A SPIRIT believed in Aboriginal culture to protect children is casting its presence over the redeveloped Scarborough foreshore.
Noongar elder Neville Collard told acclaimed artist Richard Walley, also a Noongar man, a tale inspired by spirit woman Tjunta and the latter created a beautiful artwork representing the story.
This has been separated into sections and etched on the footpath along the esplanade by artist Jahne Rees to create the Tjunta Trail.
Mr Collard said the story was about looking after children and involved strong collaboration between him and Dr Walley.
“I didn’t have an ending, I knew what the ending was but I didn’t know how to depict it,” he said.
“Richard said, ‘Like this huh?’ and he drew the emu… so I had the ending to my story and we had the ending to the painting.”
Dr Walley relished the chance to bring an Noongar story to life at Scarborough.
“I firmly believe for any culture to survive, it has to evolve and it has to engage,” he said.
“Even though we’re telling the story now, it’s everyone’s story.
“We believe that the local people should own this story so if they’re bringing visitors down, whether they’re Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal, they should be able to interpret that story and have ownership of it and that keeps it alive and passes it on.
“The origins may be Noongar but the living essence of it becomes everybody’s story.”
The trail consists of six pieces, starting at the southern end of the foreshore and ending next to the clocktower.
It follows the story of lost children, the community looking for them and their eventual discovery with Tjunta, who is looking after them among the stars.
“People take for granted and they don’t realise the wisdom of our cultures,” Dr Walley said.
“What we’re doing is taking our Dreaming stories, the lessons and parables in those Dreaming stories, and putting them into literal translations and modern, thinking people can actually comprehend what it’s about and then they’ll also appreciate the wisdom of ancient Aboriginal culture.”
The Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority’s Aboriginal engagement framework Kaart Koort Waarnginy (head, heart, talking) was a key focus during the Scarborough redevelopment.
The framework was created with Dr Walley and means the MRA works with traditional owners through all development stages.
The Tjunta Trail is one of several public artworks at Scarborough depicting indigenous cultural stories, along with the whale playground, shade sails on the arbour canopies and the Ethereal Welcome Hand sculpture.