Walk or cycle the trail to explore local history, Aboriginal heritage, flora and fauna. The artworks were created by local artists in collaboration with the community in response to the lake, it's history and it's people. Located at Reddall Reserve, Lake Illawarra, walk or cycle the trail.

Long Distance

Artist: Carla Gottgens 

Location: Bardsley Park, Shellharbour 

'Long Distance’ depicts the annual journey of humpback whales on their migratory path along our coastline. The site location enables viewers to observe the tails in their breach and play position with the sea behind. While the blue and aqua colour fit cohesively with the Shellharbour sea water.

Each tail has a faceted design, displaying a collection of panels using drone photographs taken of the different oceans the humpback whale migrates through. Intermixed are illustrations and often used geometric imagery of sea swells and water movement. 

Multi-disciplinary artist Carla Gottgens encourages interaction, discovery, and play as visitors explore these majestic metal structures. Her creation process began with consideration to the Shellharbour area and identifying something that is meaningful to both our local community and visitors.

Burri Burri

Artists: Jodi Edwards, Theresa Ardler, Julie Squires & Nicole Talbott.

Location: Reddall Reserve, Lake Illawarra.

This artwork is based on Gang man gang, a local Dreaming story that tells of the creation of Windang Island and how the Cultural Custodians came to be in the Illawarra. It depicts characters of the story including Burri Burri (whale) and his canoe (mudjari), Ghoon a ghaan (star fish), Garilwa (koala), Guradhawak (brolga). 

The Burri Burri artwork was developed by Jodi Edwards, a local Yuin Educator and Knowledge Holder, and Theresa Ardler, a Gweagal Dharawal artist and educator, in collaboration with Sculptor Julie Squires. The whale design is based on a drawing by Theresa Ardler. The coolamon seat carvings are based on drawings by local Dharawal artist Nicole Talbott. The sculptures were created in Julie’s studio by shaping the whale and coolamon forms in polystyrene foam and coating them in wax before hand-carving into the surface.

The pieces were then cast into bronze using an industrial sand-casting technique. The whale was cast into 12 pieces before being welded back together. The bluestone boulder base for the whale was sourced at Hanson Quarry. Overall, the fabrication process took eight months. We invite you to sit down on a coolamon and learn more about this culturally significant local story.The story of Gang man gang remains the intellectual property of the Cultural Custodians from whom the story has been passed from generation to generation. Many thanks to Hanson Group, for their support of this project.  Landscaping by Shaw Landscaping. Stonework by Ron Dovern and John De Bortoli.

Within the Dharawal and Yuin Nations whales have played a significant role. The dreaming Story Gang man Gang describes the phenomena of how the Dharawal people and animals came to be in the Illawarra.

The whale’s madjari/nuwi (canoe) helped the animals (in a time when Aboriginal people could morph between animal form and human form) come from across the sea to land here at Lake Illawarra. More significantly, the belief of the Dharawal and Yuin people is that the whales are our Elders, ones that once walked the land and then they went to sea to protect the fish and food and the medicine of the Gadhu. 

Whales of the South Coast were significant as they were the law holders within the sea and they would beach themselves as a sign that our people needed to come together to talk about law, to share or create a new law while many Aboriginal people from the coast were together. The men would spear the whales and turn them on to their backs allowing their spirits to free from their bellies. 

Synergy by Kane Minogue, Studio 303

‘Synergy’, designed and fabricated by metal artist Kane Minogue, is inspired by life on Lake Illawarra for the Wadi Wadi people, the original inhabitants and traditional custodians of the lake and surrounding areas. 
It is also representative of Lake Illawarra still today, with the focus of the lake now recreational rather than based on survival. 

The artwork uses a ring of 4 m high seaweed intertwined with marine life specific to Lake Illawarra all swimming in an upward circular direction. This design element represents the circle of life within the lake, Synergy and a sense of community. 

It’s fabricated from over 3000 recycled metal objects. 
Some interesting objects include vintage motorcycle shock absorbers, push bike pedals, bolt cutters, golf clubs, old hand tools and a Hayley Davidson rear vision mirror. 
Can you find them?
What other objects can you find? 

The use of recycled metal objects reflects the artists’ passion for nature and its sustainability. He endeavours for the sculpture to help generate further education, care and respect for Lake Illawarra and the marine life within it. 

