Mural captures cultural pride
MUTTONBIRD Island's deep connection with the Coffs Coast's Gumbayngirr community has been highlighted in a new mural painted in the schoolyard of Tyalla Public School.
Students Raiden Hoskins and Blake Mercy were amazed that their hand prints were added to the artwork as the finishing touches by renowned local airbursh artist Lee Holmes.
Lee said the artwork symbolised the importance of Muttonbird Island in local Aboriginal heritage.
"The kids really enjoyed walking past and checking on my progress," Lee said.
"It was a great to paint Muttonbird Island under moonlight."
Lee is famed for his underwater murals on the Sawtell and Woolgoolga headlands and in the playground of Tyalla Public.
Muttonbird Island or Gittain Mirera, as the local Gumbayngirr people named it, is said to be associated with a dreamtime story of the moon falling into the sea.
In traditional times, only male Elders would wade out onto the island, where a huge moon-man guardian kept the muttonbirds on the island for the people to collect food.
The land and waterways, and the plants and animals that live in them, feature in all facets of local Aboriginal culture, including recreational, ceremonial, spiritual and as a main source of food and medicine.
Today those lessons continue to be passed down to younger generations.