Yananurala – acknowledging Country on Sydney harbour’s foreshore walk

City of Sydney
A name from the Gadigal language has been selected for a nine-kilometre walk that highlights Aboriginal history and culture at places along the Sydney harbour foreshore.
Yananurala translates to Walking on Country and will share Aboriginal perspectives and stories through a series of artworks and installations from Pirrama (Pyrmont) to Woolloomooloo, including Barangaroo, Ta-ra (Dawes Point) and Warrane (Circular Quay).
The selection of the name Yananurala follows extensive consultation with the City of Sydney’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander advisory panel and local Aboriginal community.
Devised by Wiradjuri curator Emily McDaniel, the signposted walk will include audio and text-based installations and public artworks that recognise the local Aboriginal community of Sydney, and their language, culture, resilience and connection to Country and the harbour.
Yananurala combines two Gadigal words, yana (walk) and nura (Country). The ‘la’ adds an instruction, encouraging people to go walking on Country. The phrases ‘Yanala ngarala gadinurada. Yururala, yana yuramirung.’ (Walk, think, listen, hear on Gadi Country. Feel it strongly, walk with us.) will also be added to signs and materials about the walk.
“The walk is an Acknowledgement of Country in its truest, most ancient form,” curator Emily McDaniel said.
“As you walk the shoreline, interact with public art and stories, hear whispers of language and place your feet in the water, you are introducing yourself to this Country so that it will remember you. This is about you seeing what we see, feeling what we feel and hearing what we hear.”
Lord Mayor Clover Moore said that the harbour walk is the next step in the City’s Eora Journey program of recognising First Nations culture and heritage in the public domain.
“Despite the destructive impact of invasion, Indigenous cultures endured and are now globally recognised as the world’s oldest continuous living cultures,” the Lord Mayor said.
“The City is committed to re-balancing the work of previous Australian governments, at all levels, by developing ways to make the world’s oldest continuing culture a visible and tangible presence in our City.
“Our plans for a 9km walk along the harbour foreshore will help further recognise Aboriginal spirituality and enduring presence, cultural heritage and contemporary expression in a prominent and creative way.
“Yananurala will be a transformative experience for locals and visitors alike, featuring public art and installations at significant locations to tell a story of culture, strength, resilience, survival and continuity.”
A bara – the traditional shell hook crafted and used by Gadigal women for fishing on the harbour – has been selected as the icon for the walk to be used on wayfinding signage and maps. The crescent shape of the hook also reflects the natural coves of Sydney Harbour and the sails of the Sydney Opera House.
Waanyi artist Judy Watson has created a six-metre tall bara that will take pride of place on the Tarpeian Precinct Lawn above Dubbagullee (Bennelong Point), as a monument to the Eora, and one of the stops along Yananurala.
Other elements along the planned walk include:
• Installations that explain four sitelines or relationships between places of historical and cultural significance;
• A series of audio and text-based installations that respond to hidden harbour histories at locations along the foreshore;
• An environmental, artist-led project to build on research around badu (water) and acknowledgement of Country as land, water and sky;
• A public artwork at Pirrama (Pyrmont), next to the Australian Maritime Museum, to recognise Aboriginal peoples’ relationship to water;
• A public art project at The Hungry Mile, Barangaroo, recognising the role of Aboriginal people in Sydney’s maritime history;
• A public art project at Ta-ra (Dawes Point) that highlights the site where Patyegarang gifted the Sydney Aboriginal language to William Dawes, recording it for future generations in his notebooks;
• A public art project at Circular Quay linking Aboriginal history associated with the Government Boatshed to the resilience of Aboriginal communities; and
• A community public art project that recognises the history and enduring presence of Aboriginal people in Woolloomooloo.
The City of Sydney’s Eora Journey program is curated by Hetti Perkins and delivered as part of the City’s public art program, City Art.
Wayfinding will be installed in the coming months, with artists invited to create the first series of audio and text-based installations later this year.
The Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council has provided its advice and support for the name and planned projects. NSW Government agencies and cultural institutions have also been consulted and will collaborate on its implementation.
Endorsements of Yananurala:
Nathan Moran, CEO Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council:
“Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council is the representative body for all Aboriginal people and responsible for protection and preservation of all Aboriginal cultural heritage for the area of the Yananurala project. We are pleased to work with the City of Sydney and NSW Government on Yananurala, literally in Gadigal meaning ‘walking on country’, to highlight the Eora and / or Aboriginal history and culture along the harbour foreshore area for the benefit of all.”
Beau James, Head of First Nations Programming, Sydney Opera House and current City of Sydney Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander panel member:
“Naming brings Country to life. I look at Yananurala as contemporary songlines. Our songlines have always been there. They are under bricks and water, but we’re bringing them up to the surface, and what we are adding to them now is a contemporary voice.”
Louise Herron AM, CEO, Sydney Opera House:
“We are thrilled that Yananurala starts at the new Bara sculpture, overlooking the Sydney Opera House. The walk is a wonderful way for people to explore and celebrate the city’s First Nations history, as well as its natural beauty.”
Denise Ora, Chief Executive Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust:
“Recognising cultural heritage and linking Sydney’s unique precincts along the Harbour Walk is another wonderful way the community can enjoy our public spaces. This project is outstanding, and the naming of the walk brings it to life.”
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