Works to begin on Indigenous Art Garden at Rotary Park, Warragul

The Rotary Club of Warragul, our Indigenous community and Baw Baw Shire Council are working together to create a new garden of local cultural significance.

Weather permitting, works are set to begin on Monday 16 May for stage one of the Indigenous Art Garden at Rotary Park, Warragul.

The garden will be a living representation of a painting by renowned local Indigenous artist Dr Aunty Eileen Harrison. Adapted from the artwork by local landscape designer Prue Metcalfe, the garden comprises six paths leading to a central meeting place for elders to pass on their knowledge to the young. Of the design’s significance, Aunty Eileen said, “it is important for us all to be connected to the land and to care for it.”

The project celebrates 100 years of Rotary service in Australia. It aims to provide insight into the culture of the Kurnai people and build stronger connections with the land we live on and with each other.

Di Carson, Rotary Club of Warragul President, said “the Club is proud to work with our local Kurnai people on the project. When the park is finished, it will become a place for the community and visitors to learn more about Kurnai culture – their stories and how the land provided for their needs. Our Club has adopted this project to mark the celebration of one hundred years of Rotary service in Australia.”

Funding for the $120,000 construction of the paths and the central circle is being provided by Baw Baw Shire Council and the Rotary Club of Warragul, with Council supplying approximately 80% of the project costs and the Rotary Club contributing the remaining 20% and also managing procurement and contractors.

Of the culturally significant project, Mayor of Baw Baw Shire Cr Michael Leaney said “the new feature in the park supports council’s vision for a sustainable, healthy, and thriving community. It will encourage more people to get outside, connect with nature and venture onto the extensive walking tracks from Rotary Park to Brooker Park in one direction and to Burke Street Park in the other direction.”

The Mayor also noted the fortuitous timing of the project’s commencement, with National Reconciliation Week running from 27 May to 3 June.

“The theme of Reconciliation Week 2022 is to be brave and make change,” said Cr Leaney.

“I think this project embodies that spirit. By working together, the local Indigenous community, the Warragul Rotary Club and Baw Baw Shire Council are creating lasting change at this site which not only acknowledges our local Kurnai people, but provides a site to meet, reflect and share knowledge. Baw Baw Shire Council is proud to support this project.”

Stage one works are expected to be completed by early July, with community engagement and fund raising for subsequent stages to follow. Subsequent stages plan to include the installation of totems in the central circle, plant borders to the paths, and seating.

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