Sculptures Beside the Murray River in Albury Showcase Local Aboriginal Culture
Aboriginal sculptures along a walking/cycling track beside the Murray River in the Australian bush – this is the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk.
Yindyamarra: respect; go slowly; do properly.
The Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk in Albury is a 5.3-kilometre (return) section of the much longer Wagirra Trail (15 kilometres return, linking Wonga Wetlands with the South Albury Trail). Following the Murray River, the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk stretches from the Kremur Street boat ramp (off Padman Drive in West Albury) to Horseshoe Lagoon (accessed via the Riverina Highway). You can do the walk in the reverse direction.
Completed in December 2014, there are nine contemporary sculptures along the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk created by Aboriginal artists telling stories of their living culture. The sculptures are accompanied by explanatory panels, with videos available via smartphone that narrate the story of Aboriginal history and the cultural significance of the Murray River. The sculptures are a celebration of local Aboriginal culture.
Bicycle riders, walkers, and joggers share the predominantly flat, 2-metre-wide sealed path. Dogs on leads are permitted.
Albury, on the New South Wales side of the Murray River (Australia’s longest river), is located in Wiradjuri Country – the traditional lands of the Aboriginal Wiradjuri people.
Yindyamarra is a word from the Wiradjuri language, meaning respect, be gentle, be polite, and do slowly.
This post is written from experience as I have walked the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk three times. Refer to the end of this post to know the lessons I have learned from walking the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk three times.
At the time of writing, the signage showing where the location of the sculptures was not up to date. Starting at Kremur Street boat ramp, the sculptures end 750 metres beyond Horseshoe Lagoon.
Starting your walk from the Kremur Street boat ramp:
Artist: Tamara Murray. Tamara is a Barkandji on her mother’s side and Yorta Yorta on her Dad’s side.
For Tamara, the Reconciliation Shield represents bringing everyone together – to work together, walk together and live together; to make everything better, especially for the next generation. ‘The figure depicted is holding his hands in a position of submission. Enough is enough – we all need to walk together on this journey of reconciliation.’
Artists: James Fallon High School. The standing goanna by Liam Campbell (Wiradjuri), the turtle by Sara Jackson Edwards (Wamba Wamba), the snake by Raymond Jackson Edwards (Wamba Wamba), and the climbing goanna by Jaidyon Hampton (Malyangaba).
Under the mentorship from the Aboriginal Men’s Shed and the local community, the students sculpted these creatures. In doing so, the students created a space where stories can be told, and local animal life can be celebrated.
Artist: Darren Wighton. Darren is a community leader of Wiradjuri descent.
‘Googar’ is the Wiradjuri word for ‘goanna’. At 4 metres in length, Darren’s Googar sculpture is a larger-than-life version of a small wooden toy goanna that Wiradjuri children would play with and learn from in traditional times.
Artist: Leonie McIntosh. Leonie is a proud Wiradjuri woman.
Leonie’s Wiradjuri Woman sculpture is based on the Possum Skin Cloak design burnt on her Nan’s cloak which she wore for the opening ceremony of the Melbourne Commonwealth Games in 2006.
Leonie has created a sculpture of Wiradjuri Woman emerging out of this 350 – 400-year-old tree stump – ‘as if a spirit is breaking free’.
Vertical Message Sticks
Artist: Carmel Taylor. Carmel is a Wiradjuri woman.
The message sticks are a celebration of Carmel’s knowledge of the natural history of the river.
Carmel tells us she chose the theme of animals because she genuinely loves them, and they are native to the Albury area; bringing much joy to children and adults.
Bogong Moth Migration
Artist: Ruth Davys. Ruth is a proud Wiradjuri woman.
The Bogong Moth is a creature of cultural significance for Indigenous Australians.
Traditionally, each year the Indigenous people of southern New South Wales and northern Victoria would meet at Mungabareena Reserve (Albury) to perform ceremonies, exchange goods and discuss tribal lore. They would then travel to the high country (Victoria’s Alpine region) to feast on Bogong Moths.
‘Maya’ Fish Trap
Artists: Uncle Ken (Tunny) Murray, Darren Wighton and Andom Rendell, from the Aboriginal Men’s Shed.
