Coming Together – Bomaderry Indoor Sporting Complex mural

Late in 2019 I was approached to by Ms Kylie Knight, representing Bomaderry Community Inc. to consider creating a design for a new mural which was to be painted onto the front of the recently built Bomaderry Indoor Sporting Complex, located in Bomaderry NSW. The mural was completed in December 2020.

Indigenous design components were to be utilised within my early concept developments, at the request of both Shoalhaven City Council and Bomaderry Community Inc. The theme for the artwork would be relative to different sports played within the complex and as I love to utilise text in a lot of my work, I would also embed ‘words’ that would highlight the positive benefits of participating in sports based activities. Aboriginal art patterning and designs would soon become the foundation of the mural, with selected sporting figures and text being introduced as we made our way along the path headed for the commencement and then the completion of this fabulous project and cultural asset for Bomaderry.

At one stage during the design process it was indicated that if we were to utilise local Aboriginal language into the design it would create a deeper sense of understanding and knowledge in the area of cross cultural relations. As we were approaching the deadlines for this project to be finalised I decided to forge ahead with only the English text as there were differences of opinions being put forward by different Aboriginal advisors as to what was appropriate and what wasn’t appropriate.

3 months later it was decided that the front of the building was not suitable to house a large mural because of architectural considerations and other more general Council recommendations.

The 40 metre long by 4 metre high western side of the building was selected to become the area that the mural would be installed on and so I began to develop preliminary drawings using both manual and digital technology as my chosen media to work with.  

Bomaderry Community Inc. and Shoalhaven City Council had formed a partnership to support Ms Knight’s vision. I attended at least 3 meetings with Council representatives and received valuable support and advice to consider with the continuation of my design process. My design started to take shape, with the inclusion of figures representing the different modes of sport that are actually catered for in this new state of the art facility.

I was asked to recommend 2 suitable persons who would be contracted to install the mural. Simon Thomas (CHALKTALK) would be the lead artist and Glenn (DUFF) Duffield were later to be commissioned to do the physical job of painting this huge 160 square metre canvas. Painting of the mural commenced on the 1st of December and 15 days later it was completed and the 2 selected artists pulled off a fantastic achievement and delivered a beautiful culture enhancing painting that continues to receive brilliant positive feedback.


“Back to Burra Bee Dee” is visually portraying the history and development of a “parcel of land” that was bequeathed to the Aboriginal people living in and around the township of Coonabarabran in north western New South Wales.

In the latter part of the 19th century my Great, great grandmother Mary Jane Cain continued to advocate for the rights of her people so that they could be regarded and treated more equitably within the general community of Coonabarabran. Mary Jane (self-educated) wrote letters to Queen Victoria’s representative in NSW asking for assistance so that the Aboriginal people could commence living their own lives on a more equal footing with the general community.

Mary Jane travelled by Coach to Sydney to speak to the Governor of NSW in person and she was given a fair hearing. As a result of her persistence in advocating for the betterment of her people the Governor initially handed over a 400 acre “parcel of land” which was further added to by another 200 acres over the next 20 years or so. Mary Jane Cain like many other Aboriginal activists of the time was a leader in the Land Rights arena. Outside of Coonabarabran itself Mary Jane’s story is mostly unheard and untold.

The old photographic images that I have utilised and merged with my own recent pictures were taken by members of the Barrington family in 1951. James and Joan Barrington managed the Burra Bee Dee Reserve between 1949 -1952. The Barrington family gave these photographic images to my Uncle William Robinson to utilise in any way that he saw fit. Initially Uncle Bill utilised the images to assist in creating information plaques that are now placed at significant sites around the “Burra Bee Dee” landscape. These information plaques have been installed within a project that commenced to bring “Burra Bee Dee” into existence as a place for visitors to Coonabarabran to come and visit and to gain a sense of the Indigenous heritage of the ‘Coona’ area. Uncle Bill Robinson passed away over 3 years ago and I was granted access to these images by his wife, my aunty Mrs Margaret Robinson and their granddaughter Ms Paris Norton.

By blending the older images with my new photographs I have been able to create a sense of what it might have been like to live back in that era and then to bring that era back into a more contemporary setting aided by the utilisation of coloured photographic imagery.