New mural at Hazelhurst Arts Centre depicts Aboriginal culture

A new mural painted by Aboriginal students has been unveiled at Hazelhurst Arts Centre, Gymea.

Burri Burri Dhan Dreaming is the latest in a series of murals to be painted in Sutherland Shire as part of the Strong Sister program at Endeavour Sports High School, Caringbah.

The program has been running for about a decade and aims to instil a sense of pride amongst female Aboriginal students about their culture.

About 16 girls currently take part in the program and are encouraged to embrace and gain knowledge about their culture.

In order to develop their knowledge, they go 'on country' to view engravings and drawings, which are then used in the murals.

The murals, which are found at more than 20 locations throughout Sutherland Shire, including ANSTO at Lucas Heights; Hungry Point, Cronulla; North Sutherland Public School and Endeavour Sports High, raise awareness of local art and culture amongst the community.

The latest mural was painted in Hazelhurst's foyer and marks the entry to a new exhibition, Wuliwulawala: Dharawal Women Sharing Stories.

It was painted over two days by Matilda Delfs, Sarah Etheridge, Marley Monie, Skye Wackwitz, and sisters Alecia, Reneigh and Tamara Scott.

The mural features two representations of whales, which are very important in local Dharawal culture because they bring the Lore to the Dharawal people.

It depicts some of the marine life that were fished by women in the local waterways. Fishing was one of the key roles of Dharawal women and enabled them to provide food for their families.

The whales are based on engravings on sandstone and drawings in shelters located within 10 kilometres of Hazelhurst, including Burraneer Point.

A stingray is based on an engraving at Jibbon beach, while the three salmon located under the whale are based on engravings near Darook Park. Fish depict engravings at Bundeena and within the Royal National Park, while the dolphin is modelled on an engraving near South West Arm. The garfish and eel come from drawings found in shelters at Woronora and Alfords Point.

One of the program's co-ordinators Rick O'Brien said the seven girls who completed the mural ranged from years 7 to 12.

"This mural is based on authentic Dharawal art from several sites around the local area. It's not made up," he said.

"It teaches them painting skills but it also gives them a sense of belonging and culture, and empowers them.

"They are really contributing to their culture and doing something positive. They get a sense of ownership and cultural awareness of where they live.

"The murals also raise awareness amongst non-Aboriginal people. It's putting it in front of people who would never get to see it."