Town Square art installation to preserve Albany’s Menang Noongar and European history

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Sarah MakseAlbany Advertiser
Albany Heritage Reference Group Aboriginal Corporation chair Lester Coyne and Albany Mayor Dennis Wellington at the site of the new artwork set to depict Robert Dale’s panorama of Albany.
Camera IconAlbany Heritage Reference Group Aboriginal Corporation chair Lester Coyne and Albany Mayor Dennis Wellington at the site of the new artwork set to depict Robert Dale’s panorama of Albany. Credit: Laurie Benson

A public art installation preserving a nearly 200-year-old vision of Albany and a new tribute to Menang leader Mokare form part of a new Aboriginal cultural heritage project in Albany Town Square.

The Albany Heritage Reference Group Aboriginal Corporation, representing local Menang Noongar families, secured $29,000 in State Government funding on Friday to deliver the project in partnership with the City of Albany.

An artwork next to the Town Hall will recreate Lt Robert Dale’s 1834 panorama painting of Albany, showing the natural landscape from Mt Clarence and interactions between the Menang Noongar traditional owners and British settlers.

It will be accompanied with signs depicting traditional and contemporary Menang Noongar history.

Corporation chair Lester Coyne said the new artwork would complement existing pieces in Alison Hartman Gardens honouring Albany’s Menang Noongar history.

“My understanding is that it will be a large rock that will be split in half and polished, with the art put on to the rock face and it will be either standing alongside the town hall or embedded in the paving outside,” he said.

A section of Lt Robert Dale’s panorama of Albany painted in 1834.
Camera IconA section of Lt Robert Dale’s panorama of Albany painted in 1834. Credit: Supplied

“It reflects the Menang people and our relationship with the settlers when they first came here.

“And it is sort of a walk-through pathway — there will be signage, there will be lighting.”

Mr Coyne said a significant part of the project would be the addition of a plaque recognising what was believed to be the location of Mokare’s burial place behind the Albany Town Hall.

Mokare, the famous Menang leader, is seen as the man largely responsible for Albany’s peaceful early settlement.

“One of the other momentous things is they are going to be looking at a memorial plaque or burial signage for Mokare, up in the parking area at the back of the town hall,” Mr Coyne said.

“It is to finish off and polish off what has been done in Alison Hartman Gardens.”

City of Albany Mayor Dennis Wellington said final plans for the artwork were still to be determined, but it would be a terrific addition to the Town Square.

“The Dale panorama, I think, is a wonderful picture of how the place was settled,” he said.

“The interaction between the colonial people and the Noongar people that were here and the fact that it was a very peaceful arrangement.

“And it has just been a terrific relationship ever since then, and we want to carry it on.”

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