Ballina considers walking track to celebrate Aboriginal culture

Ballina shire council wants to incorporate Aboriginal history and culture into signs along a coastal walking track.

Ballina shire council wants to incorporate Aboriginal history and culture into signs along a coastal walking track.

Ballina looks set to establish a dedicated walking track that gives local and visitors information about local Aboriginal culture.

The long-term goal of the project is to have interpretive materials along the full length of the walking track between Angels Beach at East Ballina and Pat Morton lookout at Lennox Head.

For now though, with $69,000 from the Office of NSW Environment and Heritage (funding which has been matched by the council), the council is ready to begin the first stage of the project

Phase one concentrates on the area between Angels Beach and Sharpes Beach, taking in Flat Rock.

A report from strategic planning staff, being considered by councillors today, said the phase one section also incorporates parts of the East Ballina Aboriginal Place, recently declared under the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974.

The Aboriginal Cultural Ways interpretation project is a partnership between the council, Registered Aboriginal Parties associated with the Coastal Pathway project, Jali Local Aboriginal Land Council and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage.

The project, now referred to as ‘The Coast Track’, commenced in August 2014 with the aim of developing interpretive materials and content recognising the local Aboriginal cultural and heritage values.

Interpretive material for The Coast Track includes a series of signage panels, a web-app accessed via a smart phone and wayfinding signage.

Staff said the participating Aboriginal stakeholders have provided cultural material determined to be appropriate for sharing with the wider community and important to pass on to younger generations.

‘This material includes reference to historical events, cultural stories based on the landscape features of the locality, cultural information, language elements, contemporary comments and culturally significant artwork,’ the report says.

‘The gathering of this material has required significant amounts of time, not only in its collation but also in the process of gaining agreement between parties for the publication of the material.

‘The artwork provided for the project by local Aboriginal artists has informed the overall design of the signage panels and has been used extensively to underpin and convey the stories and information presented on them.’

Signs will be erected along the walking track, and visitors with smart phones will be able to access further information via a web application.

‘This content will be delivered via QR code linkages on the signage to a webpage designed to function as a web-app.

Staff said the benefit of having a digital component to the interpretive material was that it would provide an opportunity for a virtual ‘keeping place’ for material that the local Aboriginal community would like to share, not only with the wider community but also as reference material for younger generations. ‘

Councillors will today decide whether to endorse the finanalisation of the project.

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