Pastor Sir Douglas & Lady Gladys Nicholls Memorial – Melbourne, Australia - Atlas Obscura

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Pastor Sir Douglas & Lady Gladys Nicholls Memorial

This 2008 memorial commemorates two leading Aboriginal Australian rights activists. 


Situated in Parliament Gardens in central Melbourne, this memorial commemorates the remarkable lives of Douglas and Gladys Nicholls, two leading Aboriginal Australian rights activists from the Cummeragunja Mission in New South Wales. The monument is situated in Parliament Gardens in central Melbourne and is the first in the city to depict Aboriginal Australian leaders. Australian artist Louis Laume created the sculptures, which were unveiled to the public on December 9, 2007. 

Born in 1906, Douglas Nicholls became a prominent Australian rules football player. The only Aboriginal Australian player in the league, sports crowds called him the “flying Abo” and worse. By the mid-1930s, Nicholls became involved in Aboriginal Australian rights organizations eventually co-founding the Victorian Aborigines Advancement League in 1957. He led protests and fought against assimilation policies with the VAAL and other organizations. In 1972, he became the first Aboriginal Australian to be knighted.

Gladys Nicholls was also born in 1906. At 19, she married Douglas Nicholls’s brother Howard. In 1942, Howard tragically died in a car accident, leaving Gladys with three children to care for. Less than a year later, she married Douglas. Throughout her life, Gladys was involved in many social reform projects that targeted poverty and social inequality, mostly in the Aboriginal Australian community across Melbourne. She later became secretary of the National Aboriginal and Islander Women’s Council and was inducted into the Victorian Honour Roll of Women in 2008.

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