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Byron Shire
January 23, 2022

Sandstone seats rocking Mullum

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Jenelle Stanford from Mullum’s Chamber of Commerce, with Steve Drake, who was commissioned, along with Suvira McDonald from Creative Mullum Inc, to create sandstone street furniture. Photo Jeff ‘Rockin’ ’round Mullum since 1986’ Dawson

Eight sandstone seats now adorn Mullumbimby’s CBD as part of the town’s Talking Street trial. Vehicle wheel stops and tree plantings have also been added to parking spaces in Burringbar Street.

The idea for sandstone street furniture installations was born in a conversation when Rebekah Webster was in town discussing the upcoming commission for a sculptural seat with Steve Drake and myself,’ said Suvira McDonald from Creative Mullum INC.

‘The discussion turned to the salvaged sandstone on Rebekah’s family property at Nimbin, quarry rejects from Helidon in Queensland. The ideas quickly fired up and we decided to pitch some ideas to Council planners who have been managing the Shared Streets program, a program using grant funding to trial ways of promoting the street as more people friendly while maintaining parking access.’

‘Council staff immediately warmed to the suggestion. They carefully researched suitable sites and consulted with shopkeepers who might be affected; the responses were mixed, and determined where the placements would be. It was decided that eight sites could be worked, some on the existing garden beds and some straight onto the footpath to accommodate the customers awaiting ordered food or folks just wanting a little chat with friend or two. It is all about short term sit-spots or “perches”,’ said Suvira.  

‘Stone is mostly heavily worked but in this collaboration the softened tops and raw edges were left to speak for themselves. The most beautiful objects are often so simple. It is indeed an inspired initial collaboration between a sculptor, a potter and an architect.’

Council has also trialled a new pedestrian crossing near the Commonwealth Bank, slower traffic speeds in the town centre and temporary road narrowing treatments at the Burringbar and Stuart Street intersection.

Additionally, sacred stories of local forest and coastal middens have been brought to life by Arakwal artists, Nickolla and Kaitlyn Clark. The pavement artwork is at the intersection of Burringbar and Stuart Streets.

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  1. The sandstone seats in Mullum show the talking point in Talking Street and the thinking in the town that imported rock from Nimbin was more attractive than local timber. The rock originally came from a Queensland quarry and was moved to a property in Nimbin and now they are seats in Mullumbimby.
    Does it all make sense?
    If Rebekah Webster can move things as heavy as standstone blocks to make seats, thinking back on Byron Council, maybe Rebekah Webster should be mayor of Byron Shire. Nothing that heavy moved in the last Byron Council in a town in the seat of Local Government.

    • Sue, They can be removed or left – as required. So far the response has been generally very positive; the seats are being used a great deal and where people were formerly not lingering, standing around, sitting on the curbside there are now foci for engagement and short meetings. All this is an outcome hoped for in promoting Burringbar as a ‘Talking Street’.

  2. I doubt if Rebekah is interested in becoming a politician – she is a sculptor. The project demonstrates the resourcefulness of local creatives, working through Council with recycled sandstone blocks to enhance the street scape on a very lean budget. We at Creative Mullum Inc will gladly continue to move our ideas whenever we have an opportunity. This project is a possible beginning and future expressions may well incorporate local timber.

  3. This project genuinely reflects a collaboration that worked.
    Coming from diverse backgrounds usually means there is going to be ground that will need to be worked over before beginning to build on.Rules guidelines, the just in case stuff.But this project introduced me to three local menfolk who genuinely willingly wanted to see this project happen and completed, without the usual argy bargy play.From start to finish it was illuminating,encouraging and never divided.Men and woman working together ❤ through the tough and easy jobs,lending there individual talents …Brings hope 🙂


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