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You can’t Google culture


Landscape architecture takes on many forms and functions, much of which is based on well founded and practiced principles.

But when it comes to designing an indigenous garden there are some things you simply can’t learn from Google.

So when Wolter Consulting Group’s senior landscape architect, Lloyd Jones took on the task of building a garden to celebrate NAIDOC Week he knew it would be vital to collaborate with local indigenous Australians.

“Collaboration with indigenous Australians is important on any landscape project but it takes on special significance when designing a garden with indigenous themes,” Lloyd said.

“Indigenous Australians offer landscape architects and designers with knowledge you simply cannot find on search engines or even books.

“After all they are the original custodians of the Australian landscape, so their knowledge is unrivalled.

“Without genuine engagement of Indigenous people it is impossible to achieve a true sense of place, which respects traditional culture.”

Today saw the unveiling of the results of this collaboration by the State Member for Kallangur, Shane King MP, at the Kedron Emergency Services Complex.

The garden was a collaborative project between the Queensland Government, Wolter Consulting Group (WCG) Landscape Architecture and Indigenous Gilimbaa artists Rachael Sarra and David Williams.

The theme for the garden is ‘Meeting Place’, traditionally a culturally significant site for Aboriginal men and women to meet and gather. The theme was chosen as the garden sits directly adjacent to the café; a place where staff of the Emergency Services Complex come together to meet, talk and have lunch.

Inspired by Indigenous language, the colours and patterns of the desert and Australia’s beautiful native plants, the garden is a living work of art. All plants chosen are native to Australia with most species significant to indigenous Australians due to their edibility and medicinal uses. Plant tags are used within the garden to captivate and educate onlookers.

Indigenous art work painted on a large rock adds further meaning to the garden. Created by Gilimbaa artists Rachael (Goreng Goreng) and David (Wakka Wakka), the artwork celebrates Aboriginal culture and storytelling.

Communities share history and culture through conversations, creating a vibrant journey from generation to generation. This design celebrates communities gathering together and sharing their diverse stories. The inner area of the symbol is contained to reflect the safe space created by meeting places within communities. The design is framed by people gathering together sharing stories, culture and support.

The final design for the garden came about following an internal landscape design competition within WCG. Lloyd challenged the landscape staff to undertake in-depth research of Australian indigenous culture and then link the design to NAIDOC week. Five concepts were designed by the landscape team; three from Rachel McDonald, one from Lloyd and the other from Simon Wong.

Lloyd met client, Paul Heffernan, Senior Groundskeeper David Yorke at Kedron and their facilities services staff to present the five concepts. After talking through each concept, the unanimous decision was Rachel’s design as the winning piece. Elements from Simon’s and Lloyd’s design were then incorporated into the project.  

David and Rachel were appointed to incorporate indigenous artwork into the garden and collaborated with the WCG landscape team to achieve desired design and educational outcomes.

For Lloyd the project had added significance.

In 1999 his father, Mark Jones, won the 1999 State Architecture award for the original on-site building at the Emergency Services Complex  when he was Managing Director of Mark Jones Architects (MJA). When MJA was bought out by Architectus, Mark delivered another State Architecture Award in 2012 for QEOC (Queensland Emergency Services Operations Centre).

“Because of my family history on this site, extending over 20 years now, I feel I have a strong tie to this place,” Lloyd said.

“It has become very special to me. I have enjoyed extending the built form design elements my father left behind, weaving it into the design of the landscape.

“Linking back up with dad’s client Paul has been very enjoyable. Also working closely with David Yorke, who constructs the landscape designs, has been a great experience.

“I am constantly reminded how important collaboration is in design as well as creating healthy relationships. Providing a sense of ownership to all parties involved is key.”

If you would like to know more about the Meeting Place NAIDOC garden or generally have any questions about landscaping, do not hesitate to contact our experienced landscape team.