Prawn Run by Hurricane and Laura Bestman, XYZ Dimensions

‘Prawn Run’ pays tribute to generations of fishermen and women who have trawled the lake for centuries for commerce and recreation. Suspended in flight, the 5 prawns sculpted from aluminium appear to jump right out of the water as they run under a dark tidal moon. 3 to 6 metres high atop steel posts they twist and turn, as they leap ever higher, chasing the moon in a contorting dance. At the highest point of the artwork sits a majestic full moon. It lures the passers-by, paralleling the pull of the tide and its importance to a successful night of fishing.

Beginning as a highly detailed CAD model, each prawn is made from 27 unique laser-cut pieces. The legs and antenna of each prawn are made from 92 pieces of aluminium tube. The entire project took 600 hours and is made from 17t of concrete, 27 sheets of aluminium, 80m of tube and 6999 rivets!


Split by David Ball

A beautiful work made from corten steel, representing a shape found in nature. The piece is an aesthetically dramatic framing of Windang Island.

David Ball considers every angle of his sculptures. "I tend to work classically", he says. "I believe sculpture should command and relate to a space and work completely in the round, offering differing experiences from all angles, structure and poetry in one."

‘Split’ was featured at Sculptures at Killalea, and David was awarded the Aqualand Sculpture Prize award for his work, ‘Orb’ in the Sydney Sculpture by The Sea exhibition.

Ghost Trees for Spirit of Place by Lizzie Buckmaster Dove and Robert Nancarrow

Ghost Trees for Spirit of Place represents the community’s collective memory and history of the lake, standing as guardian totems for Lake Illawarra.

Each totem has a distinct character that defines an individual aspect of the lake; sanctuary, place, memory, imagination, freedom, weather and protection.

The work illustrates the lakes rich cultural history, and its significance to all Shellharbour’s people spanning thousands of years, since our first Aboriginal people walked its shores. Standing together, the totems act as one, reflecting the strength of the lake community.

Fauna of the Lake by Shellharbour Woodcarvers

This artwork features deep relief carving of animal species found in and around Lake Illawarra. Fish, shellfish and birds documented by the Lake Illawarra Authority are depicted in the carving and include Snapper, Yellow Fin Bream, Mud Crab, Scallop, Little Tern and Shag.

It took 352 hours and 15 members of the Shellharbour Woodcarvers to carve this artwork.

Shellharbour Woodcarver members involved in Fauna of the Lake: Jim Balmain, Ray White, Terry Elkins, Ted Furlong, Kevin Goss, John Unwin, Col Edwards, Kevin Gillis, Frank O’Connor, Vivian Franks, Madeleine Norrish, Bill Cheyne, Sandra Hamblen, Graham Tibbitts, Alyssa Willstrop.

The Illawarra Dreaming by Aunty Lorraine Brown and Narelle Thomas

The colours and materials used in this artwork are representative of the evergreen escarpment, rivers, streams, ocean and shoreline as well as the abundant food system. The shells used illustrate the middens by the lake’s edge.

The artwork represents parts of two local Dreaming stories – Gang-Man-Gang (The Whale and the Starfish), the creation of Windang Island and Gurrangatty, the creation of Lake Illawarra.

As told by Aunty Lorraine Brown

This is the story of the creation of the waterways of the Illawarra
It is the story of a gigantic fish – Gurangatty who was involved in a dual
Some say the dual was with a giant eel and others say it was with a huge serpent

The dual happened all the way from the mountains to the sea – with the creatures splitting open the earth and creating the waterways. It went on for days.

Eventually, the eel (or the snake) broke through the earth looking for Gurangatty and so Lake Illawarra was created
Gurangatty disappeared

Some say the eel still lies at the bottom of Lake Illawarra – waiting
Others say the serpent lies draped over the hills creating the escarpment

Maybe they were both in the dual
And maybe they are both still waiting for Gurangatty
Who knows?

Leatherbacks by Jane Cavanough, Artlandish Art and Design

A dead leatherback turtle washed up on the Shellharbour shoreline in March 2015. It sadly died from ingesting a plastic bag and had been hit by a boat. A pair of leatherback turtles were seen swimming between Winding and Port Kembla beaches in February 2016.

These concrete, mosaic and steel turtles are artistic representations of these local leatherback turtles, designed to encourage exploration, interaction and discovery through creative, imaginative play.

Leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea), are the largest sea turtle in the world, listed as critically endangered. According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the West Pacific population of leatherback turtles has a habitat that extends as far north as the Sea of Japan, and south to the Tasman Sea. They nest primarily in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and also in Vanuatu.



The Lake Illawarra Art Trail, along with heritage trails around the area, can be found on the Tread Shellharbour App.

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Last updated : Thu 30 Nov 2023