Marmungun Rock


The Origin of Marmungun Rock

The Marmungun Rock concept was created from a community priority identified by the Dirrawarra Indigenous Network. Dirrawarra was formed in Wangaratta in 2007-2008 and soon after this it undertook a series of community planning sessions to identify its priorities. One of the priorities was “a local honour roll” and this was documented in Dirrawarra’s first ever Community Plan in 2010.

Years later this priority became a focus for Dirrawarra and the concept of “a local honour roll” was further developed with significant input from the late Uncle Wally Cooper.  Uncle Wally believed the honour roll should take the form of a large granite rock with handprints carved into it as a tribute to honour local people for their service to community.  This idea was first discussed in Uncle Wally’s front yard while he was carving rocks for another project – a couple of Dirrawarra network participants were there at the time and they developed the concept with Uncle Wally.

Uncle Wally was a true champion of reconciliation and he advocated for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to be recognised this way. In his wisdom Uncle Wally knew this would bring cultures together and it would break down barriers. Dirrawarra supported the concept and had to resolve several issues that were raised.

Firstly, Dirrawarra did not have capacity or the processes in place to administer an honour roll. To resolve this Dirrawarra researched Wangaratta Council’s Citizen of the Year Awards and decided, with Uncle Wally’s blessing that Councils system of honouring a Citizen of the Year was a good match.

The second issue was that the Citizen of the Year Awards were conducted on 26 January each year…this is a particularly sensitive date for First Nations People. Uncle Wally was always promoting reconciliation and so the idea was floated to conduct the ceremony at the rock during National Reconciliation Week (27 May – 3 June) as an enduring tribute to Uncle Wally but also to create an event that could include the whole community as a cultural celebration on a date other than 26 January.

Lastly, the name of the rock became an issue as it was first going to be called the “Elders Rock” because people who were being honoured in this way displayed the qualities of an Elder. The problem was Dirrawarra did not want people to think if a person’s  handprint was on the rock that they were being recognised as an Elder – this was not the intention. At the time of these discussions Uncle Wally had passed away. Dirrawarra approached the late Uncle Freddie Dowling for his advice on the issue and Uncle Freddie suggested the rock should be named “Marmungun Rock” meaning ‘of this group/area’ the closest traditional Bpangerang word for “community”. This was adopted as the traditional name.

This whole concept was then presented to Wangaratta Council and this was unanimously supported, including where it would be situated – in Apex Park alongside the Ovens River. The Marmungun Rock ceremony site was established in 2016 and the first ceremony was conducted during National Reconciliation Week 2017.

Marmungun Rock has a koala carved into it – the main Bpangerang totem animal. Five smaller rocks around Marmungun Rock are symbolic ‘protectors’ and they have other totem animals carved into them including the Long-necked Cormorant, Goanna, Possum (Uncle Wally’s totem), Pelican and Kangaroo.

Marmungan Rock 1.jpg

Stories behind the handprints

2017 Sue Bromilow

Sue was a much-loved inspiration to her family, friends and community and is remembered for her love, involvement and outstanding dedication to the Whorouly Community.

Sue was one of a kind.  She was often referred to as ‘our true Whorouly treasure’ having a positive influence on everyone she came in contact with.  Sue’s many qualities included her friendly nature, honesty, attention to detail, organisational skills, integrity, selflessness, reliability, generosity, trustworthiness, empathy… the list goes on. 

Over her 35-year involvement with local community groups, Sue held many executive roles with groups such as the Whorouly Library Hall, the Whorouly Memorial Park Committee, the Whorouly Pre School Committee, Whorouly Primary School and St Patrick’s Catholic Church and was always involved in her children’s sporting clubs.  It was this tremendous community spirit and dedication that Sue’s many community contributions were recognised by her receiving the Rural City of Wangaratta Citizen of the Year Award 2017.  

