Pray for our nation

Our nation is in a time of national discernment around the issue of whether or not to enshrine The Voice to Parliament for Indigenous Australians in the constitution.  As the referendum date approaches, the WellSpring Board invite you to deepen in God and live love by intentionally being prayerful about this topic.

Each Monday, at noon, we host an in person and zoom space where anyone can join us to pause and contemplate the reminder to, Do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God.” (Micah 6:8). More details here. You may choose a different time or individual prayer or group to gather alongside.

Wellspring embraces the opportunity to learn from a range of resources and reflect on the matters that will inform individual decisions when we cast our votes later this year.  We will be offering some reflections for your own contemplation.

On Monday 4th September, we will use a Visio Divina style prayer on the image below. You are invited to use the image and outline for your own prayer.




On 17th  September the Centre for a Compassionate Society  will host  

Rev Canon Dr Garry Deverell, trawloolway man:

'A Voice from the Heart: contemplation and compassion on country’. 
 and  Mary Crooks, Executive Director of the Victorian Women’s Trust and Project Director of ‘Together, Yes’, a campaign to bring the referendum home.

Details and register for this free event via the link below. For those who can't attend in person, the event will be recorded and posted on this same page:


The history of the Wurundjeri in Ashburton


Prior to European settlement the Wurundjeri moved freely over the land, making camps along the rivers and creeks; collecting Murnong roots (Yam Daisies) and hunting the plentiful wildlife. Much of the area of Boroondara was very swampy, and in winter the Wurundjeri would move to higher ground amongst the Dandenongs and Yarra ranges. The Ashburton area was largely tended by Burrenupton’s people in 1835.

In early 1836 John Gardiner sailed up the Yarra from Van Dieman’s Land to purchase a cattle/sheep station in the new Port Phillip settlement. Joseph Gellibrand arranged for him to lease the land (from the Crown, not the Wurundjeri) that occupied much of the area from the Yarra to the Kooyong Koot Creek (now Gardiners Creek). John and Mary Gardiner built a small farm house on the site of Scotch College, and began driving cattle and sheep down from NSW. Very quickly the sheep ate up all the Murnong, and the hooved animals churned up the swampy earth completely altering the fragile ecological balance of the area.

The native wildlife began to struggle for food, and the indigenous people found that all their food sources were being decimated.

Unsurprisingly the hungry local people began stealing the stock and potatoes out of the Gardiner’s vegetable plot. Gardiner and his family were deeply committed Methodists who held regular bible studies and prayer meetings at their home. On one such day when they were gathered for prayer, loud cries of “Murder!” were heard outside the house. The guard -Underwood - had seen two indigenous men carrying baskets of potatoes out of the garden and understood that there were others still within the vegetable plot. Initially on approaching them, weapons had been drawn, but one of the men – known as Tullamarine – had intervened and got his people to lower their weapons. Underwood had then fled back to the house yelling “Murder!” simply to get everyone’s attention. Men gathered in the house came running out with their guns and began giving chase to the guys running away. The Wurundjeri jumped into the creek and were fired upon by Gardiner’s men. Three escaped across the water, but Tullamarine and JinJin were captured, and arrested for theft.

They were ordered to Sydney for trial, but whilst waiting for the ship, they set fire to the thatched jail and escaped. Tullamarine was re-arrested but on arrival at the court in Sydney, his case was dismissed as he could not speak English. According to local legend he walked the 600 miles back to Naarm and settled in the area now named after him.

After the Potato theft incident numbers of Wurundjeri dropped drastically, and distressed people moved north into the highlands never to return.

The current Gardiners Creek no longer has any of the vegetation and trees of the original Kooyong Koot, but maybe next time you wander along it, imagine the original owners living along its banks for centuries until the Europeans arrived. Feel the pain of their displacement, and ask our Creator how can justice be done now?


This reflection is based on an article by Sarah Craze – a local Ashburton historian, who has explored the indigenous history of the land on which Wellspring is located. See here for the full article:

Anne Wilkinson-Hayes

22 July 2023