From dream to reality, the story of our beautiful garden at Hamilton involved many amazing people to whom we are grateful. As a community-based setting we look for ways to connect with our local community and ensure our learning spaces are contemporary and culturally relevant. This garden allows us to do just that.
In 2019 the journey of Reconciliation began. Part of this work was envisaging a culturally respectful and empowering outdoor space, somewhere to provide opportunities for learning about Awabakal culture in authentic ways and make children aware they are caretakers of the land and our precious water resources.
Developing relationships with our local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community provides ongoing opportunities to educate all to respect the land and animals. Robert Russell and Peter Townsend, CEO and Cultural Officer of the Awabakal Local Aboriginal Lands Council respectively, shared their invaluable insights on all aspects of the garden’s development.
Departmental grants enabled partnerships with ‘Speaking in Colour’ and ‘Miromaa’ to develop our knowledge and embed Aboriginal ways of knowing and learning into daily practices. A ‘Love Water’ grant through Hunter Water established the creation of the reticulated creek bed and water tank, now beautifully illustrated with story through colour, designed by local Aboriginal Artist Jasmine Craciun and her collaboration with the children.
The garden was designed by Sue Anne Warne and Shellie Smith of Out(fit) at Newcastle University, and Scott Eaglesham of Northern Excavations and Landscaping made these designs come to life. Bush Tucker Gardens, a Yarning circle and fire pit, native Australian plants and ironbark sleepers along with a Timber Creations White Cypress climbing frame provide wonderful spaces to explore and learn through all senses.
An amazing, dedicated fundraising team, the families and children of our centre, and the local community of Hamilton made this garden a reality. The incredible partnerships created with local Aboriginal Elders and businesses will ensure children now and into the future can share their understandings gathered during their time as learners in our very special garden.