Darragh O'Brien Masthead

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Gunditjmara

Concept development for a variety of projects including an eel processing plant, a cemetery and a repatriation place for the Gunditjmara people of Western Victoria.

type

Community

Status

Ongoing from 2009

In 2009 we were invited by the Windamara Aboriginal Corporation to produce a masterplan for the re-development of the Aboriginal Cemetery at Lake Condah. We had already established a relationship with the community, while designing concepts for the BudjBim eel processing plant, but the cemetery redevelopment required an entirely different level of collaborative involvement.

Existing studies have recognised Lake Condah Mission cemetery as being of great cultural significance both locally and nationally and the entire planning process was undertaken with sensitivity and respect for that heritage.The initial brief required the plan to include a chapel, a visitor's shelter, visitor's toilets and a memorial. Ideas were generated in response to that brief that grew and changed through an extensive community consultation process.

The cemetery has been conceived as memorial parkland - a place of tangible evidence and intangible memories where the Gunditjmirring community can pause to reflect upon their past as well as their future.

Separate from the cemetery, the Repatriation Place is intended to receive the returned remains of Gunditjmara people from museum collections around the world. Layers of the story are represented by a dry stone wall and path that encourage reflection about the past and anticipation of the future. A submerged path tells the history of the complex relationship between the Gunditjmara and European newcomers; reflecting on life on the traditional lands, the Eumeralla war, the move to a Christian mission, the stolen generation & the removal of ancestral remains in the name of science. As the path emerges from the ground, the story continues into post-mission life, the peaceful fight for recognition, rebuilding culture and community and the more recent negotiations for repatriation of ancestral remains. Finally the path is elevated above the land; a space for new projects and ideas where the future is never complete.