Walking on Country

10 September 2021 | Posted In: News

Described as a “transformative experience for locals and visitors alike”, a harbourside walk will soon enable people to take a unique journey on Gadigal Country from Pirrama (Pyrmont) to Woolloomooloo.

Devised by Wiradjuri curator Emily McDaniel, the 9km walk — named Yananurala (Walking on Country) — will include audio and text-based installations that highlight the historical and cultural significance of places along the harbour foreshore. The walk will also interpret new and old Aboriginal stories and perspectives through public artworks at Pirrama (Pyrmont), Barangaroo, Ta-ra (Dawes Point), Warrane (Circular Quay) and Woolloomooloo.

“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,” said McDaniel. “This is about you seeing what we see, feeling what we feel and hearing what we hear.” It is, she added, “an Acknowledgement of Country in its truest, most ancient form”.

The name ‘Yananurala’ was chosen following extensive consultation with the City of Sydney’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander advisory panel, local Aboriginal community representatives and the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council. It derives from the language of the Gadigal people and combines two words ‘yana’ (walk) and ‘nura’ (country). The ‘la’ adds an instruction: “So, you go walk Country!”. “Naming brings Country to life,” said advisory panel member, Beau James. “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.”

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. 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.

“Our plans for a 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,” said Sydney lord mayor, Clover Moore. Signs along the habourside walk will appear before Christmas and the rest of the installations will be introduced in the first quarter of next year.