“I THINK we’ve got the biggest fish trap in Australia,” declares Uncle Ken proudly.
“The rest have got their big bananas, pineapples ... this’ll put Albury on the map,” he continued with a chuckle.
And if the trap itself doesn’t, perhaps the project it is part of will — the giant steel structure takes pride of place along the banks of the Murray River and is one of 11 sculptures along the newest section of the Wagirra Trail.
Each piece has been created by local Aboriginal artists and they have been installed along five kilometres of trail between Kremur Street and Wonga Wetlands, along with interpretive panels to tell the story of each piece.
The Maya fish trap was designed by Uncle Ken Murray, Darren Wighton and Andom Rendall at the Aboriginal Men’s Shed, run through the Albury Wod-onga Aboriginal Health Service, and engineered by Butko.
“This is what we used to make — of course, it wouldn’t have been made of steel, but from all the plants growing around, all the natural things,” Uncle Ken explained.
“They were made so the little fish could escape while keeping the big ones to feed your family, so that way we still looked after the rivers.”
As far as Uncle Ken was concerned, the Wagirra Trail was “one of the best projects I’ve ever seen” and he was pleased to be part of it.
The project was another brought to Albury by the artists, Albury Council’s all-indigenous Wagirra work crew, and Butko Engineering.
The new sculpture walk itself is named “Yindyamarra”, a Wiradjuri word meaning respect, be gentle, polite, honour and do slowly — which its creators believe is the perfect way to experience the walk.
Albury mayor Kevin Mack, speaking at the opening, said the council had already applied for another $4 million in federal funding to complete further stages of the trail, with aims to loop around the Wonga Wetlands and extend all the way to Lake Hume.
“I believe we’ll get to Mungabareena, which is also a spiritual place for our indigenous people,” he said.
The $250,000 project was co-funded by the Australian government through the Tourism Industry Regional Development Fund grants program.
NOTE: The Wagirra Twilight Markets, scheduled for tonight at Wonga Wetlands, has been cancelled due to forecast heavy rain.