The whale, a significant totem for the Dharawal people, is at the heart of Shaw Landscape Groups’ newest project in Lake Illawarra’s Reddall Reserve. The artwork titled ‘Burri Burri’, meaning whale, is the latest installation to join Wollongong’s immersive ‘Illawarra Art Trail’.

Bronze whale sculpture by Julie Squires at reddall reserve for Illawarra Art Trail Burri Burri
‘Burri Burri’ meaning whale, is the latest installation to join Wollongong’s ‘Illawarra Art Trail’

Julie Squires celebrating her bronze sculpture Burri Burri at Reddall Reserve in lake Illawarra
‘Burri Burri’ in Reddall Reserve, Lake Illawarra now open to the public

The concept was developed by Jodi Edwards, a local Yuin educator and knowledge holder, in collaboration with Gweagal Dharawal artist and educator, Theresa Ardler and sculptor, Julie Squires. The installation features two large coolamon seats and a 3 metre long whale which are both cast from bronze using a unique fabrication process taking eight months to construct.

Shaw Landscape Group marking the circle for Burri Burri
The process began by marking the designated area in preparation for excavation

Excavating to create a large circle for Burri Burri Artwork at Reddall Reserve
The circle ready for the stonemason to lay bluestone to create ‘crazy paved’ border

Shaw Landscape Group installing steel edging to garden surrounds of Burri Burri artwork at Redall reserve
Shaw Landscape Group installing steel edging to garden surrounds

Alongside a local stonemason, Shaw Landscape Group installed the gardens surrounding the ‘Burri Burri’ artwork. The process began by marking the designated area and excavating to create a large circle. Next, the stonemason laid irregular shaped bluestone which was sourced from a local quarry and generously donated by Hanson Construction to create a ‘crazy paved’ border. Following this, our team installed steel edging to the curved garden beds, as well as compacted deco granite, a selection of native plants, soil and decorative mulch. The planting palette included various native grasses such as Poa and Lomandra longifolia, hardy evergreen native Lilli Pilli shrubs, Pig face for ground coverage and feature Banksia trees.

The Burri Burri Landscaped gardens complete ready for bronze whale
The landscaping complete, ready and waiting for sculpture installation

Whether walking or riding your bike along Reddall Reserve, there’s no denying that this eye-catching artwork will deepen the communities cultural and spiritual connection to the land. ‘Burri Burri’ was officially opened to the public on May 29th in celebration of National Reconciliation Week. The team at Gumaraa also gathered at Reddall Reserve on Wednesday 14th June to host an intimate smoking ceremony, storytelling and ‘whale dance’ performance which Shaw Landscape Group were privileged to attend.

Smoking Ceremony for the opening of Burri Burri at Reddall Reserve
Preparing for the Smoking Ceremony to celebrate the opening of ‘Burri Burri’ at Reddall Reserve

Sculpter Julie Squires with Gumarra member celebrating opening of new artwork
Sculpter Julie Squires with Gumarra member 

Documented here is a selection of photos to showcase the installation process, as well as the special event performance highlights. A special thanks to Shellharbour City Council and Hanson Construction for funding this project.

Smoking Ceremony for Burri Burri artwork opening
Smoking Ceremony performance by Gumaraa

Shaw Landscape Group celebrating the opening of Burri Burri at Redall Reserve
Shaw Landscape Group celebrating the opening of ‘Burri Burri’ at Reddall Reserve

Burri Burri Whale dance to celebrate the opening at Reddall Reserve
Performing the ‘Whale Dance’ at Reddall Reserve