Indigenous mural featuring native animals and carpet snake unveiled in Caboolture for NAIDOC Week

Published 10:00am 5 July 2022

Indigenous mural featuring native animals and carpet snake unveiled in Caboolture for NAIDOC Week
Words by Ashleigh Howarth

A colourful mural featuring native wildlife and a carpet snake sculpture has been unveiled at the Caboolture Watchhouse in celebration of NAIDOC Week.

The mural was painted by acclaimed Indigenous artist James Doyle – a proud Gubbi Gubbi (Kabi Kabi), Butchella, Iman, Gungarri man - and his family.

At a special unveiling ceremony in Caboolture yesterday, James performed a traditional Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony before he spoke about the artwork in front of a crowd was made up of Elders, police members, politicians, businesses and members of the public.

“It is important for us to share our knowledge with our youth, our brothers and sisters, aunties and uncles, to ensure we keep the art, culture and connectivity to this land alive,” James said.

“Projects like this mural is what keeps us together and keeps our culture strong.

“This mural is all about my experience with The Lore and the Law – Aboriginal law and modern law – because the law is the same wherever you go, and if you disobey the law, there are punishments.”

James, who has a background working in youth detention, hoped the mural painted on the new Caboolture Watchhouse would inspire others to make positive changes in their lives.

Traditional stories on display

Included in the mural are many stories which James wanted to share with the wider community about his culture.

“The mural has many hidden stories in it and most of them are Gubbi Gubbi, and some of them are stories shared to me by other families,” James said.

“One of the key stories in the mural is about mullet season – people all along the coast from Gubbi Gubbi to Butchella Country would hunt the mullet.

“We wouldn’t start the hunt until the sea eagle would come down and grab the first mullet. The sea eagle would see the schools from way up high and watch the strongest school of mullets, and then wait for the weakest ones to come through.

“Once he grabbed mullet from the weakest schools, that was a sign we could then hunt.

“The crane represents the story of men and women, and how the female crane should choose a partner wisely. She would choose a male crane that had all the attributes to be a strong warrior.

“The mountains also recognise all the significant mountains in the Gubbi Gubbi region; the waterlilies and grass trees represent our beautiful women, and the black cockatoo represents the rain.

“We share these stories so non-Indigenous people can share this knowledge too.”

As the name Caboolture is derived from Kabi Kabi words meaning “Place of the Carpet Snake”, a carpet snake sculpture was placed on top of the mural.

The Indigenous Mural and Carpet Snake Sculpture on the watch house wall were made possible as result of a partnership between the Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, Queensland Police, Badge Constructions, Moreton Bay Regional Council, and several Indigenous companies.

The stories visualised by the mural are explained by a booklet, with various words highlighted based on shared words from different Indigenous language groups and shared kinship.

The books will be distributed to local schools.

James has also recently completed another mural near the Heritage Bank at North Lakes Shopping Centre.

Indigenous mural featuring native animals and carpet snake unveiled in Caboolture for NAIDOC Week

Community gathers to celebrate Indigenous culture

Among the people in the crowd at unveiling ceremony was Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Craig Crawford, who said he was delighted to attend the launch of Stories of the Lore and the Law.

“When we think about the storylines of the Black Cockatoo and the Eagle it gives us all, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, a deeper sense of traditional lore,’’ Mr Crawford said.

“It helps us to embrace the vibrant cultures of our First Nations peoples. It is also the hallmark of a reconciled society built on justice, unity and respect.

“I believe wonderful murals like these in the local Kabi Kabi language will assist in promoting language and culture for generations now and to follow.”

The Indigenous Languages Grants program is jointly funded by the Department of Seniors, Disability Services and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships and the Education Department.

State Member for Morayfield, Mark Ryan, also in attendance, welcomed the launch of the new booklet as a companion piece to the Caboolture Watchhouse Mural.

“The artwork is a symbol of unity, illustrating the importance of our community working together to provide a better understanding of one another, as well as promoting stronger working relationships between community groups, community leaders and the policing community.

“This is a fantastic little book that champions local indigenous language and immortalises the story and lore depicted in James’s wonderful artwork,” Mr Ryan said.

“I’m excited to be part of this event and to help launch these terrific showcases of the Caboolture region’s rich First Nations culture.”

Moreton Bay Mayor Peter Flannery, who was unable to attend the unveiling, said it was an important celebration of language and history.

“The artwork aims to promote a greater understanding and unity in our community and will be on public display as part of the new watch house in Caboolture,” he said.

“Council is serious about acknowledging our First Nations people and we are currently preparing a Reconciliation Action Plan.

“We also provided funding in this year’s Budget to install welcome statements at the entrance to each of our libraries in the traditional languages of Moreton Bay’s traditional owners.”

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