Understanding the meaning behind Merrivale sculptures

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New signage has been installed at Marrang Park in Merrivale to help visitors learn more about three existing sandstone sculptures.

The sculptures were designed by Peek Whurrong Elder Uncle Robert Lowe and carved by Mick Rigg as part of a larger project led by the Merrivale Community Association to beautify the area that began in 2006.

Uncle Robert said that the three artworks, Kuront (white-face heron), Pareetch (water) and Marrang (meeting place) was a way to tell the story of the Indigenous people who lived in the area near Levys Point and along the sand dunes.

“The symbols represent the storyline. Our ancestors camped just across the river,” he said.

“I designed them and a good friend of mine Mick Rigg carved them out, so an Indigenous person and a non-Indigenous person working together.”

Uncle Robert said that seeing the usage of the Peek Whurrong language in public signage, the dual naming of places, as well as being taught in Council-run kindergartens carried great significance. 

“Having the Indigenous and English language there gives people an idea about what (the sculptures) actually are and what they mean,” he said.

“What we have been hearing and what we see with the younger generation, even the non-Indigenous kids, it brings tears to your eyes… when you see kindergarten kids sitting down and talking in language it takes you back to the ancestor days when our people did sit around and speak in language.”

Warrnambool Mayor Cr Vicki Jellie said that Council now employs an Indigenous Liaison Officer to help the organisation work more closely with the local Indigenous community on a range of projects.

“A lot of people don’t know about these sculptures and this park unless you live in the Merrivale area - it’s a hidden gem,” she said.

“We are working to recognise the importance of Indigenous culture for the whole community.

“It’s really important for our understanding and education, not only to Warrnambool but for the whole region.”