About 500km north-west of Sydney, on the other side of the Pilliga scrub, you’ll find the small town of Baradine – a major tourist drawcard brimming with culture.
At its heart lies the “Sculptures in the Scrub Walking track” which is attracting visitors from as far away as Europe.
“I get people from all over the world, people from Poland, Germany and sometimes I don’t understand their language. But once I start talking about the land, what happened there, who used to live there, that there’s a settlement at the bottom of Andrew Gorge they’re really interested,” Baradine LALC Board Member Patricia Madden says.
“Sculptures in the Scrub Walking Track” is the brainchild of the Baradine LALC, who alongside the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, engaged a number of Aboriginal artists to create several works of art.
Each sculpture is inspired by stories of the local history of this timeless land – from the Scrub Spirits overlooking the gorge to the “First Lesson” standing watch over traditional hunting grounds.
“Most of the local Aboriginal people they feel part of it, there’s something in it – like myself. I was born in Narrabri on the other side of the scrub and been here for the best part of 61 years but I keep coming back, I’ve been away a few times but there’s something here that attracts you. This Pilliga scrub is part of me, and I’m part of the Pilliga scrub,” Baradine LALC Chairperson Ron Magaan says.
The LALC also operate an arts and crafts store called Marama-lai which means “make by hand”.
Members are also focused on keeping the Land Council’s doors open and supporting local families. Securing ongoing funding will be their next achievement to provide essential services.
“I think the main challenges too, is Land Rights and funding to keep going. I hope it continues on and we have someone to continue the roles we are doing today in Baradine,” Deputy Chair Robyn Ruttley says.