Saturday, 15 April 2023


Be the first to experience this awesome new play space!

Shellharbour City Council will open an innovative new Aboriginal Interpretive Play Space next week, the first of its kind in the area.

Yirran muru, which translates to ‘many pathways’ in the local Dharawal language, is a new contemporary play space designed to reflect the natural environment and the city’s rich Dharawal Aboriginal culture and history.

From the escarpment to the sea, Yirran muru will take people of all ages on a cultural journey following in the footsteps of local Aboriginal people.

The official opening ceremony will be held on Tuesday 18 April at 11am with a traditional smoking ceremony by Gawura and Aboriginal performance and dance by Gumaraa and Kugang Djambi before a community create & play event at 12pm involving cultural workshops, craft activities and a free bbq lunch.

The play space is nestled in the native gardens at the rear of the Shellharbour Civic Centre, affectionately known as ‘the backyard’.

Over 300 local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander school students, along with local Elders, engaged with Council to collaborate on the play space’s design

The engagement took place during Reconciliation Week activities and in-school workshops, and encouraged conversations with local community members to gain an understanding of individuals’ visions for the play space. It was discovered that children prefer to learn by exploring and self-discovery, while the Elders expressed their desire to provide opportunities to learn about local Aboriginal stories about how people moved around Shellharbour.

The space incorporates the inclusive design principals in NSW Government’s ‘Everyone Can Play’ guidelines to enhance the sense of place and connection for people of all ages, abilities and cultural backgrounds.

There are multiple interactive elements including Burri Burri - a hand carved timber whale, a canoe across the Jubborsay (Lake Illawarra), a gunya (dwelling), a treehouse lookout, sandpit, climbing equipment, bush tucker plants and more.

The space also includes a language wheel sign, where visitors can listen to and learn words from the Dharawal language and earn more about local Aboriginal culture.

Each of the play features are designed to enhance children’s understanding of the seasonal movements of Aboriginal people in the local area and connection through Creation Stories.

Shellharbour City Mayor Chris Homer said the space was a wonderful opportunity to share local Aboriginal culture and incorporate natural features in Shellharbour.

“The Aboriginal Interpretive Play Space is an incredible new addition to our city,” Mayor Homer said.

“Council staff consulted with our local Aboriginal people and school students to develop this space and assist in the planning of this cultural feature.”

“Yirran muru is unique, beautiful, fun and educational and I Iook forward to learning more about the rich history of Dharawal country, the beautiful place in which we live,” he said.

Yirran Muru was designed by landscape architect Fiona Robbe and built by Simpson Landscape and Consultants.

This project is collectively funded by the NSW Government through the Everyone Can Play Initiative and Open Spaces, Places to Play Program in partnership with Shellharbour City Council.

For more information:

Media enquiries: Heidi Ekman 0499 751 040

Last updated : Mon 17 Apr 2023