Port Kembla Seawall unveiled during Reconciliation Week celebrations

Media release

2 June 2020

The rebuilding of a severely damaged seawall at Sydney Water’s Port Kembla Stormwater Plant in Wollongong has been completed following a collaboration with local Aboriginal groups over the last few years.

Among the features is a 21-metre-long Aboriginal art installation depicting stories by local artists of the Coomaditchie United Aboriginal Corporation.

The new wall is positioned along a 220-metre walkway that allows the public to access Red Point safely and use it for leisure activities such as fishing, walking and of course viewing the incredible artwork.

Sydney Water Managing Director Roch Cheroux says, “Severe storms damaged the seawall in 2016. When we began planning for repairs, the cultural significance of the site was a key consideration and we were delighted to be able to work with the local Aboriginal community to bring this project to life.”

“We engaged with local Aboriginal community groups and the Illawarra Local Aboriginal Land Council and agreed the project was a great opportunity to not just fix the seawall but tell the stories of our First people and share the rich history of the place.”

“Connection to Country is integral to Aboriginal identity. It’s important that our projects take Aboriginal perspectives into consideration from the very first planning stages and we look for ways to incorporate traditional knowledge, skills and culture in a meaningful way.”

Five artworks tell Dreamtime stories and denote the history of the place: whale migration, Hill 60, fishing and the industrialisation of the region.

The Illawarra Local Aboriginal Land Council (ILALC) CEO Paul Knight says he’s been excited about collaborating in the redevelopment of the seawall and recognising the continuing connection of Aboriginal people to this significant area.

“Being able to work together to achieve a great practical outcome and also provide all community members with the chance to reflect on the history of this land prior to its current industrial backdrop is exciting and an initiative that I would encourage all other businesses to consider.” “

I congratulate Sydney Water for their commitment to this work and the engagement of Aboriginal people as part of this significant project.” said Mr Knight.

ILALC landscapers were also engaged to plant out the surrounding area, with selected plants native to the Illawarra region. The seawall walk is now open to the public.