Wurundjeri seasonal garden opens at Eltham North playground

The Eltham North Adventure Playground has a new space for the community to gather and learn about the culture of the Wurundjeri people following the official opening of the seasonal garden “Djilak Djirri”.

The project has been more than five years in the making and this week’s opening celebrations included a Welcome to Country and smoking ceremony by Uncle Colin Hunter Jr, and performances by the Djirri Djirri Wurundjeri women’s dance group and digeridoo player John Terrick.

Djilak Djirri means play together in Woi wurrung, the language of the Wurundjeri people.

Led by the Eltham North Adventure Playground Community Reference Group and the Nillumbik Reconciliation Group, the project was funded by the Victorian Government’s Pick My Project initiative. Council provided support in the project delivery.

The new space features an indigenous seasonal garden, created by Indigenous Design and the Wurundjeri Corporation’s Narrap Team.

A Welcome Walk leads to a gathering space featuring an intricate mosaic mural. The walk is lined with pottery tiles made by local school students with artist Mary Lou Pittard. The tiles are decorated with drawings of wildlife including barrawarn (magpie), marram (kangaroo), walert (possum), gurrng gurrng (kookaburra) and ngarrert (frog). The mosaic mural, which symbolises time since creation, was created by artist Tom Civil (AKA Civil) in consultation with Wurundjeri Elder Aunty Judy Nicholson and commissioned by mosaic artists Enver Camdal and Hacer Koca.

Dotted around the playground, pages of the book Welcome to Country by Aunty Joy Murphy and illustrated by Lisa Kennedy, are brought to life through interpretive signage by James Ferguson. Further signage in the garden created in consultation with the late Aunty Judy Nicholson explains the Wurundjeri seasons.

Mayor Ben Ramcharan said the garden was the final piece in the rebuilding of the much-loved playground after it was destroyed by fire in 2017.

“It’s a place where children and adults alike can gather and learn about the Wurundjeri people, their culture, the seasons and caring for Country,” Cr Ramcharan said.

“Congratulations to the members of the Eltham North Adventure Playground Community Reference Group, and everyone involved for their work over many years to make this project a reality. It’s really brought everyone together.

“Council is honoured to have been able to assist in the delivery of this project and thanks Eltham MP Vicki Ward and the Victorian Government for the funding through the Pick My Project initiative. We are committed to reconciliation with First Nations people and this is just one way we can support that journey.”