Sydney: New Sculpture Celebrates Indigenous Heritage


Australia’s biggest city will celebrate its rich Indigenous history with an imposing 6.3 metre-high marble monument in the shadows of the Sydney Opera House.

Sydney is perhaps best known for its Harbour Bridge and its Opera House. But a new public sculpture in the shape of a hook could soon gain notoriety as one of the city’s most popular landmarks.

The Monument of the Eora, a new permanent artwork to celebrate the indigenous First Peoples of Sydney, will take pride of place on the scenic Tarpeian Lawn at the Royal Botanic Gardens, overlooking Bennelong Point.

It will be one of the first major public artworks in Australia’s biggest city that celebrates the Eora, the Aboriginal peoples of Sydney, and recognises the Gadigal clan as the traditional custodians of the land.

The artwork, which has been in planning for more than a decade, was designed by renowned Brisbane-based indigenous artist Judy Watson.

The sculpture was supposed to be in place about now, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, installation has been delayed.


L-R: NSW Governor David Hurley, artist Judy Watson, Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore and co-chair of the City of Sydney’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Panel, Tracey Duncan.

The marble sculpture in the shape of a ‘bara’ – or shell hook – will be 6.3 metres high and 5.6 metres wide.

It imitates the crescent-shaped hooks, called burra or bara, that were used by local Gadigal women to catch fish for thousands of years.

They did not use bait but spat chewed shellfish on the surface of the water to attract fish. The pearly reflection of the hooks also acted as a lure.

It proves Australia’s First Peoples were sophisticated fishers, using tools to catch food, rather than their hands.


Fish hook artefacts


The new sculpture is designed to reflect the shape of the moon, the coves of Sydney Harbour, the sails of the Sydney Opera House and the arch of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

The monument is part of the City of Sydney’s Eora Journey program which includes commissioning public artworks, developing an Aboriginal cultural centre, staging major events and economic development.


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