The remains of Mungo Man and 104 other ancestors from the Willandra Lakes region commenced their journey home to the Mungo National Park after a ceremony in Canberra. Traditional Owners are now accompanying the ancestors on their return to Country.
Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion has joined with Minister for the Arts Mitch Fifield to commemorate this historic occasion that pays respect to the ancestors of this land and celebrates our First Australians as one of the world’s oldest cultures.
“Mungo Man has been instrumental in increasing our understanding as to how far back First Australians first arrived and lived on this continent.
“As one of the oldest remains ever found anywhere in the world, Mungo Man also represents one of the most important contributions to our knowledge of human history and therefore is significant not just to Australia but indeed the entire world.
“Unearthed in 1974, Mungo Man has been dated at 42,000 years old, giving evidence that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture is one of the oldest in the world.
“The Traditional Owners, the Mutthi Mutthi, Paakantji and Ngyiampaa peoples have long desired the return of their ancestors and I am pleased to see that we have been able to make this a reality. The Australian Government continues its repatriation programs, ensuring the ancestors of our first Australians return to their country and are properly laid to rest.
The remains of Mungo Man were discovered at Lake Mungo in 1974 by Geologist Dr Jim Bowler in a traditional ochre burial pit by the banks of Lake Mungo in South Western NSW before being taken to the Australian National University in Canberra.
The ancestors are being transported to Mungo National Park in a hearse via Wagga Wagga, Hay and Balranald, with Welcome to Country ceremonies held as they pass through Hay and Balranald.
A formal Return to Country ceremony for the ancestors will be held at Mungo National Park on 17 November. The following evening, a Return to Country Festival will be held at Nowingi Place in Mildura to mark this significant event.
Minister for the Arts, Mitch Fifield has welcomed the celebrations in Mildura, where 5,000 people are expected to pay their respects and celebrate Mungo Man’s return.
“The Australian Government is pleased to announce funding for this important cultural event, which will provide an opportunity for all Australians to share and mark this significant moment involving the return of these ancestors of the First Australians to their rightful resting place,” Minister Fifield said.
“Community musicians and dancers will perform alongside nationally recognised headline artists such as Isaiah Firebrace, Archie Roach, Kutcha Edwards and Shane Howard.”
The Australian Government contribution will complement funding from the NSW Government’s Office of Environment and Heritage, the Healing Foundation, Mildura Rural City Council and a private crowdfunding campaign for this significant event to occur.