Box HER19 Moree Baths and Swimming Pool Complex—a National Heritage place

The Moree Baths and Swimming Pool Complex was the 100th place to be included on the National Heritage List, in September 2013 (DoEE n.d.[h]). The complex became a symbol of official segregation and the exclusion of Aboriginal people during the 1965 Freedom Ride, during which Student Action for Aborigines visited rural towns in New South Wales and southern Queensland to highlight inequalities and racism experienced by Aboriginal people. The ride was led by Indigenous student activist Charles Perkins.

Arriving in Moree on 19 February 1965, the Freedom Riders encountered a bylaw that prevented Indigenous people from entering the Moree Baths and Pool. The ensuing protest and its consequences were of pivotal importance in the history of Australian race relations, as they drew widespread attention to racial discrimination, resulting in a change in attitude in the Australian community.

The state of the environment report in 2011 (SoE Committee 2011) observed that the spirit of the Freedom Ride was part of our national story, but the associated places were not listed on any statutory heritage register at the time. The inclusion of the Moree Baths and Swimming Pool Complex on the National Heritage List demonstrates a broadening and more inclusive approach to understanding how Indigenous historic themes are part of our heritage. This approach is similarly reflected in the more recent inclusion on the National Heritage List of The Burke, Wills, King and Yandruwandha National Heritage Place in January 2016, recognising not only the epic story of European explorers, but also the support provided by the Yandruwandha Aboriginal people as the expedition passed through their traditional lands (DoEE 2016a).

Moree Baths and Swimming Pool Complex

Moree Baths and Swimming Pool Complex

Photo by Peter Read (courtesy of the Australian Government Department of the Environment and Energy, Heritage Photo Library)

Moree Baths and Swimming Pool Complex, New South Wales

Mackay R (2016). Heritage: Box HER19 Moree Baths and Swimming Pool Complex—a National Heritage place. In: Australia state of the environment 2016, Australian Government Department of the Environment and Energy, Canberra, https://soe.environment.gov.au/case-study/heritage/box-her19-moree-baths-and-swimming-pool-complex-national-heritage-place, DOI 10.4226/94/58b658bbe13a0