Smoking ceremony launches new garden

The new Indigenous healing garden at Katoomba Hospital was given a baptism of fire - literally - today (Friday) when a smoking ceremony was held there to mark Sorry Day.

Paul Glass starting the smoking ceremony in the Indigenous healing garden at Katoomba Hospital.

Paul Glass starting the smoking ceremony in the Indigenous healing garden at Katoomba Hospital.

Paul Glass conducted the ceremony in the fire pit at the new garden, which is designed to be a place of peaceful retreat for patients, visitors and staff.

New garden: Paul Glass conducts a smoking ceremony in the fire pit of the new Indigenous healing garden at Katoomba Hospital.

New garden: Paul Glass conducts a smoking ceremony in the fire pit of the new Indigenous healing garden at Katoomba Hospital.

Tucked into a corner of a courtyard, the garden features sandstone seats and a range of shrubs, grasses and groundcovers.

A crowd of nearly 100 people gathered at the hospital to mark Sorry Day.

After a welcome to country by Aunty Carol Cooper, the hospital's general manager, Andrea Williams, said the garden was intended to be a place "for both patients and the community to promote healing".

She said it will ultimately feature a list of the Indigenous soldiers killed in the Great War.

The garden was an idea of some of the local Indigenous women who were looking for a way to celebrate and commemorate Aboriginal people at the hospital.

The proposal was taken up by Blackheath Rotary in 2015, under then president Eddie McCoy, to mark the centenary of the Gallipoli landing. Mr McCoy said the plan was to specifically honour Indigenous men and women who served and who were treated poorly when they returned home from World War One.

Sorry Day is a day of remembrance. It was first held on May 26, 1998, a year after the tabling of the report, Bringing Them Home, which acknowledged the trauma and pain of the Stolen Generations who were forcibly removed from the families between the 1800s and 1970s.