An ever-expanding project exploring Indigenous stories and their connection to ecology has been boosted by a Lotterywest grant worth more than $570,000. Aboriginal Affairs Minister Tony Buti was joined by Albany MLA Rebecca Stephens for the presentation of the grant to Gondwana Link. The organisation will put the $527,875 grant towards expanding the Genestreams of Gondwana Link sculpture trail to sites in Denmark, Northcliffe, Bremer Bay and Ravensthorpe. Gondwana Link chief executive Keith Bradby said the link between ecology and Indigenous culture was “fundamental to everything we do”. “That’s been demonstrated through a number of discussions and projects we’ve had,” he said. “The cultural health of the country and ecological health of the country closely overlap. “This is about the bigger story of how it all fits together as the oldest continuous human culture and oldest continuous evolutionary process which are here in our region. “We should be prouder of them, so we want people to learn more about that.” Each sculpture will feature a number of petals decorated on both sides by artwork. Internal artwork will depict flora and fauna key to the area the sculpture is placed and external artwork will provide a Noongar interpretation of the Boodja (country). The concept for the sculptures was developed by Ben Beeton after elder Carol Pettersen raised the question of whether a national trail of artworks could simultaneously celebrate regional conservation efforts and Indigenous culture. Mr Beeton said it was exciting to be starting the first connected trail of something he anticipated would grow even further nationally. “Our goal is to establish the national tourism trail of Genestream Sculptures by the end of 2030,” he said. “We aim to achieve this by developing around 10 sculptures in each State or Territory by the end of 2030, promoting each State and Territory’s special ecosystems.” The first sculpture on the trail was installed at Twin Creeks, north of the Porongurup Range, in 2021 to test the concept. Ms Pettersen said she anticipated the Genestreams trail would attract tourists in a similar way to ever-expanding silo art trails. “It’s a similar concept and the same kind of journey,” she said. “Throughout it you will be learning about Gondwana Link, the Noongar songlines and the ecology. “You’ll be entertained at each spot because they will be picking up these unique flora and fauna to put into the artwork.” Since the first sculpture at Twin Creeks was launched another has been placed near Toowoomba. An augmented reality version of the sculpture was also unveiled last year in Mt Magnet, with others planned for Kellerberrin and Alice Springs. Gondwana Link will establish additional augmented reality sculptures in Hyden and Capel, as well as at Kings Park in Perth as a starting point for the trail. Ms Pettersen said it was important for people to see something tangible as a way of sparking further conversation. “We Noognar people can see it in our head and visualise so clearly the stories,” she said. “I remember being told stories as a kid then when I travelled as an older adult it was like turning the pages of a book because all those stories I’ve told were suddenly becoming visual. “People who don’t have that innate learning to visualise the concept need something tangible to look at to connect the dots.” As well as the Lotterywest funding, the Gondwana Link trail has been supported by sponsorship from BlueScope Steel, Vulcan and Hartway Galvinizers.