Wominjeka wonguim wilam
by SANDI MILLER
10th October 2022
THE RAIN held off as Manningham Councillors and Officers, past and present, gathered along with State Government representatives and community members, young and old, to officially open the completed wonguim wilam park and playspace at Warrandyte.
Translated as Boomerang Place, wonguim wilam connects Warrandyte township to the river, with picnic facilities, exercise equipment, and an adventure playground.
Five years in the making, the project began with the decommissioning of the former Lions’ tennis courts for the widening of the Warrandyte Bridge in 2017.
What were some disused courts, a small picnic area and a 20-year-old playground — serviced by a rudimentary car park — has transformed into a real village green with places to walk, sit, and picnic.
There are performance and exhibition spaces and a children’s wonderland, all of which embrace Warrandyte’s indigenous heritage, arts culture, and connection to the environment.
The park was opened by Manningham Mayor Michelle Kleinert and Member for Eastern Metro, Sonja Terpstra.
“Five years it’s taken for this project to finally be open, and about two and a half million dollars has been spent here over that time,” said Cr Kleinert.
Cr Kleinert paid tribute to the Lions Club of Warrandyte, who had managed the tennis courts for almost 40 years and donated $45,000 for the fitness stations installed under the bridge.
Sadly, the Welcome to Country that was planned had to be cancelled due to the ill health of Auntie Doreen from the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Corporation, who was slated to attend the opening.
Cr Kleinert thanked the Woi Wurrung for their support and guidance throughout the naming process.
She said Council was honoured to receive the Excellence in Place Naming award for its naming of wonguim wilam.
“This award recognised our engagement with the community, acknowledgement of the first nations cultural heritage of the area, and a celebration of traditions and of traditional owner language,” she said.
Cr Kleinert acknowledged that the artwork used on the park’s signage was produced by First Nations artist Ash Firebrace and said Council are working with another first Nations artist to produce additional artwork, which will be installed later in the year.
“The community has also contributed to the artwork, with colourful ceramic leaves on the shelter at the bridge, and in the new playspace, the waterplay area is lined with colourful pebbles.
“These were all created at the Warrandyte Pottery Expo earlier this year, and they look absolutely brilliant,” she said.
Cr Kleinert thanked the many other contributors to the park’s development, including the State Government, Warrandyte Historical Society, DEWLP, Melbourne Water, and Landscape Architect JMAC.
Valerie Polley of the Warrandyte Historical Society told the Diary that the society was pleased to be one of the community groups consulted by Manningham Council and involved in the planning process of wonguim wilam.
“It is wonderful to see the area being very well patronised and the playground being extremely popular.
“The new historic signs display the Society’s logo in recognition of its input into the planning process and provision of information,” Ms Polley said.
Cr Kleinert also commended the passion and dedication many Council Officers had put towards the project over the past five years.
“They have worked so hard and put so much passion and love into this, and so when you use it, know that people have done it for us all, and we are going to benefit from it for years to come,” Cr Kleinert said.
Sonja Terpstra said the area has long been one of Manningham’s most popular places.
“It is a wonderful tourist destination because the river here is a beautiful spot to come and enjoy and sit by the river, but also participate more broadly in all the things this wonderful space has to offer — it’s a beautiful link between the town and the Yarra River.”
She said it had been a pleasure to work with Manningham Council on this project by way of a $300,000 parks revitalisation grant.
“We always get the best benefits when different levels of government work cooperatively together — this is an example of that — and this is what we can achieve when we work well together.
“So, I’d like to congratulate Manningham Council for working with the community to design and complete this wonderful, revitalisation space, I think that community consultation has been very successful, and as you can see, it’s a testament to what we see here today,” Ms Terpstra said.
Yarra Ward Councillor Carli Lange said the space was a truly community-designed playspace.
“This wasn’t just a project that Council said, ‘let’s do it’, we partnered with the WCA, the Warrandyte Lions Club, the Warrandyte Historical Society and the local Aboriginal Elders, and this, the design in all its stages, was a combination of all of their feedback and ideas and has become a space that really is by the community and for the community’s benefit.”
The Diary contacted Lions Club of Warrandyte for their thoughts on the development of the site and the completion of wonguim wilam, but the club could not provide comment before we went to print.