‘Warri’ Artwork Celebrates Partnership

Press Release

A newly created artwork named ‘Warri’ celebrates the partnership between Barwon Coast and the Wadawurrung People to care for the coast.

Barwon Coast is the local coastal committee of management for Crown Land at Ocean Grove, Barwon Heads, 13th Beach, Connewarre and Breamlea. Barwon Coast are committed to working alongside the Wadawurrung People who are the Traditional Owners of these lands.

To celebrate and better explain the partnership, Wadawurrung man Billy-jay O’Toole has produced a stunning canvas artwork named ‘Warri’. Warri means ‘saltwater’ in Wadawurrung language.

A powerful short video produced by Ocean Grove based filmmaker Jarrod Boord of Streamline Media explains and showcases the artwork and the partnership we are undertaking with Wadawurrung. Video link: youtu.be/SxOjz8-cd5A

Warri is currently on display in the Barwon Coast Office at 7 Ewing Blyth Drive, Barwon Heads, Victoria and will eventually be displayed at the Barwon Estuary Heritage Centre on Jetty Road in Barwon Heads. The Heritage Centre is currently under refurbishment.

Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation (WTOAC) Healthy Country Project Officer, Sarah Eccles, said that the relationship with Barwon Coast is guided by Paleert Tjaara Dja – Let’s make Country good together 2020–2030 – Wadawurrung Country Plan.

“We want locals living in and people visiting Ocean Grove, Barwon Heads or Breamlea to understand they are on Wadawurrung Dja (Country). To share our cultural values and connections and how we continue to Gobata Dja –taking care of the coast. Our work with Barwon Coast over the next few years will see this strengthened.” Ms Eccles said.

Barwon Coast Committee of Management Chair, Sandra Gatehouse, said Barwon Coast is committed to meaningfully involve Wadawurrung people, the knowledge and advice they share.
“Our key strategic document, the Coastal and Marine Management Plan 2020-2025 very clearly states that we are committed to this partnership. We are now meeting regularly with the Wadawurrung People and have a number of current year projects guided by this relationship.” Ms Gatehouse said.

“The recent NAIDOC week celebration held on the Ocean Grove Spit was led by Wadawurrung People and well attended by Barwon Coast staff and locals. The Committee is so pleased and inspired by the large attendance and enthusiasm shown by all on the day” Ms Gatehouse said.

Locals and visitors to the coast will be starting to see visible signs of the partnership between WTOAC and Barwon Coast. The new ‘Kurrak’ (Sand) Playground at Ocean Grove Main Beach celebrates Wadawurrung culture. Elements of the ‘Warri’ artwork and Wadawurrung culture will also soon be seen in:

  • new sand dune signage
  • new drink fountains at Ocean Grove Main Beach
  • a new Barwon Coast website; and
  • a community consultation project to discuss putting Wadawurrung language names back on parts of the local coast.


Notes for editors:

Barwon Coast Committee of Management Inc. (Barwon Coast)

Barwon Coast Committee of Management Inc. (Barwon Coast) is appointed by the Victorian State Government to manage 19km of coastal Crown land through the Ocean Grove,  Barwon Heads and Breamlea townships, along the Bass Strait coast of the Bellarine Peninsula, Victoria, Australia. Our vision is that the natural environment of our coastline will flourish whilst meeting the needs of our engaged communities. A major local employer in Barwon Heads and Ocean Grove, we have more than 50 skilled employees from a diverse range of backgrounds working across the coastal reserve.

Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation (Wadawurrung)

Wadawurrung is the representative body for Wadawurrung Traditional Owners. The Corporation works to support Wadawurrung rights and interests in looking after our culture, country and our people. To manage and protect Wadawurrung cultural values and heritage. It is the legally recognised Registered Aboriginal Party for protection of Aboriginal Cultural Heritage in accordance with the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006.

Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation was appointed in May 2009 as a Registered Aboriginal Party under the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006. Wadawurrung’s RAP area covers over 10,000 square kilometres on the western side Melbourne and including the major regional cities of Geelong and Ballart, the Bellarine Peninsula and parts of the Surf Coast.

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