it hard to believe she's gone from this present world. So much energy, fire and drive. A figure of authority and wisdom. The first time I met Mary was on an archaeological dig that she was supervising in the Willandra Lakes region. It was 2006, and she was wary – no doubt of another white academic certain to cause strife. She was even more sceptical of the camera crew that I brought with me, warning us off in no uncertain terms, saying she didn’t want another negative news story about her people. Once introduced by someone Mary trusted, however, she quickly switched into teaching mode, patiently sharing her knowledge and time. Nonetheless, when academics interested in her people’s deep past infuriated her, she’d express this with furious theatricality. She objected to people referring to her ancestors as ‘the bones’, as ‘evidence’ or objects. And she became angry when the academics bickered with each other over dates. Yet she also made all visitors to her ancestral Country feel at home. That we were welcome on her Country. She was warm, kind and affectionate to so many researchers, treating them like part of her extended family. On my third visit to Willandra Lakes, Mary expressed great satisfaction that I’d brought along my teenage daughter. When I added that she was mainly just sleeping in my car, she said it didn’t matter, for she would be imbued with the significance of her Country and she would know something of how very important this place is. ‘Even if she only gets a little bit now, it will stay with her as she grows older and she can share the message.’ Mary saw herself as part of a quick-changing line of successive generations – one that was indeed of short duration in the context of her own people’s long history of tens of thousands of years in this place. She saw her presence and actions on behalf of Country as primarily about passing on knowledge to the coming generations. Mary sought education and job opportunities for the younger generation, and she welcomed opportunities to share her knowledge with the wider public. She participated in many interviews for libraries and websites. Articulate, smart, she always had something punchy and memorable to say. In the documentary Message from Mungo, Mary’s words provided a crystal clear message. She was political, fierce, canny, highly intelligent and eloquent. A powerful orator. She made her opinions felt and insisted on being heard. In recent months, she spoke out against plans to rebury the ancient Mungo remains in anonymous secret sites. Mary renewed her long efforts for a Keeping Place for which she and the Mutthi Mutthi, Ngaampa and Barkintji elders had lobbied so hard over for decades. Mary was a visionary, carrying on the determined work of her revered mother Alice Kelly, plus of so many impressive generations past. She epitomized courage. Mary continued the Mungo/Willandra Lakes story - one of powerful women leaders, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, including that of her mother Alice Kelly and archaeologist Isabel McBryde. Mary Pappin’s children have also made their mark - as National Parks managers and researchers, as cultural knowledge holders and custodians. The last time I saw Mary was in early 2021. We met up in an old woolshed at the Buronga Botanical gardens, in order to show her the results of the Mungo map that we had all been working on with Kim Mahood and our Research Centre. ![Mary_Pappin_2.jpg](/uploads/Mary_Pappin_2_08c58b5861.jpg) ###### L-R Daniel Kelly, Mary Pappin and Ann McGrath, Magenta Wool Shed, Australian Inland Botanic Gardens, Buronga, 5 March 2021 Take a look at that photo. Mary understood visuals; she commanded the camera. Willandra Lakes, burial place of Lady Mungo, who she so admired and wished to protect, is in clear view. Mary’s hand connects with the map of Country. It gestures towards Balranald, a special place for the Kelly family. And the place where she was to pass away. A generation is starting to leave us, but the young ones have been well taught. They are coming through. And thanks for the courage and strength of women like Mary Pappin, they have a wonderful legacy to work with. ** We offer our sincere condolences to her husband Darryl (Joe) and her children Darryl, Jason, Gary, Bernadette, Verna, Mary and Douglas. *A funeral was held at St Dympnas Catholic Church Swan Hill and a burial was held on Tuesday, February 1st 2022 at the Balranald Aboriginal Cemetery, where her mother Alice is also buried.*

Latest news and events

  • Deep Conversations: Restoration, Recovery and Repair, Part II: Rehabilitation

    Amid a climate of crisis and ‘unprecedented times’, moments of destruction and devastation are intertwined with those of respite and renewal. By exploring these moments—their mechanisms and tensions—scholars can produce new insights into our past, present and potential futures. In Part II of this deep conversation, join Dr Alexandra Knight, Dr Nicholas Hoare, and Dr Scott McKinnon as they reflect on the practice, meaning and significance of rehabilitation, and its significance for communities, histories, institutions, and ecologies. Date: Monday 23 May 2022 Time: 12:00-1:30pm Location: Room 2.52, Level 2, RSSS Building, 146 Ellery Crescent, ANU Register: This is a free event, but bookings are essential. [Register to attend here](https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/deep-conversations-restoration-recovery-repair-tickets-331743613077). Speakers: - [Dr Alexandra Knight]( https://science-health.csu.edu.au/schools/ag-environmental-vet/staff/profiles/environmental-science/alexandra-knight), Lecturer in Environmental Management, School of Agricultural, Environmental and Veterinary Sciences & Gulbali Institute, Charles Sturt University - [Dr Nicholas Hoare](https://history.cass.anu.edu.au/people/nicholas-hoare), Pacific History Research Fellow at the Department of Pacific Affairs, College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University - [Dr Scott McKinnon](https://scholars.uow.edu.au/display/scott_mckinnon), PERL Research Fellow in the Australian Centre for Culture, Environment, Society and Space (ACCESS), School of Geography and Sustainable Communities, University of Wollongong Deep Conversations: History, Environment, Science is a partnership of the Research Centre for Deep History and Centre for Environmental History. The seminar series aims to bring together scholars from diverse disciplines to discuss questions of history, science and the environment, and how they shed light on the global challenges we face today.
  • First Nations Speaker Series: In conversation with Dennis Golding

    The First Nations Speaker Series is presented in collaboration with GML Heritage and the Research Centre for Deep History. In this session artist Dennis Golding and Sydney Living Museums’ Head of First Nations Cultural Engagement Peter White discuss Golding’s series of work Cast in cast out. Works from the series acquired by Sydney Living Museums were recently exhibited at the Museum of Sydney in the [exhibition Collected](https://sydneylivingmuseums.com.au/exhibitions/collected-sydney-living-museums-acquisitions). [Cast in cast out](https://sydneylivingmuseums.com.au/stories/dennis-golding-cast-in-cast-out) explores dispossession and colonial occupation and is inspired by Golding’s childhood on The Block, Redfern. When: Wednesday 1 June 2022, 6pm–7pm Where: In person at the The Mint, 10 Macquarie Street, Sydney, NSW, 2000 and online. Register: Bookings are required, [register for your free ticket here](https://sydneylivingmuseums.com.au/events/first-nations-speaker-series-conversation-dennis-golding). About the speakers: ![Dennis_Golding_Headdshot.jpg](/uploads/Dennis_Golding_Headdshot_002baf6571.jpg) Dennis Golding is a Kamilaroi/ Gamilaraay artist from the north west of NSW and was born and raised in Sydney. Working in a range of mixed media including painting, video, photography and installation, Golding critiques the social, political and cultural representations of race and identity. Through his artistic and curatorial practice, Golding aims to present powerful representations of contemporary Aboriginal cultural identity that inform narratives of history and lived experiences. Read more. ![PEO16_0066.jpg](/uploads/PEO_16_0066_7d6e8c313e.jpg) Peter White’s role as Head of First Nations Cultural Engagement at Sydney Living Museums is more than just a job. It’s an opportunity for transformation. Peter is a proud Gamilaroi Murri, and his life’s work has been dedicated to championing he inherent rights of First Peoples communities in managing and practising their own culture and enhancing their cultural, social and economic wellbeing through cultural access, engagement and expression. Read more.

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