Sadly, Sue passed away aged 60, after a long and courageous battle with cancer on 18 January 2017, just prior to the Australia Day Award ceremony and also the ceremony held at Marmungun Rock during National Reconciliation Week.  Fortunately, she was made aware of both of these events, and in true Sue style had prepared a wonderful speech for her family to convey on her behalf.  She was also able to choose her own special place on the rock for her handprint to be carved.  Sue was so extremely honoured that her handprint was the first to be set in stone on the Marmungun Rock.

A special place at home in Sue’s garden displays the words of the three most important things in her life … Family Faith Friends

2018 Fran Doig

Fran Doig received the 2018 Wangaratta Citizen of the Year Award in recognition of her active involvement over 50 years in the Wangaratta Netball Association – as a coach, umpire, committee member, and promoter of netball in schools.
Through her love of the game, energy, kindness and dedication, Fran has fostered a supportive and inclusive environment that has positively influenced the lives of girls and women in the community. 
Her work on the committee for over 5 decades has been instrumental in making the Wangaratta Netball Association such a success, hence why in 2086 the new pavilion was named after her. 
The award also acknowledged Fran’s work as a volunteer with CareVan and the Uniting Church Opportunity Shop, as well as her support for other social justice issues both locally and nationally.

2019 Peter Headland

Peter grew up in Melbourne.  He and his wife, Sandra and daughters, Catherine and Elizabeth, moved to Wangaratta in 1973.  Peter taught at the Technical College, TAFE, Wangaratta Secondary College and finally Wangaratta High School before retiring at the end of 1993.  In his retirement Peter purchased a local taxi and had that business for six year, finally retiring in 2000.  Peter received a diploma of Careers from Rusden in 1980 and then introduced a Work Experience Program at the Technical school.  He is particularly proud that he was able to place of 2,500 students in that program.

Peter joined the Tourist Information Centre in 1988, he was absent during the taxi years, but rejoined in 2000.  Peter’s interests include:  sailing, the great Richmond “Tigers” AFL club, umpiring, golf at Waldara, Wangaratta community involvement in many local support groups especially the Court Network and the Tourist Information Centre, the L2P Program, ground work at the Water Tower in Millard Street, the croquet club lawn markings and the Australian bush, especially the wool industry. Peter has enjoyed travel wherever Sandra takes him in Australia and the world.   He also takes pride in his family, his home and garden.  Peter hopes he has many more years assisting at the Tourist Information Centre where he enjoys assisting locals and travellers in this important service promoting Wangaratta and the North East of Victoria.

In 2013 Peter was awarded the Wangaratta Achiever Award and in 2019 he was awarded the Wangaratta Citizen of the Year.  Peter felt privileged to be invited by the Dirrawarra Indigenous Network to have his handprint carved into the Marmungan Rock.  

2020 Warren Garrett

As a youngster, Dr Allan Warren Garrett regularly visited relatives in Wangaratta. He first moved to the town in 1972 as the District Inspector of Schools. In that role he built up an intricate knowledge of the region and met many people.

In 1994, after a period as visiting professor at the University of Texas at Austin, he was appointed as Chief Commissioner to oversee the amalgamation of the city and shires.

 Enforced amalgamation was never going to be popular and Dr Garrett took on the challenge with gusto, grit and compassion. He worked through the challenges of the various pre-amalgamation finances to produce a sustainable vision, budget (and logo) for the new municipality.

 Dr Garrett retired to Wangaratta in 2008. One post retirement initiative has resulted in a new multi-million dollar riverside RSL sub-branch with over 3000 members. Another project close to his heart has been, in 1972, initiating the development of the 15 Mile Creek school camp which, in 50 years, has become the premier bush camp for all primary school children in the state.

He has said that he feels totally honoured and humbled to have been nominated as Citizen of the Year in 2020 and, consequently, being invited to leave his handprint on the rock – just across from his cousins’ old home in Clements St.

