Harbour walk to honour Eora Country

Emily McDaniel - photo by Katherine Griffiths / City of SydneyA new City of Sydney harbour walk will share and celebrate new and old stories of the First Peoples of Australia with public art, exhibitions and events at cultural institutions and significant harbour locations.

Independent Aboriginal curator Emily McDaniel will curate a series of interconnected stories and artworks along Sydney Harbour foreshore, from the Australian National Maritime Museum in Tumbalong (Darling Harbour) to Woolloomooloo Bay.

The harbour walk will be developed in partnership with the NSW Government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, with guidance from the City’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Panel.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the 9km harbour foreshore walk reflects the City’s longstanding commitment to honouring the First Peoples of Australia. “Our community has told us resoundingly they want to hear Indigenous stories and see them embedded into our city,” said the Lord Mayor.

“This beautiful harbour walk, rich in history and living cultures, will honour the First Peoples of Australia and share the stories of the Eora nation, while connecting some of the world’s most recognised arts and cultural institutions along our world-famous harbour foreshore.”

“Locals and visitors will be able to learn about the concept of Country in a way that Aboriginal people have understood and experienced their land for millennia. We are extremely proud to be celebrating Indigenous heritage and culture in such a prominent, creative and educational way.”

Next week, Council will vote on plans for the harbour walk, which include:

  • a Sydney Aboriginal name and icon for the walk that embodies the significance of the harbour and foreshore
  • eight installations incorporating audio that frame and explain ‘sitelines’ along the walk – sitelines are relationships between sites of historical and cultural significance
  • text or audio installations that respond to the intimate, hidden histories of the harbour at 12 locations along the foreshore
  • an environmental project led by an artist in partnership with universities and marine institutes 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 the connection between Aboriginal people and the harbour
  • a public art project at The Hungry Mile, Barangaroo, recognising Aboriginal people in Sydney’s maritime history
  • a public art project at Ta-ra (Dawes Point) that highlights the site where Patyegarang gifted the language of her people 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 in Sydney
  • a community-based public art project that recognises the history and enduring presence of Aboriginal people in Woolloomooloo.

The walk will also link existing public artworks such as Warrang by Brook Andrew outside the Museum of Contemporary Art and Brenda L Croft’s Wuganmagulya (Farm Cove) in the Royal Botanic Gardens.

Ms McDaniel said the harbour walk will tell a story about strength, resilience, survival and continuity. “The harbour walk is marked by sitelines – places that contain and interconnect the stories, memories and histories of Country. These are the veins of Sydney, a living and breathing place,” said Ms McDaniel.

“The walk is an Acknowledgement of Country in its truest, most ancient form. We tread lightly and mindfully, with the knowledge that this site holds all the memories of everyone who has ever lived on this land.”

“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.”

The walk will create economic opportunities for Aboriginal-owned tour operators and businesses, and create new spaces for cultural tours and performances. The City will work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, Place Management NSW and other government agencies, the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council, cultural institutions and project partners to deliver the projects along the harbour.

The harbour walk is part of the City’s Eora Journey program to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the public domain. It is supported by Eora Journey curatorial advisor Hetti Perkins.

Recent Eora Journey projects include YININMADYEMI Thou didst let fall by Tony Albert in Hyde Park, which honours Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service men and service women, and the landmark mural Welcome to Redfern by Reko Rennie and local Aboriginal youth.

A fourth public art project as part of the Eora Journey will be bara Monument for the Eora by Judy Watson. Inspired by the crescent shapes of ‘bara’ – traditional fish hooks crafted and used by Gadigal women for thousands of years – the work will take pride of place on the Tarpeian Lawn above Dubbagullee, also known as Bennelong Point. Standing more than six metres tall, it will acknowledge clans of the Eora Nation and Elders past and present.

The walk will form part of the Bondi to Manly walk, a multi-day coastal walk extending 80kms. The walk links two of Sydney’s most iconic beaches by connecting existing tracks and paths along the Sydney Harbour foreshore. For more information, visit: www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au for details.

Image: Emily McDaniel – photo by Katherine Griffiths / City of Sydney