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Nitmiluk Exhibition Design

Encompassing an Implementation Strategy and Exhibition Design this interpretive consultancy has been consuming. Awarded in June 2019 the Katherine Gorge project has had many changes over time. Some ideas have been abandoned while others have developed in ways we hadn’t envisioned in the beginning. We are delighted with the outcome!

Cultural identity

A component of the Masterplan project was to develop a cultural identity (brand) for the park, to reflect Jawoyn culture in planned facilities, landscape and interpretation.

These designs were incorporated into the entry statement, signage, walls, fabrics, wayfinding, shelter screens, lookout panels and more.

Mountain Trail Bike hub
Mountain Trail Bike hub


The scope of our consultancy was to research, consult and design, world-class interpretive displays and supporting media for the Nitmiluk Visitor Centre and the Baruwei Cultural Experience.

Planning principles for the production of media and displays for the project included:

  • engaging with Jawoyn, National Park and NT Government stakeholders
  • respecting Jawoyn culture and embedding cultural heritage into the park experiences
  • responding to the needs and expectations of nature based and indigenous tourism target markets
  • providing immersive, exciting experiences and building on unique park qualities
  • upholding environmental conservation and sustainability
  • supporting positive social and economic outcomes for the Jawoyn people and the wider community
  • aligning with the Nitmiluk Plan of Management

Wayfinding and Welcome to Country

Visitor Centre orientation was one of our first tasks, followed by the design of a ‘Welcome to Country’ experience at the approach to the Visitor Centre. This ‘welcome’ pays homage to elders past and present. It includes an immersive soundscape and showcases Jawoyn Country and cultural identity.

Exhibition Design for the Alice Mitchell Gallery

Designing an immersive experience for visitors to showcase the Jawoyn Traditional Owners connection to country has been an incredible journey. The exhibition design included consultation, conceptual through to final designs, fabrication and installation of:

  • Wallpaper
  • Fabrics
  • Rock pillar sculptures
  • Carpet pattern
  • Lighting
  • Audio visual room
  • Jawoyn animal bench seats
  • Signage

Using the Jawoyn seasonal calendar an engaging interpretive display has been installed that reflects the Jawoyn’s connection to country, community and living culture.

Still to be installed are five enormous rock pillars representing the five seasons.

Interpretive elements for the Exhibition Design

  • wallpaper design with rectangular and circular timber stand-off panels depicting the Five Seasons and seasonal events
  • bespoke floor treatment (using carpet tiles) depicting the changing landscape through the seasons
  • engaged with John Van Der Kolk and the team at The Exhibitionist in Darwin to create 5 x 2.4m high gorge pillars with iconic artworks by Jawoyn artists brought to life as huge 3D sculptures. The final touch will be creating a series of small sculptural forms to be placed on the pillars as discoverable and interactive items.
  • engaged with Paul Thompson at Stormcell to create a video depicting the changing seasons for viewing in the AV room of the Visitor Centre
  • sourced acoustic panels to line the AV room ceiling and walls
  • engaged John Van Der Kolk to design and create three large benches based on current Jawoyn artworks.
Carpet tiles used to design bespoke floor of Jawoyn seasons
Bench based on Jawoyn artwork

Baruwei Loop Cultural Experience

In Stage 3 we consulted and designed interpretive media to compliment proposed upgraded facilities for the Baruwei Loop Cultural Experience. First was the design of a series of interpretation hubs. These hubs reflect changes in the landscape as you ascend from the river to the escarpment above. A sculpture trail was planned with concepts and an artist brief. The final component were designs for a series of rail mounted panels were developed. They depict important Creation Stories of the Jawoyn People. These panels will be mounted on three new lookouts that are located on the walk up to the escarpment overlooking the Katherine River.

Digital, Video, Wi-Fi and Map Table

  • provided advice on the design of an interactive map table and digital kiosks to highlight sites of significance across the park, dreaming stories, recreation opportunities, and safety advice.
  • sourced and installed a mini-theatre system including a 98” display screen, centralised control system and remote access for ongoing maintenance and upgrading video material.
  • advised on Wi-Fi requirements for the Visitor Centre to enable accessible App downloads and web access where required
    provided a solution for the lack of network at the Visitor Centre using the InfoPoint System developed in the UK
  • costed for future consideration a mobile application to: replicate all components of park information; ;direct and inform park visits; and as a keepsake of a memorable experience in Nitmiluk National Park

The final piece in this complex puzzle will be a 3D geological model for the exterior wall of the Visitor Centre. It aims to depict and interpret the geological formation of the gorges and escarpment. However, this may have to wait for another day.

Special thanks

We would like to acknowledge and thank our colleagues Fiona Rice and Alex Myles who worked with us during the early planning and concept designs. Their insights gave us a solid platform to develop the current designs over the ensuing year.

Fiona and Alex - Katherine Gorge
Fiona and Alex – Katherine Gorge

The unexpected

At the time of writing it is early January 2021 and COVID-19 has played a significant role in shaping all our lives and the way we work. Our contract will conclude in April 2021, close to one year after the planned completion date. I think back to our time in Papua New Guinea in 2015-16. As you enter the country they tell you…expect the unexpected.

Categories:   Aboriginal, Historical & Heritage, Interpretive Projects, Museum & Exhibition Design, Nature & Tourism, Signage