28 May 2024

Awards keep coming for Shellharbour's innovative Aboriginal play space Yirran muru

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kids at play space

The award-winning Aboriginal interpretative play space Yirran muru. Photo: Shellharbour City Council.

Shellharbour’s popular Aboriginal play space, Yirran muru, has only been open for a year but already has received four prestigious awards.

The latest wins were at the recent National Trust Heritage Awards 2024 in the Education and Interpretation category, as well as a Highly Commended in the Aboriginal Heritage Category.

The awards recognise outstanding practice in the field of heritage and excellence in the conservation, protection and interpretation of Aboriginal built, natural and cultural heritage.

Last month, the play area received the Diversity and Inclusion Award at the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia Excellence Awards, and took silver at the 2023 Landscape Excellence Awards.

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Shellharbour Mayor Chris Homer said the latest awards were another milestone for Yirran muru, securing first place in a non-Aboriginal award category and state recognition for its contribution to education and interpretation.

Located in the native gardens behind the Shellharbour Civic Centre, Yirran muru, meaning “many pathways” in Dharawal, is an Aboriginal interpretive play space that shares local Dharawal culture through Aboriginal methods of learning.

From the escarpment to the sea, Yirran muru is designed to take people on a cultural journey following the historic seasonal movements of local Aboriginal people.

The playground includes a hand-carved timber whale, a canoe across the Jubborsay (Lake Illawarra), a gunya (dwelling), a treehouse lookout, sandpit, climbing wall made out of sandstone that the escarpment is built from, and a bush tucker walk.

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Cr Homer said Yirran muru’s most recent honour recognised its cultural and educational value.

“The Aboriginal interpretive play space is an incredible addition to our city. To be recognised with four prestigious awards is absolutely wonderful,” he said.

“It is an amazing achievement and a credit to the collaboration between our local Aboriginal community and council staff.

“Yirran muru is a celebration of Dharawal culture, a unique space in which local Aboriginal culture is shared with the community through play and nature.”

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