This over-proportioned sculpture is of a funnel style fish trap that was commonly used by the Wiradjuri people in the Albury area. These traps were woven from reeds and could even be customised to trap specific fish as well as allowing smaller fish to escape, thus protecting the species for the future.
Artist: Kianna Edwards. Kianna is a young Wiradjuri woman from Albury.
Kianna comments, “This Goanna represents one of the main totems for the Wiradjuri Nation. It holds a significant place in my spirit. It’s my totem. My story. My culture.”
The Bigger Picture
Artist: Katrina Weston. Katrina is an Aboriginal person from the Barkindji/Nyampa tribes.
According to Katrina, the purpose of the oversized picture frame is so we can see over the years to come how the landscape changes within the frame.
The picture within the frame is a moving, living landscape with many stories to be told and shared. It will bring people together to share traditional stories. The picture frame represents movement and change for Aboriginal people who are evolving to adapt to the ever-changing environment.
Signalling the commencement of the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk is, Teaming Life of Milawa Billa (Murray River) created by the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk Steering Committee – Daniel Cledd, Robyn Heckenberg, John Murray, Aunty Edna Stewart, and Aunty Muriel Williams.
This artwork is located at the Kremur Street boat ramp picnic area. The design draws together significant elements from the natural environment of the Murray River – the birds, the fish, the reeds, and the yabby – telling the story of the health of the river.
At Kremur Street boat ramp you will find free parking, public toilets, and picnic area.
Horseshoe Lagoon has parking off the Riverina Highway but has no toilets or picnic facilities. From the parking area, it is a couple of minutes’ walk to join the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk trail.
Albury is a large inland city in New South Wales on the banks of the Murray River – Australia’s longest river. It is 553 kilometres south-west of Sydney via the Hume Highway and 326 kilometres north-east of Melbourne.
There are plans underfoot by Albury City Council to add another loop to the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk. The new loop, expected to be completed in July 2021, will start at the Vertical Message Sticks, with the current dirt track to be sealed, and will include the installation of 3 new sculptures.
Lessons learned from having walked the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk previously:
The first time I walked the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk was with my sister. We commenced our walk at Noreuil Park and walked to Wonga Wetlands. As the car was at Noreuil Park, we had no alternative but to walk back the way we had come. This walk was a 14-kilometre round trip. By the time we were halfway back on our return journey, we could barely lift our feet and couldn’t talk to each other.
My second attempt at the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk was with my daughter. We left the car at Noreuil Park (I must be a slow learner) and headed out on the walk. About a kilometre from Wonga Wetlands (6 kilometres walked), my daughter could see I was flagging. So, you can imagine, I jumped at her suggestion to sit in the shade of a tree while she jogged back for the car. Oh, to be young and fit!
My third walk along the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk was with two friends. I insisted we have a car at either end of the walk as I have now (finally) learned my walking limitations. Not knowing the signage showing the locations of the sculptures was out-of-date, we left a car at Kremur Street Boat Ramp and drove to Wonga Wetlands where we left the second car and commenced our walk.
So, what have I learned? Walk between Horseshoe Lagoon and Kremur Street Boat Ramp (or vice versa), with a car at either end, while detouring slightly to The Bigger Picture sculpture. Don’t forget to take water.
What my friends had to say about the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk:
For those bird lovers out there, one of my friends recommends taking binoculars as there are several species of birds to spot along the walk.
Both friends thoroughly enjoyed the walk (described as a ‘leisurely stroll’ by one), and they commented on the number of birds, wildlife and plants seen along the way. As one friend said, seating along the walk would have been good – to absorb a sculpture, to sit and watch the river flow past, and to contemplate the landscape.
I have walked the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk three time now and have not tired of seeing the sculptures. My friends felt the sculptures showcased the artistic abilities of the local men and women of the surrounding indigenous tribes while telling their own unique stories.
I, my two friends, my daughter and my sister, recommend the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk. With the sculptures, the river and the surrounding bush, it is an exceptional walk.
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Still on an art theme in Australia, check out the posts below I wrote on the unique silo art in Victoria; they’re packed with amazing photos, information, and tips:
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