The Woolgoolga to Ballina Pacific Highway project.
The Woolgoolga to Ballina Pacific Highway project.

Local Aboriginal feature on the Pacific Highway trail

TEN artists from the Coffs Coast are set to feature in an Aboriginal art trail along the Woolgoolga to Ballina Pacific Highway upgrade.

Transport for NSW has employed engagement and design specialists Balarinji to work with key Aboriginal stakeholders including local Elders, knowledge holders and artists to develop concept artwork.

Transport for NSW Director North Region, Anna Zycki, said the artists will design work that will appear on nine bridge safety screens and four rest areas located along the 155-kilometre route once it opens fully to traffic in 2020.

"Aboriginal artists and creative thinkers with a connection to the local Gumbaynggirr, Yaegl and Bundjalung communities are creating work depicting stories from their narratives," Ms Zycki said.

"Balarindji's co-design process directly involves the local Aboriginal community in the process and places local Elders and knowledge holders at the centre of decision-making."

Ms Zycki said the artists chosen from the Gumbaynggirr community are Daniel Dootson, Debbie Taylor and Reece Flanders.

"Aneika Kapeen, Frances Belle Parker, Gilbert Laurie and the late Jessica Birk have been selected to represent the Yaegl community," Ms Zycki said.

"The Bundjalung community will be represented by Marcus Ferguson, Oral Roberts and Sheldon Harrington."

The NSW Government is supporting the Woolgoolga to Ballina Aboriginal art trail as part of its Beyond the Pavement design policy, which seeks to improve journeys and make rest areas more attractive to stop and relax.

Ms Zycki said the artwork also helps reduce vandalism and graffiti, improves the tourist experience and - most importantly - provides a connection to the deep Aboriginal history and culture of the region.

"The NSW Government is justly proud of its Aboriginal engagement on the Pacific Highway upgrade, where about seven per cent of the workforce identify as Aboriginal," Ms Zycki said.

"More than one-third of those identify with the local Aboriginal nations of Gumbaynggir, Yaegl and Bundjalung."

The Pacific Highway already features similar artwork at Banora Point and Nambucca Service Centre as well as the Aboriginal-themed design at the Ballina Interchange.

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