One of the first public artworks proposed for installation next year is bara, a tribute to Eora fisherwomen by artist Judy Watson.
The stone sculpture, commissioned by council last year, represent traditional fish hooks fashioned by Gadigal women and acknowledge an Aboriginal encampment at Bennelong Point (Dubbagullee) boatsheds during the 1800s.
At Hungry Mile, near Barangaroo, connections between Aboriginal wharf workers, unions and Indigenous activism are to be honoured with public artwork funded in partnership with Lendlease.
Not only was it a chance for visitors to not only learn about the stories of Aboriginal people but physically and emotionally engage with the Indigenous experience of Country, McDaniel says. Sitelines would draw visitors’ attention to the connections between Barangaroo and Goat Island (Me-Mel), Mrs Macquarie’s Point (Yurong) and Garden Island (Bayinguwa).
“This is about you seeing what we see. You feeling and hearing what we hear,” McDaniel said. “It’s important to feel a place, not just visit a place. We think of Country and water that is living and breathing; you have to take time to get to know it.”
Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the foreshore walk was part of council’s longstanding commitment to give greater prominence to Indigenous history and culture. ”Our new harbour walk will be a poignant and powerful addition to the coastline, embedding First Nations stories in the heart of the public domain.”
McDaniel hopes the walk will popularise Indigenous harbour place names while also establishing a unique collaboration between artist and universities and marine institutes to show the harbour’s abundant sea life, possibly installing a hydrophone to hear sounds from the seafloor. Were it McDaniel’s choice, there would be more entry points to the shoreline.
“We’ve become detached from the harbour and our relationship has suffered,” she says. ”We want people to dip their feet to remind them they are standing on the edge of this sunken valley, many thousands of years old.”
The harbour walk is one of seven public art projects recommended to council by fellow Indigenous curator Hetti Perkins as part of the Eora Journey program. The City of Sydney and Property NSW signed a memorandum of understanding for its development in 2017.
Sydney City Council has initially allocated approximately $2 million to Harbour Walk public art projects to be supported by private partners with new economic opportunities created for Aboriginal-owned tour operators and businesses, and new spaces for cultural tours and performances.
Once approved, the City of Sydney will work with Indigenous representatives, the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council and state government agencies to determine an Aboriginal name and begin the rollout of art projects.
Linda Morris is an arts and books writer at The Sydney Morning Herald