Toorale National Park

Understanding and communicating the layered history and the natural values of this place through sculptural and digital interpretation in collaboration with Traditional Owners

NSW Government Office of Environment and Heritage

This project won the National Trust Heritage Award for Interpretation and Education, 2015.

Toorale National Park, southwest of the township of Bourke in northwestern NSW, comprises of 91,000 hectares of land with frontages to the Darling and Warrego Rivers. Trigger engaged with stakeholders, including the traditional land owners, the Kurnu-Baarkandji, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, and the Aboriginal Joint Management Committee, to develop an Interpretation and Revitalisation Strategy. Following that, Trigger created an extensive suite of sculptural and digital interpretives, located across the park, and implemented over 3 years to create an experience that inspires and engages visitors. Content and design involved close collaboration with the Kurnu-Baarkandji people.

The era of the paddlesteamers, which used the Darling as a route to transport goods, is evoked by a sculptural piece which features the image of a paddlesteamer on laser cut corten steel, which appears to float on the rippling water of the Darling. This is a playful way to communicate the experience of this once busy transport corridor of puffing paddlesteamers.

Listen to the perspectives from Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people connected to this place.

A series of bespoke cast bronze plaques installed on the summit of Mt Talowla interpret this landmark’s history as a vantage point for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people to look out across the land. The piece features artwork by Badger Bates, a Kurnu-Baarkandji Elder. The interpretation is installed at ground level to communicate the importance of the shared earth and the landscape – we must bend to it, not it to us.

Interpretives on the Darling River focus on the river and its central importance for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people historically and today, offering different perspectives and uses of the river.

The homestead precinct is the interpretive point of arrival for visitors to the park and features the once lavish homestead building, now in decline. Visitors are not permitted entry to the homestead due to its dilapidated condition. The challenge was to create a compelling sense of arrival for the park and fulfilling interpretation of the structure whilst preventing access to protect the fragile building and the safety of visitors. We decided to transform the idea of the barrier itself into the interpretive experience. The ‘fence’ is dissolved and becomes a compelling learning and entertaining experience.

Inscribed quotes by Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people, of their experiences of the Homestead and its surrounds, render their voices in the landscape.

Large scale corten and vitreous enamel sculptural panels are positioned in an arc to preserve views to the Homestead. The panels’ content and positioning tell the stories of the ‘front of house’, which was inhabited by station owners and their families as well as the venue for formal receptions, and the ‘back of house’, which is where working gardens were located and the area most familiar to the station workers.

Elements of the once lush gardens that surrounded the homestead have been interpreted through sculptural interventions.

The features of garden and the homestead door are interpreted through 2 corten and timber sculptures that are experienced by the visitor along a pathway that leads from the carpark. Trigger created a comprehensive staged implementation plan for all project components. Each piece is crafted by skilled artisans with precise attention to detail. The project was extremely successful creatively, operationally and from a budget perspective.

We brought to life the grounds of the homestead as well as the building itself through innovative interpretation. Trigger’s role involved consultation, collection, selection and development of interpretive content, design and production, as well as the fabrication and installation of all components.