Until the arrival of European settlers, in the early 1800s, the Ngunnawal Aboriginal people were the only inhabitants of the Limestone Plains, which subsequently became Canberra.

The main water source at that time was the Monolgo River, little more than a small stream (dammed in the 1960s to create Lake Burley Griffin). The Monolgo, referred to as the snake or Guddy, was of great importance to, and revered by, the Ngunnawal, both as a source of food and an avenue for trade. During the summer Bogon Moth feast the Ngunnawal and neighbouring Aboriginal peoples would gather by the river for trade, gift-giving and social frivolity.

Away from the river were the mountains and hills, the most important of which was Black Mountain. In times past, this wooded mountain provided an ample meat supply in terms of possums, wallaby and kangaroo to supplement fish obtained from the river. In addition, it was an important meeting place and people would travel long distances gathering here for trade, ceremony, marriages, other social events as well as to settle differences.

This piece of artwork, entitled ‘Reclamation – culture, spirit and place’ was created in 2007 by Sandra Hill ((Nyoongar people, West Australia) and Jim Williams (Ngunnawal).

Through four decorative metal interpretive panels and a colourful ceramic tile mosaic on the pavement the artwork visually brings the association between the Ngunnawal people and their environment to life, in Garema Place, right in the heart of the city.

More than relaying how the Ngunnawal people interacted with nature, in the words of Sandra Hill, the work ‘celebrates the survival of the spirit, and the courage and the dignity shown by the Ngunnawal people as they move forward into the future’.

While to-days visitor will not realise it, another very welcoming thing about this artwork is that the interpretive panels cover-up two formerly grubby and unwelcoming poster silos which had become something of an eyesore in the city centre.


Corner of City Walk and Garema Place, Civic

For my next CANBERRA – INNER NORTH review click HERE.
For other Canberra reviews click HERE.


3 thoughts on “Reclamation – Culture, Spirit and Place

  1. I really like that, and it has meaning (referring to your comments on modern art in the last post). I have at least skimmed all your latest Canberra posts (I can’t keep up!) and am forming the opinion that it’s a pleasant place but, if we ever come back to Australia, I probably won’t be making a special effort to see it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As you may/ may not be aware all my posts (except one!) to date on this blog have been the transfer (with some updates) of former posts from VirtualTourist, a now defunct travel site. I had hoped to get this finished prior to this year end and get into writing new content which I am itching to do.
      I am running a bit late on this task but when I get that done you will notice a major slowdown in postings. Don’t worry about keeping up … I truly appreciate any visits 🙂

      In regards to Canberra it is indeed a pleasant place but one that you would certainly not plan a trip from the UK around. For those with time I generally recommend it as a 2-3 day stop for those driving from Sydney to Melbourne. The majority of visitors here are Australians including ‘gray nomads’ – retirees who buy a caravan and travel around Australia for a year plus at a time. For others its a second / third trip location unless you have months at your disposal.

      Also a lot of inclusions on Canberra (and indeed Sydney and Adelaide) are geared towards locals ………. who don’t read my blog anyway lol !

      Then of course there are armchair travellers 🙂


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