Wingham High School build Indigenous garden and yarning circle

Wingham High School now has a purpose-built Indigenous bush tucker garden.

Science and agriculture primary industries teacher, John Hawkins has been working with the school’s Indigenous students for a number of years. He had earlier developed the mural garden centrally in the school and took on the Indigenous garden after talking with the Aboriginal officer, Brendan Croker.

The garden incorporates a central meeting area for the school’s Indigenous students.

“We needed somewhere to meet for yarning circles and group activities that were accessible to all and was reflective of local country,” Mr Hawkins said.

“Brendan and I reviewed my design and gained approval to build it last year.”

We needed somewhere to meet for yarning circles and group activities that were accessible to all and was reflective of local country.

The main seating is made of tallowood logs, which came to the school via Machins Mill.  The river rocks for edges were sourced from Aus Eco Landscape Supplies in Wingham, as well as the other hard elements such as gravel.

The plants were, as much as possible, chosen specifically based on usage or bush foods by the local Biripi peoples.

“I had also a need to include plants of significance to men and women in the tribal groups in terms of use,” Mr Hawkins said.

The basic design elements are in and growing after a planting day with students. Kerrie from Aus Eco Landscape Supplies and Tracey from Native Bee Garden Centre assisted the students on the planting day. 

Related reading:Wingham High School NAIDOC celebrations

Prior to the planting day Mr Hawkins and his son, Robert, spent a number of Saturdays at the site planning, concreting the edge stones and moving gravel.

Stage two of the garden is progressing with the development of ceramic-based  Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags which will be placed centrally in the seated circle area for ceremonies. 

Students are also developing art work for the central posts on metal sheets donated by the Manning River Steel team in Taree.

The posts on the walkways to the area will be art-worked in time, as well as a mural developed to reflect local culturally significant areas and appropriate design and totems.

The whole project has taken on a multi faceted approach with the visual arts faculty now working with students to develop the stage two art works, the ongoing maintenance of plants, and the labelling of the plants involved.

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