The grave site of legendary Aboriginal Bennelong has been saved by the purchase of the Putney house where he is believed to be buried by he NSW State Government.
The State Government will spend around $3 million to purchase a Putney home that contains the gravesite of Aboriginal leader Bennelong and will turn the site into a memorial.
“Bennelong is the first significant connection between our two cultures and it is important that we protect and preserve this site as an important
piece of our nation’s history,” Lane Cove MP Anthony Roberts said.
“Given its significance we need to make sure we are taking all the appropriate steps to ensure we manage the site in a way that is respectful and in line with community values.
“We need to make sure we are protecting our heritage and preserving the past.”
A committee will be established to discuss the next steps for the site’s future.
It will include representatives from the Aboriginal community, the Bennelong Putney Project Committee, the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Lands Council, DPE, OEH, Aboriginal Affairs and local community.
The multi million dollar purchase follows a campaign by The Weekly Times to create a memorial at the gravesite, which will include a dedication to
commemorate the impact of British settlement on the Aboriginal people of Sydney.
A City of Ryde council meeting in April this year passed a motion to protect the grave and Mayor Jerome Laxale congratulated The Weekly Times and
“It is great that Council and The Weekly Times have been part of the project and we thank Mr Roberts for securing the funding,” he said.
In April this year – in response to The Weekly Times’ campaign – the City of Ryde passed a motion which stated: “The City of Ryde aims to progress further the investigation regarding the potential burial site in Putney and to progress any measures required to protect the site.”
Bennelong died on January 3, 1813 at Kissing Point on the Parramatta River in Sydney and reports in the Sydney Gazette said he was buried in the Putney orchard of the brewer James Squire.
In March 2011 Dr Peter Mitchell of Macquarie University announced that he had located Bennelong’s grave between the home and parkland, prompting The Weekly Times and former Ryde Mayor Vic Tagg to launch the campaign to have the site recognised by a memorial.
The Weekly Times Managing Editor John F Booth AM said front page appeals to commemorate Bennelong had paid off.
“Since 2013 our readers have backed our bicentennial campaign to have a substantial memorial at the gravesite and Sunday’s announcement
recognises Bennelong’s important contribution to the local Federal electorate named after him,” he said.
It is not known who is buried in a grave beside Bennelong although
academics speculate that it could be local Aboriginal Nanberry, who died
in 1821 and requested to buried with Bennelong.
Bidgee Bidgee, who led the Kissing Point clan for twenty years after Bennelong’s death also asked to be buried with Bennelong, but there is no
proof his remains are buried there.