Indigenous Interpretive Garden project now underway

DJAARA (the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation) and its enterprise DJANDAK came together in February for a breaking ground ceremony at the site of Maryborough’s new Indigenous Interpretive Garden, together with the Central Goldfields Shire Council and funding partners.

Jointly funded by the Victorian Government and Council, the Garden will sit alongside the Central Goldfields Art Gallery in the open space on the corner of Neill and Campbell Streets.

Dja Dja Wurrung Group CEO Rodney Carter said the Garden has been designed collaboratively with Dja Dja Wurrung Elders and artists who formed a wartaka or advisory group.

“Through this collaboration, Dja Dja Wurrung People are sharing culture with the broader community: weaving their story and reflecting the natural elements of Dja Dja Wurrung Country,” Mr Carter said.

“Practising Culture is healing for Dja Dja Wurrung People and creating this space will help the healing of ‘upside-down Country’.

"The Garden will strengthen relationships between people and Country and provide opportunities for non-Indigenous community members to learn about Aboriginal Cultural Heritage and our shared responsibility to protect it,” Mr Carter said.

The Garden will be a public place inviting the whole community to come together in a spirit of reconciliation to understand and celebrate culture.

Central Goldfields Shire Mayor Cr Liesbeth Long said it was fantastic to see such a significant project for the Shire, on Dja Dja Wurrung Country, reach the next exciting stage.

“I think what sets this project apart from others is the partnership that has formed between Council and DJAARA. We’ve been working on this project since October 2021 and at the heart of this project is the principle of listening and working together with the Traditional Owners of the land we are on.

Our vision is that the Garden will be a welcoming space for our local community and visitors to our Shire to come and reflect, learn and share culture as part of an active and engaged approach to reconciliation. I’m looking forward to seeing the project transpire over the coming months.”

Once complete, the Indigenous Interpretive Garden will be accessible via the Gallery and a separate street entrance. The project is expected to be complete mid-2024.

Gallery redevelopment now complete

The redeveloped Central Goldfields Art Gallery was officially re-opened in March 2023.

The Victorian Government, together with Council, invested $2.28 million to the upgrade which saw one of the Shire’s most significant assets refurbished and extended.

Project architect Nervegna Reed successfully merged the historic elements of a 19th century fire station with the contemporary standards for presentation of visual art to deliver an inspiring modern public gallery.

Providing multiple opportunities to engage, even before stepping inside, the building now opens its arms wide and encourages interaction and dialogue with visitors and community.

Framing views to an Indigenous Interpretive Garden (to be delivered as part of stage 2 and 3 of the project in 2024) that will reference locally significant cultural sites and traditional fire practices, the space is anchored to its environment. From the inside, there are further opportunities to look up and out, with the result that it is expansive and optimistic.

The Gallery re-opened with the first headline exhibition of its 2023 program – Ladder to the Stars: Dean Bowen Sculptures – as well as the annual Community Art exhibition and works from the permanent collection.

Central Goldfields Shire Mayor Cr Grace La Vella said Council was thrilled to see the Gallery re-opened.

“Thanks to Victorian Government funding, our Gallery now has new opportunities to present a greater variety of leading artists and exhibitions in a “state of the art” gallery for the community and the wider region. Notwithstanding the growing visitation to this area and as a result gaining even more tourism momentum within our district into the future, yet another quality attractor for our proposed suite of tourism highpoints in Central Goldfields Shire”.

Central Goldfields Art Gallery Coordinator Helen Kaptein said our redeveloped Gallery is a space we can all be proud of.

“We’re delighted to be opening the doors with the Ladder to the Stars: Dean Bowen Sculptures exhibition. Dean Bowen was born in Maryborough and is now a renowned artist both nationally and internationally.

“The exhibition explores human potential and growth. It comprises 35 sculptures grouped around themes of animals, young people, hope and possibility – which makes this an extremely fitting exhibition through which to launch the redeveloped Gallery.

“Visitors are encouraged to enjoy and explore the redeveloped Gallery and view artworks from the Gallery’s permanent collection in a stunning new space along with a celebration of local creativity showcased in the popular, annual Community Art exhibition.”

The Central Goldfields Art Gallery is open Thursdays to Sundays from 10am to 4pm. Entry is free and all are welcome.

For more information visit

The newly redeveloped Central Goldfields Art Gallery

During the construction stage

Central Goldfields Art Gallery concept design

What did the redevelopment include?

The redevelopment project is one of Council's Priority Projects and a key item in the Events and Tourism Strategies.

The redevelopment includes:

  • New welcoming front entrance
  • New reception area
  • Indigenous interpretative garden
  • Extended and modernised main exhibition gallery
  • Upgraded lighting system
  • New environmental controls to enable the loan of art works from larger galleries
  • New permanent collection gallery and smaller exhibition spaces
  • Upgraded and expanded central access ramp
  • Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) compliant access
  • DDA and public toilets
  • Small kitchen to support gallery openings and programs
  • New collection store
  • Workshop area for public programming
  • Improved administration space for gallery staff and volunteers
  • Re-instated link to town hall
  • New loading dock for bus parking and exhibition deliveries
  • New external courtyards and landscaped areas, including the streetscape interface
  • Replacement of existing hanging ceilings with exposed rafters
  • New skylights to introduce light and views to the historic fire tower

The project will support the Central Goldfields Art Gallery to:

  • Increase the range (breadth) of works exhibited, display a growing collection and attract touring exhibitions of significant cultural merit and worth to the community.
  • Increase the number of community members engaged in cultural and educational activities.
  • Increase opportunities for local people to develop their creative skills and to exhibit work in a state of the art, regionally significant exhibition space.
  • Increase capacity for additional visitor numbers through improved amenity and better use of space.
Central Goldfields Art Gallery concept design