A large crowd gathered at the Campbell’s Creek community centre last Friday to mark the funeral of one of this community’s most distinguished leaders: Dja Dja Wurrung elder Uncle Brien Nelson, who died on June 28.
There is a good account of Uncle Brien’s life and achievements in the Bendigo Advertiser. It can be found here
Uncle Brien played an important part in the advisory panel setting up the Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park. He was a Park Ranger for many years, and had a profound understanding of the links between cultural and natural heritage.
At a ceremony to mark his appointment as honorary associate of Latrobe University in 2009, historian Gerry Gill described him as a ‘pre-eminent Aboriginal leader, who has made an extraordinary lifelong contribution to the recognition of indigenous culture and reconciliation.’ Uncle Brien’s response then was a characteristic mixture of eloquence and self effacement, including his summing up: ‘I never thought I’d be honoured by anything or anyone. I was happy just to be there.’ In 2017 he was too ill to attend a ceremony to mark his inclusion on the Victorian Aboriginal Honour Roll, but his daughter played a video in which he said, in the same spirit: ‘Thank you for taking the time to listen to a person’s dreams.’
Vale Uncle Brien.