Project name: Gwoonwardu Mia
Project description: Re-establishment of the Gascoyne Aboriginal Heritage and Cultural Centre, Gwoonwardu Mia.
Project objectives: Rebuilding the cultural presence of our First Nations People in Carnarvon.
Current phase: Completed
Gwoonwardu Mia, Gascoyne Aboriginal Heritage and Cultural Centre is a multipurpose centre that celebrates the culture and country of the five Aboriginal language groups of the Gascoyne Region, the Yinggarda, Baiyungu, Malgana, Thadgari and Thalanyji. The centre is in Carnarvon on Yinggarda land.
The centre opened in 2005 but was closed in 2015 by its Board due to concerns over the management of the centre and financial issues.
In October 2018, the Hon. Alannah MacTiernan Minister for Regional Development and the Gascoyne
Development Commission (GDC) met with the Carnarvon Aboriginal community to discuss the future of Gwoonwardu Mia. Based on community feedback the Minister agreed to reopen the centre.
The GDC commenced on-ground management of the facility in the short term.
In April 2019, the Minister announced the State Government would allocate $2.5 million towards the reopening of Gwoonwardu Mia, for operational costs over a three-year period, and the Western Australian Museum (WAM) would manage the facility.
The centre was reopened in November 2019 by Hon. David Templeman Minster for Culture and the Arts and Hon. Alannah MacTiernan Minister for Regional Development.
The Western Australian Museum’s management of Gwoonwardu Mia has developed the centre into an important hub in the Gascoyne for cultural, business and tourism development in the Aboriginal community, for showcasing Aboriginal art and culture, a place for community and business meetings and a popular site for community events.
WAM consults with the Gwoonwardu Mia Advisory Committee that links Gwoonwardu Mia with the communities it serves. It is a “two-way” liaison: representing the community to Gwoonwardu Mia and acting as an advocate for Gwoonwardu Mia in the community.
The centre houses a permanent collection as well as exhibitions, Artist-in-Resident program, conference and meeting rooms, outdoor event space, an ethnobotanical garden, gallery shop, twilight markets and cafe.
- Burlganyja Wanggaya – Old People Talking. Multi-award winning interactive permanent exhibition that tells the stories of the Gascoyne’s Aboriginal people in their own words and language. The exhibition includes a 33,000 year old shell necklace, images, artefacts and objects, the amazing “Burrowing Bee” or Mungurrgurra film, an interactive light table and a skydome experience.
- Mudlark Jilinbirri Metals. A temporary exhibition by the Jilinbirri Weavers who use traditional materials of grasses and wool, found objects, wire, seeds, banana fibre from local plantations and textiles to weave their artworks. They then translate their woven forms into innovative cast metal objects.
The GDC has collaborated with WAM in the reopening process of Gwoonwardu Mia and has been working with the Aboriginal community and other stakeholders to facilitate the ongoing sustainability of the Centre.