Walk with Art and Sole

Art and Sole has been in the process for over a year now and will finally launch on 12 October. Pictures: STEWART CHAMBERS. 299817_11

By Mikayla van Loon

A new walking tour of Lilydale has offically launched, inviting people to put on their most comfortable shoes and head out into the natural environment this spring.

The team from Lilydale’s community health service, Inspiro, helped create Art and Sole, an artistic walking route starting at Poyner Reserve and weaving around the neighbourhood in a creative celebration of First Nations culture and local history.

With paths linking to walking tracks like the Warburton Rail Trail and Lillydale Lake, the connectivity is easily accessible and draws attention to what the suburb has to offer.

Inspiro health promotion officer Megan McInerney said the project aims to encourage physical activity, education and a sensory experience for residents and visitors to the Beresford Road area.

“If you’re interested in art, you’d be interested in it. If you’re interested in health and well being you would be interested in it and if you’re interested in history, you’d be interested in it. So it covers a lot of bases and appeals to a lot of people,” she said.

Wurundjeri elder Aunty Kim Wandin was the artist behind the aluminium sculpture ‘Bour-deet’ positioned within Poyner Reserve, representing the ‘Cumbungi’ or the bulrush plant that grows in the creek bed just metres away.

Traditionally used by Wurundjeri tribes as a food source and for basket weaving, Ms McInerney said Aunty Kim still goes on Country to harvest Cumbungi and use the techniques that have been passed down through generations.

“It’s a really beautiful story that she’s incorporated that tradition and ancestry of hers and it’s a beautiful legacy for her,” she said.

For Yarra Ranges Council’s Indigenous Advisory Committee (IAC), being involved in a project that celebrates First Nations history and cultural identity means there’s more representation in the local area.

“There has been little to no visibility of Indigenous culture in the community, this project is helping to address that,” an IAC spokesperson said.

Ms McInerney said Bour-deet is just one component of the project, with seven other wayfinding signs positioned around the residential and industrial streets near Beresford Road.

Featuring QR codes on each sign, it will take people directly to a landing page displaying “the cultural narratives and historical narratives.”

“So we have two different versions of history from the region and they’re quite site specific,” Ms McInerney said.

Employing the skills of the Lilydale Historical Society, with guidance from president Sue Thompson, Inspiro was able to have local knowledge incorporated in the project, as well as photographs from throughout history.

Senior Wurundjeri elder Aunty Doreen Garvey-Wandin also shared stories of her people and ancestors to create that cultural perspective.

The idea behind this collaborative project between Yarra Ranges Council and Inspiro came from the concern that people within the high density living areas were choosing cars over walking even when in such close proximity to major amenities.

“The mapping from [Yarra Ranges] Council showed this is going to be quite a high density living area, so we’re just trying to get people in this area to be up and out and walking and not using their cars.

“We know that lots of people who live really close to the station will drive rather than walk and it’s encouraging them to know it’s under 800 metres for you to walk to the station and it’s good for your health, it’s good for the environment.”

Having consulted with local residents and other members of the community, Ms McInerney said it became clear people felt there was “nothing exciting to look at”.

“A lot of the consultations said it was aesthetically unpleasing, there’s nothing that invites you to be out walking.

“To have something that’s nice to look at or something interesting to read or to listen to as you’re walking around the neighbourhood, that was one of the goals too.

“We just want people to come out and enjoy it. It’ll be a beautiful community initiative that everybody can enjoy.”

Poyner Reserve is located on the corner of Beresford and Cave Hill Roads in Lilydale. Visitors are encouraged to start or end here to enjoy a picnic and the playground.