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Rail trail artworks officially opened at Trawool Estate

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Max Davies
Max Davies
Max is a journalist for the North Central Review. He joined the paper as a cadet journalist in 2021 and graduated from La Trobe University in 2023. He takes a keen interest in motorsport and the automotive industry.

By Max Davies

THE Art on the Great Victorian Rail Trail Project was officially opened on Friday at Trawool Estate ahead of a major tourism campaign planned for spring.

Several large-scale artworks and a series of smaller works have been installed along the 134-kilometre trail in a joint initiative between the Mitchell, Murrindindi and Mansfield shire councils, aimed at improving the rail trail experience with innovative and instantly recognisable art.

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Yu-Fang Chi’s ‘Traces’ sculpture features prominently on the trail, exploring the forms of native plants and their impact on the land. The sculpture is located a few hundred metres from the Trawool Estate. ​

The works all serve to reflect the natural environment or cultural history of the area in some way, with a range of different styles employed by seven artists.

Mitchell Shire Mayor Fiona Stevens said the art along the trail would give people another reason to come and explore the region.

“It’s been interesting to see the artworks come to life and to witness the artists’ interpretation and how their works were inspired by the wonderful surrounds. It will now also be interesting to hear how visitors interpret these works,” she said.

“This has been a great partnership between the three councils with funding support from the Victorian Government.”

Among the artists was Taungurung elder Uncle Mick Harding, who worked to create a series of 20 scar trees in various locations along the trail.

Uncle Harding and his sons created the artwork by removing the bark from eucalyptus trees and carving symbols into them to articulate the story of their relationship with ancestors and the country.

Taungurung artist Uncle Mick Harding talks with Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes about his scar tree artwork. Pictured is ‘Inanimate Objects’, one of 20 scarred trees along the Great Victorian Rail Trail. ​

The work draws on traditional tree scarring practiced by many First Nations peoples from across south-east Australia.

“We’ve got the longest living connection in Australia and if not the world culturally, and I was fortunate enough to win one of the grants to be able to [create the art], which was really just continuing cultural practice,” Mr Harding said.

“It’s something that I think is really important in the landscape to demonstrate to everybody that we’re still here and think about how we might share who we are with everyone else.

“It’s really about weaving our old stories together with whatever’s happening today. Even during the point of contact and beyond there are lots of bad stories to tell, but there’s good stories to tell as well and I think it’s important to tell all of those.”

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