Date published: 22/05/2017

The figure of Yaburgurt Tondarup, a survivor of the Pinjarra Massacre of 1834, is a significant presence in the history of Mandurah and its surrounding districts. 

Leading into the year of the centenary of his death, the City of Mandurah, the local Aboriginal community and the Koolbardie Talking Group worked to commission an artwork to celebrate and commemorate the life and values of Yaburgurt.

Yaburgurt (also known as George Winjan*) was an influential figure and leader in the Bindjareb Boodja community up until his death in 1915. He worked extensively throughout the local community promoting tolerance, resilience and advocating reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities.

Through a competitive artist commission process, managed by Artsource, Noongar artist Peter Farmer and Little Rhino Designs were selected to create a reflective public artwork and memorial that was linked to the wider Yaburgurt 100 year celebration.

For over a year Peter Farmer, and his collaborators, Miranda Farmer and Kylie Graham, facilitated workshops with the Mandurah community including, over 150 schools in the Peel region and other local groups to develop and shape the creative content for the artwork.

The resulting spherical structure is constructed of six glass panels featuring designs adapted from the community workshops. Each of the panels is representative of the six Noongar seasons, with the sphere itself acting as a symbolic statement related to our place in a wider global community.

“The work represents an infinite shape, one with no beginning or end, a constant journey, not just inclusive of the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities but that of all communities throughout the world,” Farmer said.

Installed in late 2016, the public artwork is situated prominently on the Manjar Square foreshore, looking out towards Yaburgurt’s birthplace at Koolin-Yinnup (Halls Head).

The launch of the artwork this March is but one component of a larger vision to commemorate the societal changes advocated for by Yaburgurt and his people, with an extensive Education Program and numerous public events developed and presented by the City of Mandurah. Here residents and visitors to Mandurah are invited to learn and make meaningful connections with the diverse history and heritage of the Peel region.

The centenary celebrations alongside the permanent memorial mark a significant moment for Mandurah and Western Australia, representing a commitment to honouring Yaburgurt’s legacy and to an on-going process of learning, experiencing and celebrating the history, achievements and on-going culture of local Aboriginal people.

The project is part of the City of Mandurah’s Reconciliation Action Plan and the Arts, Heritage, and Culture Strategy, both of which seek to create an inclusive community with strong relationships across cultures based on mutual respect and understanding.

*Yaburgurt Tondarup (family name) was born in Mandjoogoordap at a campsite called Koolin-Yinnup… Yaburgurt’s totem Yabaruk Kooyading translated as ‘sea booming’ is a sea totem. Local settlers called him ‘George’ so Yaburgurt is also known as George Winjan: however, in early records his surname was also recorded as Wingan, Wingen and Wingin. Nevertheless, it is respectful that he be remembered and referred to as Yaburgurt Winjan because this is the name that he was given by his parents. Exceprt from the Yaburgurt Education Pack.

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