Wiradjuri woman and Sydney Lord Mayor candidate, Yvonne Weldon, has big plans for Sydney and it leads back to culture.
Weldon has proposed Urban Billabongs for the New South Wales capital.
Weldon told the National Indigenous Times that the idea for the Urban Billabongs came to her after seeing “some pretty far-out proposals for sites to help Sydneysiders cool off”.
“Giant concrete pools built in the middle of the harbour… I just thought, there has to be a better way, she said.
“A plan that’s not going to cost a bomb, that will work with our existing urban fabric, and that benefits residents throughout the city – not just those lucky enough to live by Sydney Harbour.”
Weldon said after working alongside urbanism firm Habit8, they came up with the idea of Urban Billabongs.
“They’re shallow lagoons that trace old City of Sydney creeks and waterways, to form a modern ‘Songline’ through the city,” she said.
“We’re calling it the Ochre Songline – it’s a way to respect our First Nations culture and history, while providing safe access to water for everyone to enjoy, especially as our summers get hotter.”
The Ochre Songline connects potential sites for Urban Billabongs in Sydney Park, Alexandria Park, and Belmore Park, leading out to two harbour side sites at Pirrama Park and Barangaroo Headland Park.
“The idea is that residents and visitors can travel along the Songline by foot, bike, or public transport, immersing themselves in the city along the way,” she said.
“We designed the Urban Billabongs to be used as a place for people to meet, play, and cool
“But they can also transform into spaces for music and events from time to time, which
gives them this cultural significance that the natural billabongs always held for my people.”
Weldon told the National Indigenous Times that having the five Urban Billabongs, “connected by the Ochre Songline, will help people to form a stronger connection
with their environment”.
“In the past, Songlines served as walking routes for our people across Country, linking important sites and locations.
“Water has always been, and will always be, an integral part of country, for cultural, social and economic reasons.
“By creating sites that place connection with water and with Country at their core, we
can respect Aboriginal history and heritage.”
“While giving everybody a new way to connect within their city.”
Weldon said the Billabongs will “give people a sense of belonging and custodianship, and inspire them to be proud of and look after their local environment for the next generation”.
As the first Aboriginal person to run for Lord Mayor of Sydney Weldon told the National Indigenous Times that she is “committed to making sure everyone, especially those who are marginalised in the halls of power, are included in this great city.”
“I am not a career politician. I am from the community, and I have always contributed to giving back and helping where I can,” she said.
“Most recently in my roles at Domestic Violence NSW, the Australia Day Council, Redfern Jarjum College and the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council.
The next election for the City of Sydney Council will be held on Saturday, December 4.
By Teisha Cloos