The Prologue was written and read by local accomplished literary figures Kim Scott, Dianne Wolfer and Maree Dawes.
Kim Scott the author of That Deadman Dance, told the story of Flinder's men and their funny dance and how the Noongar people used to dance to tell the story of the 'dance'.
"I'm afraid I've got nothing new to say,
or newly minted for this very special occasion
But - if you'll bear with me and can stand the contradiction - I think I can offer something original...
Original, in a certain sense of the world
I'm trying to pass on something much older,
something of the sound of this place,
and some scenes from a time when Noongar people - they that use the one word, Kaya, to say both 'hello' and 'yes' - contributed so much to this society here,
this place sometimes called the 'friendly frontier'
Here, at this very place
(or hereabouts, since we stand on 'reclaimed' land at the waters' edge)
Noongar people took a military drill performed by Matthew Flinders men,
and transformed it into a dance.
Flinders meant it as a way of saying goodbye, I guess, meant it as a gift.
But isn't it also a very rare gift to be able to turn such stiff-limbed and military movements,
all those sharp flutes and drums and rifle shots, into a dance...
Kenning, Noongar say, Ken waabiny
Kening nitja boojar-ngat.
Dancing this land/sea beside
Baalain boola boola djin baaminy nitja boojar.
Their many many feet striking this earth
Wadarn maambakoort maambangat-ngat
Ocean ocean(alternative) ocean(alternative)
Dancing, singing, their many feet striking the earth here, at this edge of the sea...forever
With that spirit of kaya (hello and yes) I thank the Minang Noongar community's representative,
Alwyn Coyne, for his welcome, and acknowledge the Roberts clan and the Wirlomin Noongar people for giving me this
sound; this tongue you are listening to right now:
Nitja mayer waangkiny nyoondakat
This sound (also hut or liver) speaking all of you
ear understanding now
It’s a tongue with much to say that’s good,
and some that’s bad, about Albany - or King George Town as it was also known.
An old song from the late 19C and from East of here, looking in this direction, goes:
Ngyn ngan demanga
Me my old people of
Cutting/timber-ing bad becoming
Me, my old people,
our gaze like spears,
cutting through the distance toward
all that’s becoming bad.
at King George Town.
King George Town.
The colonial name, hear it? See? Surrounded by the sound of Noongar.
Another of those old Noongar songs from this south coast begins, in English:
Captain on a rough sea
Captain on a rough sea
Captain on a rough sea
How about that?
An old Noongar song gives the point view of a sailor and a sound from across the sea,
contained within the sound that belongs right here.
Kaya. It’s an affirmation.
Maamang-miny biirt wadjela bardlanginy
Whale similar/like track/energy/sinew Europeans travel
this way/toward us
Naanup nitja boojar waadarn-ngat
Camp/stay this earth ocean-beside
Sailors came here the same way the whales came,
came from over the horizon,
came around the islands…
Came from out where Noongar ancestors walked in the cold time …
Strangers and sailors blew into here,
and landed upon this cold and windy side of the harbour,
this shore right here where we are now…
Strangers and sailors and Noongar, all here, altogether.
Nitja kwop, nyinalangainy wangelangainy yey
This good sitting/being-all together speaking-all together now
It is good all of us being here, talking together, now.
I will see you later, by and by.
Dianne Wolfer is an award-winning Australian children's author. The Lighthouse Girl is based on the true story of Fay Howe, daughter of the Banksea Island lighthouse keeper, who relayed messages for the departing Anzac troops in 1914.
This building stands on land that has inspired many.
The first arrivals were welcomed generously by the traditional owners and tonight this spirit of friendship has been acknowledged.
People from faraway have walked here. Their hearts filled with hope, courage and anticipation. This evening we feel their presence.
Vancouver, Baudin, Freycinet and their brave crews are with us. Their bold spirits travel on the wind and lapping waves help us celebrate.
Major Lockyer, Governor Stirling and the early settlers of Frederickstown, the soldiers, convicts and ticket-of-leave men. The sealers, whalers, the wives and children, welcome them all into the audience and let them join in the applause.
Musicians, beat your drums for the soldiers who sailed from these safe waters to war torn lands. Sing for Father White and the parishioners who gazed across this harbour as they celebrated that very first dawn service. Remember also those who did not return.
Reflect on those who stood here. The tradesmen, merchants, labourers and families. And recognise the leaders who believed in this building from the very beginning. Take pride in the contribution of each individual and enjoy the diversity of what this place represents.
The sand in the foundations of this proud new structure holds the echo of these voices. As you cheer tonight’s entertainers, let Albany’s past and present merge with the future. Let those who perform here, challenge our minds and inspire creativity across the community. This entertainment centre belongs to us all. Let our rich history lead us forward.
An Albany poet, published nationally and internationally.
When she was in grade 4
forty years ago
it was said there would be a new theatre
for dance and music and drama
that it would be built soon
yellow crane, silver boned roofline
bonsai Christmas tree on top
mutterings of sinking ships
and broken whales
from here the town shows off its terraces
the southern ocean beats on distant cliffs
shallow waters of the harbour lap lap lap
performers reach the red stage door
casuarinas are already whispering
7000 of us came for open day
tried out dressing rooms
picked best seats
masters of baroque
atmospheric on harpsichord
York Street filled with rippling crowds
across the bridge down the steps
the audience is gathering
hurry find your purple seat
it seems born of these hills
water worn slipways
crystals that form slowly
then hold for aeons
glass for sea and sky
black butt curving round the heart