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Byron Shire
September 21, 2021

Mullumbimby’s Gateway scrubs up nicely

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The Mullum Gateway’s new totem pole. Photo Jeff ‘Pole Dog’ Dawson.

Many locals were sad to see the totem pole at the Mullum Gateway disappear a few months ago – many were equally alarmed when the rotunda was taped off, though we thought it was a COVID-19 restriction.

Little did we know that the entire site was being updated by a team of Mullum Gateway elves who have been working on the restoration and refurbishment of the local landmark.

The Gateway Rotunda is in a new position and has new artwork within, that celebrates our local history and our First Peoples heritage.

A significant place in the community

The Gateway has always been a significant place in the community – kids get off the bus there, travellers arrived and depart from there and it has always been a place to meet up.

The hand-carved Nature and Peace poles were erected on the site in 1988 as a bicentennial project with the collaboration and support of Byron Shire Council, local artists and woodcarvers.

Sadly the old totem poles were unable to be restored having succumbed to the ravages of weather and time. However, the highlight of the renewed 2020 Gateway Project is the installation of a 15 metre high Uplift Totem. One of the tallest carvings made in Australia. It will now become the central focus of the Gateway with a pathway connecting to the Rotunda and Totem.

Incorporating symbols sacred to the Arakwal and Bundjalung people

Carved from a local Mt Jerusalem Tallowood tree by Tonu Shane, the totem incorporates symbols sacred to the local Arakwal and Bundjalung people, the goanna, the whale, the dolphin, the turtle and kabul, the carpet snake, representing the community coming together. During the 2013 Uplift Festival, the handprints of hundreds of participants were carved onto the totem, honouring our fundamental unity with each other and all of life.

The sculpture was donated to the Mullumbimby Gateway by the founders of Uplift and it has been cleaned and refined by local sculptors Greg Bowering, Paul Hinchey and Jason Morning and painted by well known indigenous artists Digby Moran, who sadly passed away in January, and Richard Clarke.

Artists Digby Moran with Richard Clarke. Photo Tree Faerie.

A co-production of local artists and volunteers

Two years in the making, the refurbishment of the Mullumbimby Gateway has been a community co-production of local artists and volunteers led by Richard Mordaunt. The site will be solar lit at night and become an even more impressive landmark for the whole community to enjoy, welcoming people to Mullumbimby.

The project is funded by the NSW Government in association with the Mullumbimby Gateway Association Inc.

Many thanks go to Essential Energy for their assistance and support. Support has also been received from the Northern Rivers Community Foundation (NRCF), NSW Community Building Partnerships, the Brunswick Valley Historical Society, The Mullumbimby Chamber of Commerce and many Mullumbimby and Byron Bay businesses which have sponsored in a range of ways.

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