After many years of discussions involving those living “Girls” who had been resident at the Cootamundra Home since 1911/12 - the former residents finally unveiled 2 memorials on the 20thOctober 2006. These memorials pay tribute to all who had lived their formative years in this government run institution situated on the outskirts of Cootamundra town-ship on the southwest slopes of New South Wales. The unveiling of the memorials was attended by many of the former residents and their descendants and is testimony to their survival.
In some cases, baby brothers were sent to the Girls’ Home before being again taken away to the Kinchela Boys’ Home near Kempsey, NSW. These boys were first removed from their parents and then they were again removed from their sisters.
The two memorials are very much in keeping with the childhood memories of the women and are themed around “The Well”.
The well was out the front of the Home, and faced the driveway - as one looks from the entrance to the Home. Many of us spent long quiet hours sitting on the well looking down the driveway hoping our mothers were coming to take us home.
The old well had disintegrated and was bricked over years ago when the Aboriginal Welfare Board was disbanded and were no longer the caretakers. This memorial replica of the well was built by a local stonemason from local granite.
Aunty Lorraine Peeters came up with the appropriate quote “Sitting on Our Wishing Well, Waiting for Family to take us Home”. This is inscribed on the outside of the rim of the new well.
The other memorial is a group photograph of the Girls with Matron Hiscocks which was taken with them sitting on the old well. This photo and other acknowledgements are attached to an engraved polished stone. This stone (which faces the well) represents a mother coming up the driveway to take her child or children home.
Many of the women – (who still refer to themselves as the Cootamundra Girls), had originally arrived at the Home as babies - some also arrived via the Children’s Home at Bomaderry on the south coast of New South Wales. Others were taken from their mother’s arms as babies & small children. Still, others were carried off from their own Wiradjuri Country on which the Home was built.