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Artworks on way as first stretch opens for FAST project


Mayor Kay Fraser at the completed southern end of the new FAST shared pathway

A major artwork recognising Belmont Lagoon’s significance as a campsite for the Awabakal people is set to be a striking feature of the upcoming Fernleigh Awabakal Shared Track.

 

Lake Macquarie City Council has commissioned local Aboriginal artists Shellie Smith and Daniella Chedzey, along with fellow artist Julie Squires, to create the work, which will include sculptural interpretations of a ‘gunya’ shelter, a bark canoe and other features of a traditional Aboriginal camp.


With this year’s NAIDOC Week underway, Lake Macquarie Mayor Kay Fraser said the installation was designed to be interactive and engaging for passers-by, passing on Awabakal knowledge and culture.


“This will be a meaningful acknowledgement of the traditions and daily lives of the Awabakal people, who called this area home for thousands of years before European settlement,” she said.

“Commissioning of this work is another step towards this significant active transport project, linking the end of the Fernleigh Track and Belmont to Blacksmiths.”


Manager City Projects Adam Wakeman said the FAST southern section, stretching from Hilda Street to Awabakal Avenue, was on track to be finished next month.


The southernmost 1.3km, from Awabakal Avenue to Marks Point Road, is now open for use, with drainage and other works along the rest of the section still underway.


A location for the major installation artwork is yet to be finalised, but Council’s Manager Arts, Culture and Tourism Jacqui Hemsley said it would be in a prominent spot, close to Belmont Lagoon.


Associated works will feature in infrastructure along the FAST route.


“One of the key elements of this commission is community engagement,” she said.


“Participants at public workshops held earlier this month helped weave animal sculptures that will be cast in aluminium and incorporated into the raised walkway overlooking Belmont Lagoon.


The FAST project is funded by the NSW Government through a $7.48 million grant from the Restart NSW Regional Growth - Environment and Tourism Fund.


Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole said the $300 million fund supported local tourism, focusing on iconic tourism activation, nature-based projects, Indigenous cultural tourism and tourism in Far West NSW.


“The Regional Growth - Environment and Tourism Fund has funded over 60 projects across regional NSW, and the Fernleigh Awabakal Shared Track is a great example of what this fund is designed to deliver,” he said.

“The artwork installation along the track will serve not only as a striking feature, but as a reminder to locals and tourists alike that the area played and continues to play a significant role in the history of Indigenous Australians.”


Go to lakemac.com.au for more information about the FAST project.

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