2021 Graham Colson

Graham Colson, now working as a farmer, is a proud fourth generation volunteer firefighter. He has been firefighting for over 66 years.  He has held many roles including Group Officer of Wangaratta Fire Brigades Group. In 2010 he was awarded District 23 Life Membership of Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria. Graham's other community works include 30 years with the Warby Range Landcare group and 53 years with the Wangaratta Ski Club.  Both organisations have awarded Graham life memberships for his contributions. Graham actively participates with the project to ensure the Turquoise Parrots survival in the Warby ranges. Retiring after 28 years with Victoria Police, Graham is now actively involved with the Retired Police association in the North East. Reliable, practical, inspiring are words used to describe Graham's attributes.

2022 John Houghton & Jennefer Houghton

Mr John Houghton & Mrs Jennefer Houghton

John and Jennefer Houghton have been outstanding members of the community, tireless volunteers, and enthusiastic ambassadors for Wangaratta throughout their lives.

They have been compassionate foster carers for 16 years, fostering over 100 children through Upper Murray Family Care.

Jennefer is a founding member of Wangaratta Connected Community Inc, which provides grants to local Not for Profit organisations. John has been elected the Lions Club District Governor of District 201 V6, is a founding member and also President of Wangaratta Carevan and Board Member of Business Wangaratta. The Houghton’s are also well known for their Christmas House each year in Tavern Terrace.

2023 Neil Jarrott

Neil is known to the Local residents as the “ Mayor of Moyhu” and although he tends to work in the background, Neil takes great initiative and what he doesn’t know about the area isn’t worth knowing.

Neil is involved in multiple groups and committees, both past and present and he is always available unless his schedule clashes with another community commitment. Neil is an inspirational person and a role model for the community and proves this time and time again through his dedication and commitment.

Also, Neil was selected for the Victorian Young Farmers exchange program to the United Kingdom in 1974, became worshipful master at Moyhu Valley Lodge in 1998, remained as an active member until it closed in 2022 and worked with other members to disperse the lodge funds as donations to local community groups. Neil was the lead person responsible for the successful stopover of 2014 Great Victoria Bike ride. Moyhu became a festival for thousands of riders, and it was voted as “the most welcoming town“ by the riders. Neil is committed to the welfare and wellbeing of the community.

2024 Ruth Kneebone

Ruth is a dedicated volunteer and active community member across multiple RCOW community organisations that benefit the sporting, culture and welfare of others across our town. Ruth is being nominated to acknowledge her lifetime of service to the Wangaratta community and the various community and sporting organisations she has led and been a part of.

Her impact on these organisations has been significant and she continues to devote herself to these causes/organisations to support them to grow, develop and stay relevant to modern regional communities. Her tenure and volunteer duties with the organisations over her lifetime are outlined below:

• Northeast Health Wangaratta – Director since 2019

• Into Our Hands Community Foundation – Chair 2019-2023

• Give Wangaratta Advisory Committee member – since 2019

• Whorouly Football Netball Club – Committee member 2018-2022; Treasurer 2021-22

• Tarrawingee Netball Club – Coach C – 1998, B – 1999, A & B – 2000,

President 2000

• Everton Tennis Club – Secretary 1998-1999; Treasurer since 2015

• Everton Hall and Sports Complex – Treasurer 1999-2011; President 2012-2013

and since 2019

• Hodgson & Horseshoe Creeks Landcare Group – Secretary 2019-2021

Ruth is the epitome of excellence, dedication, attention to detail, good governance and leadership and is always wonderful to deal with. She is the best example I can think of as a regional leader and has been able to use her skills and expertise in the areas of finance and governance to improve the organisations she works and volunteers for.

Committed to learning and growing her knowledge in many areas since her retirement from RCOW as Director of Corporate Services, Ruth has shown her commitment to volunteering in her roles with Into Our Hands Community Foundation and Northeast Health as well as the other groups above. It is timely that her contribution be acknowledged.

For Into Our Hands, she successfully led the organisation to sustain and build new revenue as she has done at Everton Hall also. She is about to step down after 4 years as chair of the local foundation Into Our hands and her stewardship of this organisation, its growth and the legacy it will create for this region over the next generation should be commended.