At its core, RidgeWalk is about stories. Stories that explore humans’ connection to land and how this connection has played out within the Dandenong Ranges over millennia. These stories will be told by many voices and through multiple channels across a 39km walking track.
There are numerous iconic Australian art works that feature the Dandenong Ranges, including William Barak’s “Ceremony”, Eugene von Guerard’s “Ferntree Gully in the Dandenong Ranges” paintings, landscape paintings by Heidelberg School artists such as Tom Roberts and Arthur Streeton, modernist landscape paintings by Fred Williams, who lived in Upwey, and the art of Yorta Yorta artist Lin Onus who drew on the rainforest around his home in Belgrave as inspiration for his art.
Two cultural studies, commissioned by Yarra Ranges Council, provide the thematic foundation for the project. The reports were produced in collaboration with Traditional Owners and local history groups. Studies examining opportunities around transportation and economic impact were produced, along with a Cultural Heritage Management Plan and Curatorial Framework.
Ridgewalk: A History of Culture, Artists and Creativity in the Dandenong Ranges
In 2017, Yarra Ranges Council commissioned, Ridgewalk A History of Culture, Artists and Creativity in the Dandenong Ranges. The report was developed by Bronwyn Hannah History and Heritage in collaboration with local history groups.
- Three brief historical accounts of the Dandenong Ranges — natural history, Aboriginal history and colonial/postcolonial history
- A stand-alone illustrated catalogue with 30 entries on the life and work of locally distinguished individuals and five accounts of local creative households
Aboriginal Cultural Values Assessment Report
In 2019, Yarra Ranges Council worked with the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation, Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation, Boon Wurrung Foundation and Extent Heritage to create an Aboriginal cultural values report. The report provides a greater understanding of Aboriginal culture and history in the Dandenong Ranges.
Key themes from the report:
- Contributions of significant past Elders who have been active in the Dandenong Ranges
- Importance of the mountain environment in the provision of food (kangaroo, eels, fern hearts) and commodities (lyrebird tails)
- Association of the mountains and ridges with the flow of water, travel and movement
- The tourist trade of the mid-20th century attracting Aboriginal entrepreneurs such as Bill Onus and drawing the nation’s attention to Aboriginal arts and crafts
- Presence of extensive forested crown lands provided a setting for the occupation and reclamation of land by the Bunurong Land Rights Claim in the 20th century
Between 2017-2019, more than 1200 community members participated in drop-in sessions, online forums, workshops, and guided walks. Additionally, project staff worked with Yarra Ranges Council’s Disability Advisory Committee, Indigenous Advisory Committee and attended local environmental, business and heritage network meetings.
As ngurrak barring progresses, community groups, residents and the public will be invited to give feedback in a variety of ways on many projects. Council, including the ngurrak barring team regularly hold in person pop-ups in towns across the Dandenong Ranges and have stalls at community events. Regularly updates, opportunities to be involved, to have your say or to join our mailing list can be found online here. A quarterly digital report is distributed to the ngurrak barring mailing list. An annual paper update report is also distributed to all the residents who live in the Dandenong Ranges. ngurrak barring social media posts also feature regularly on Council’s social media channels.
Parks Victoria (PV) and Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMV) are key stakeholders and partners. Council consults with PV and FFMV ongoingly to ensure all fire safety standards are met and asset maintenance is planned and implemented appropriately.
In March 2023, as the ngurrak barring | RidgeWalk project progressed the RWCAP transitioned from a strategic focus to a delivery focus and so a Public Art Working Group was formed. Members of the RWCAP became members of the Public Art Working Group and were joined by expert Council staff from the Design and Place and Creative Communities teams. Now the Public Art Working Group provides high quality creative advice for the development of art and creative projects for ngurrak barring | RidgeWalk. The group draws on experts from relevant Council departments and from external organisations, groups and individuals.
ngurrak barring | RidgeWalk is guided by and regularly consults with the Wurundjeri Woi wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation, a subgroup, the Wurundjeri Indigenous Project Advisory Network, and an Indigenous Project Advisory Network made up of Indigenous people living locally.
ngurrak barring draws upon principles and best practice approaches outlined in the Australian Indigenous Design Charter: Communication Design (AIDC:CD). The AIDC:CD aims to help facilitate accurate and respectful representation of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture in design and associated media.
All content referencing Indigenous people or culture included as part of ngurrak barring | RidgeWalk is guided by these groups and by the Australian Indigenous Design Charter.