Huon Valley News

Celebrating our Elders at the official opening of Black Swan Park

Black Swan Park is officially open for the Huon Valley community to enjoy.

Following an extensive works program, the Park – next to the Hub on Main Street Huonville – was opened by local Elder Rodney Dillon and Mayor Sally Doyle on Saturday 12 August 2023.

The opening coincided with the closing of this year’s NAIDOC exhibition and the celebration of our Aboriginal Elders and knowledge holders.

Despite some passing winter showers, the event attracted a strong community turnout to hear from Uncle Rodney, Mayor Doyle, mural artist Jamin and multidisciplinary artist Alex Moss – whose work ‘parrabah – listening, learning and reflecting for our Elders’ was showcased in the Hub.

Sharing a visible, living history

Uncle Rodney told those assembled that the black swans of the mural symbolised the area’s Aboriginal history.

“When you drive past our history on the wall… it’s a privilege for our people. Bringing people together to share 50 thousand years of culture, just being able to share,” he said.

“We know out along this gully here on the hunting flats out there where our people lived, we know of the sites around the river here of our people… it gives me great strength to see councils wanting to work with us and to see all the people who have done the work for the whale story and the swans.”

“The council workers who have worked on it as well – without you we wouldn’t have this.”

Uncle Rodney said it was important to many people to see their history “visible”.

“It’s who we are – and we feel like we’re a part of this community, to have events like this,” he said.

“This makes us as aboriginal people to be very much part of this community and I thank the council for doing that.”

“Without this, our history stays where it was. I want our history to be alive and for us to be able to carry that history strong and proud. And making that history relevant today… it’s living. There’s our history there on that wall.”

Jamin said the opportunity to paint the mural was a “great honour.”

He said the horizon line through the painting represented the distance and the present, and the sea and sky.

“To be able to bring that story to life in such a big way on such a public wall in Huonville, is a really proud thing for me to be involved in,” Jamin said.

A collective vision

As well as Jamin’s beautiful mural, features of the park include new seating, fresh turf and a water fountain.

Mayor Doyle thanked those who had contributed to the project.

“Our meeting place today is significant, as we also officially open the new green space – the Black Swan Park,” she said.

“Many people across the Council have supported this project, which began as a conversation with community during COVID recovery. This includes Economic Development, Infrastructure, Parks and Reserves and Community Wellbeing teams.”

Mayor Doyle also thanked the project’s external supporters, including the Tasmanian Community Fund, Community Bank Huon Valley, Hydro Tasmania, TasWater and Neville-Smith Forest Productions.

The opening day also included a photographic ARTBOX installation and kelp basket-making activities in the Hub.

📸: Kelly Davis