Friday 31 May 2019 was Hillbrook’s 32nd birthday and our Principal, Mr Geoff Newton, shared these words at our Foundation Day Celebration.


“Today I would like to talk about one of the things we believe at Hillbrook; everyone can lead, and that leading is making a positive difference in the lives of others. I would like to blend that with part of our acknowledgement of country as we celebrate Reconciliation Week.

At the heart of every Acknowledgements of Country is the phrase “The Custodians of the land upon which we now assemble”, and on our Foundation Day I ask; What does this really mean?

Let’s do a quick scan of what humans have done on the Hillbrook site over time to get an understanding of custodianship. Recent activities include:

  • Elliot, Max, Ethan, Archie, James, Kell, Ben, Tim, Sophie, Theo, Amber, and Oscar along with Ms Nagle and Mr Larkin, continued clearing the creek area of weeds. They have done this over many weeks, and are building on the work carried out over 30 years of planting and tending this area.
  • Ms Johnstone and her group continue helping us recycle and reuse material that would otherwise go to landfill
  • Mr Cambridge, Ms Laws and others continue to provide habitats, improve our understanding of our wildlife and its importance to us.
  • Solar panels donated by the P&F reduce our carbon footprint.

Over 100 years ago a boy’s home was built on this land and boys like Bill and Jack played in the creek 100 metres from here. They caught freshwater yabbies and enjoyed exploring and swimming in Kedron Brook and Enoggera Creek, which often flooded the surrounding river flats.

Over 180 years ago during the 1840s, farming commenced here, the Enoggera Dam was built in the 1860s changing the surrounding natural environment and by 1880 Chinese immigrants farmed their market gardens and Enoggera was a thriving wine growing area. Hurdcotte was the name of the Homestead for one of the vineyards situated in the area.

In 1824 the first European explorer; John Oxley met the Turrabul people, close to where we are gathered today.

All the while the stately red gums, some of which remain along the creek today, grew and watched over these developments and will continue to do so, long into the future. 

But all this is just the tip of a very long history of human presence. Europeans have been settled here for around ten generations, in contrast to Aboriginal people who lived on the land around us for thousands of generations. This area was a significant place for Aboriginal people. There were important Bora grounds near here, where sacred ceremonies such as initiation rites were carried out.  The Enoggera Boras all seem to have faced Enoggera Hill suggesting its spiritual importance.

Image credit: Katherine Harries

Our school is adjacent to a large campsite that ran from the hillside on the Mt Maria site down to the flats beside Kedron Brook where we now play sport.

Let’s try to imagine life in those nearby campsites. This area offered excellent shelter, food and water.  Many animals came to drink at the brook and provided a plentiful food source.  For the Turrabul people, the creek also offered a place to build fish traps and fish from natural ponds. The rich rainforest vegetation provided an abundance of material to build and support a thriving community, one in tune with its surroundings.

It was close to major trading routes that linked the Bunya mountains in the north to the coastal areas in the east.  These trading routes are now Waterworks and Gympie Roads. 

Aboriginal Culture is an oral one which means much of their culture is told in stories.  Daily life included time set aside for those stories, much like a combination of our ceremonies and assemblies and classes. They served to remind and reinforce the important elements of their culture.

The Aboriginal people’s lives were focused on learning, spirituality, cultural activities, trade and care for the land of their ancestors, very different from our focus on accumulation of material possessions and wealth and the here and now.

This daily and community activity happened over thousands of years, much longer than the memories of the oldest trees.  But only now this country knows the value of their custodianship. Custodianship does not degrade the environment; it allows people to live and thrive with the resources available, only taking what is needed and giving back in equal measure. They were true custodians of the land, they did not claim or own the land, they held it in trust and passed on the benefits to future generations, as a gift to be shared and celebrated.

So let’s ask ourselves, what am I doing to be a better custodian of this land and this world?  What am I passing on to the next generation?

Changing our thinking and our habits now can make a big difference. It’s time to start thinking about how we restore and improve our environment rather than use it without thought

When I switch on the A/C, rather than open a window or put on a jumper, am I being a good custodian?

When I throw something on the ground, rather than put it in the appropriate bin, am I being a good custodian?

When I use single use plastic bags, straws and the like, am I being a good custodian?

When I waste food am I being a good custodian?

When I change nothing and expect others to do my share, am I being a good custodian?

Our challenge as individuals, and as a community, is to be responsible for our actions and leave this land in a better state than we found it.

At Hillbrook we believe we can all lead, and good leaders know that they must accept responsibility for their actions, but they also know that they must uphold the integrity of their beliefs. If we all do this, then those who come after will see the value of what we have done. They can build on this and will see us, as the acknowledgement goes, as true custodians of the land on which we now assemble.

Wouldn’t that be a wonderful thing.”