Boolah-Dillah Aboriginal Sculpture Trail
Bulahdelah Mountain is an Aboriginal Place in recognition of the cultural spiritual and historical significance of the area to the Worimi People. An Aboriginal sculpture trail with carved trees now marks this Worimi Place. They are a reminder to people walking by that this is a special area, a message that Boolah-Dillah Mountain is a significant place.
In 2017, a series of sculpture workshops were held at the Land Council to develop skills in carving, create sculpture for the mountain and provide economic opportunities. Forestry Corporation provided small logs from one of its sustainable harvesting operations and tools. Sculptor John Van Der Kolk shared his expertise with the community over a number of workshops. The sculpture workshops evolved to carrying out contemporary tree carving, a traditional practice, creating a unique visitor experience on the mountain. Young people and Elders developed the designs which tell cultural stories with young people learning skills in carving and reconnecting with traditional skills.
For thousands of years the Aboriginal people of central, north-western and north coast of NSW have carved trees as a form of artistic and cultural expression. Whenever you see a picture of an Aboriginal carved tree, it’s more than likely from NSW. Ronald Briggs and Melissa Jackson Carved trees: Aboriginal cultures of Western NSW 2011
In the landscape there are both carved and scarred trees present today. Carved trees are unique and expressive forms of communication and were used as markers for burials, safe travelling paths, boundaries and had an important role in ceremony. Scarred trees are what was left after the bark was removed from a tree for use as burial wraps, canoes, coolamons, shelters and shields. Scarred trees are prominent in our landscape. Carved trees however are very rare due to them being destroyed and removed.
Collaboration for sculpture trail
Working in collaboration with Forestry Corporation, Karuah Local Aboriginal Land Council and Sculptor John Van Der Kolk ensured a wonderful outcome for this project.