Passenger Rail, Inclusion and Diversity, Major Projects & Infrastructure, Social Governance

Aboriginal murals at upgraded Moree station

aboriginal Moree

 

The community is invited to the unveiling of two murals which tell the story of Aboriginal people’s involvement in the railway precinct around the New South Wales town of Moree, as part of a $1.8 million upgrade to the town’s historic train station.

The murals, created by artists Laura Pitt and Lena Smith, incorporate elements of the surrounding landscape and will feature the handprints of some of the Aboriginal workers to thank them for their contribution.

Transport for NSW Regional Director West, Alistair Lunn, said the organisation was proud to be bringing some of those Aboriginal workers back to place their handprints on the murals as a permanent tribute to them.

“Many Aboriginal people were employed as fettlers and helped build the railway line between Narrabri and Moree and we hope they, along with the rest of the community, feel a sense of pride when they see their handprints on the new murals,” he said.

“The murals are a beautiful representation of the Indigenous culture in Moree, which will stand out to customers as they enter the newly upgraded station.”

The artists, both Gamilaroi women with strong ties to Moree, were selected in consultation with local Aboriginal representatives.

They combined their creative skills to paint the murals on the south-facing wall of the station building and along the ramp leading up to the platform respectively.

Pitt started painting as a young girl, taking inspiration from her father and brothers who were also painters, and creating her own style.

She was selected to design the NRL All Stars Jersey in 2019 and Gold Coast Titans Indigenous Round Jersey in 2020.

“My inspiration is the land I come from, which is Moree, and I try to interpret the land animals as well as our Dreamtime stories which have been passed down because it’s so important to share our history and culture,” she said.

“With this artwork I’ve got the goanna, which is the Gamilaroi nation totem, the train tracks to take in the history of the railway and the Aboriginal Elders and people who worked on the railway throughout their lifetime.

“There are turtles going through the Mehi river which flows through our country and the Aboriginal flag which represents the Aboriginal community in Moree.

“I hope the community feel proud when they walk past and say ‘that’s our community and that represents us’.”

Smith is also a generational artist who grew up watching her family paint and has several murals in Moree already, including the On Demand bus service, as well as commissions in the Northern Territory.

She met with some of the Aboriginal men who worked on the railway line and captured their journey in the mural.

“I chose browns, greens and blues to represent the land, the grass and the sky,” she said.

“I’ve got the Mehi River, the arches representing shelter which is for the workers and their homes, and I’ve got meeting circles which represent Moree and some of the little towns the train goes through on the way to Sydney.

“There are footprints of the native animals around here including kangaroos and emus, and footprints representing the workers to capture their journey building the track.

“I met with some of the men who worked here, listened to their stories and I hope they see their stories represented in what I’ve painted.”

The now complete Moree Railway Station upgrade, funded through the NSW Government’s Transport Access Program (TAP), has made accessing the station much easier for people with a disability, people with limited mobility, parents and carers with prams, and customers with luggage.

Work to upgrade existing footpaths and ramps around the station precinct, improved access to the kiss-and-ride bay and taxi zone and a new accessible parking space, along with a formalised bus stop at the station entrance, started in December 2021.

There have also been improvements to the waiting room, ticket office and other amenities including ambulant toilets.

The community is invited to attend the unveiling on Tuesday, May 30, at 11am.