On Saturday 10 November, three years of dreaming, talking, designing, planning, digging, planting, and creating culminated in a community celebration in the forest. Over 140 people visited the two new sculptures to celebrate community, art, history and the power of story-telling.

Mayapa Weeyn (‘Make Fire’)

(Right) Pronunciation: MAYA – pah – WEE-YUN.

Design and construction: Walter Saunders. Construction assistance: Jason Scott & Andrew Walsh. Stainless steel and basalt. Photo: Damian Goodman.

The sculpture pays tribute to the Cart Gunditj and all fifty-nine clans of the Dhauwurd Wurrung. The design recalls the signal fires the Cart Gunditj lit to signal to other clans when whales beached. When non-Aboriginal whalers arrived, the fires were lit to signal a whale in the bay.

Mayapa Weeyn at dawn. Photo by Damian Goodman.
Koontabpul Thirng Wuul ('Whale Sun Shadow). Photo by Damian Goodman.

Koontabpul Thirng Wuul (‘Whale Sun Shadow’)

(Left) Pronunciation: KOON-TAB-pul – THIR-NG – wu-ul. Design and construction: Glenn Romanis & Mark Trinham. Construction assistance: Brodie Hill. Basalt, steel, sandstone. Photo: Damian Goodman.

Nestled beside the Surry River, Koontabpul Thirng Wuul includes a human sundial and four sculpted stone seats. The seats that surround the sundial are based on Greystone, an unusual pale grey Southern Right Whale. The paving includes a map of the Portland Bay coast, with markers for the two sculptures.

Community Art at the Launch

Down by the Surry River, Koontabpul Thirng Wuul was decorated with festive turquoise banners. A trail of small turquoise flags led like a bread-crumb trail from the Surry River, all the way up Boyers Road to the Sawpit Picnic area, then tantalisingly into the forest.

As you walked down the forest track, the sticks transformed into clusters of coloured stick wraps created by our tireless volunteers and local kids. There was a new discovery at every turn, until you met the magical curtains.

The eco-dyed silk floated and twisted on the breeze, enticing children and big kids to play for a while before they finally met Mayapa Weeyn for the first time.

Eco-dyed curtains overhung the path on the way to the Whalers Lookout. Photo: Damian Goodman.

Opening Ceremony

The sleepy Sawpit Picnic area was transformed into a small festival site with marquee for the afternoon. The fifty-nine kids from Narrawong District Primary School created flags for each of the fifty-nine clans of the Dhauwurd Wurrung language group. A large photograph of members of the Dhauwurd Wurrung language group hung behind the stage.

The Winda Mara dancers welcomed everyone to the celebration, together with Master of Ceremonies, Andy Govanstone.

After months of intense work, lead artist Walter Saunders spoke about the growth of the project from the seed of an idea to the final artwork at the Whalers Lookout.

Today is a chance for understanding, but more importantly it’s about knowledge and appreciation, particularly for the Cart Gunditj who are no longer with us.

                                 Walter Saunders

Joel Wright, from Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages, explained the meaning of the Dhauwurd Wurrung and Peek Wurrung languages words which were chosen for the project and the individual sculptures.

Representing the project administrator Nature Glenelg Trust, Lachlan Farrington thanked all those who had helped including representatives of Regional Arts Victoria who had travelled from Melbourne for the event, and the Narrawong community for getting behind the project.

The original song ‘Cart Gunditj’ was composed for the project by Andy Alberts and Wal Saunders. This song, together with the two permanent artworks, and Powerhouse Productions’ film of the project (soon to be released for all to see!) will be legacies of the project.  The event finished up with grooving tunes from south-west band Modus Vivendi. Thanks everyone who contributed with their work and energy to creating and celebrating the project.

What’s next?

  • The sculptures are here to stay; please enjoy them and share with your friends and family.
  • In the next few months there will be signage and some flyers and other information shared around the local area. The website information will be migrated to www.natureglenelg.org.au.
  • Powerhouse are working on a short film.
  • And art … make some art!
  • Reporting! We have to fill in lots of forms and spreadsheets for Regional Arts Victoria.
  • Feedback – we would love to hear from you. Please email us, fill out a form at the post office, complete our short online survey (go to bit.ly/kangomeerteek), or post on Facebook .


This project has been made possible by the hard work, dedication and persistence of countless individuals and groups over the past three years.


For a full list of acknowledgements, please download our newsletter about the launch.

Koontabpul Thirng Wuul at dawn. Photo by Damian Goodman.
The Sawpit Picnic Area on launch day. Photo: Damian Goodman.
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