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Wollongong City Council

Update on the artworks at Hooka Point Jetty and Footbridge

Thursday 1 June 2023

Image: Hooka Point in Berkeley is a significant place for many people.

It’s almost 20 years since Wollongong City Council worked with local Aboriginal communities, the Berkeley community and the (then) Lake Illawarra Authority to develop Hooka Park as a place of healing and wellbeing.

In the years since, this popular space has been enjoyed by many but, sadly, the timber deck of the jetty has been weathered and damaged by the environment.

Right now, Wollongong City Council is getting closer to finishing the work to replace of the ageing timber deck at the jetty and footbridge at Hooka Point, Berkeley. We’re also working with local artists to repair and maintain as many of the existing artworks as possible.

Image: Aerial photo of the existing timber deck.

Wollongong City Lord Mayor Councillor Gordon Bradbery AM said the original project in 2004 recognised the area’s important Aboriginal heritage and incorporated community involvement in the design of several sculptures and artworks. In total more than 300 participants and 14 organisations were involved in the project.

“This is an important area to the local Aboriginal community and a space treasured by many local community members who have come to enjoy that part of the lake. It is a place to enjoy a pleasant walk, to connect with nature and acknowledge the area’s significant Aboriginal heritage,’’ Cr Bradbery said.

“Over the years the deck had become quite unstable. The refurbishment project will replace the decking with a more durable fibreglass reinforced mesh which will make the area safer and more stable for years to come."

Image: Aunty Lorraine Brown, Aunty Narelle Thomas and artist James Middleton are working on a new mural that will remember the original carvings.

“Where we can, we are working with the artists to preserve and repair as much of the existing artwork as possible. Unfortunately, because we’re replacing the deck, some of the original carvings will be impacted by the refurbishment.

“We’ve consulted with the lead artists, Celeste Coucke, Ana Pollak, Aunty Lorraine Brown and Aunty Narelle Thomas, and they have given permission for the deck artworks to be decommissioned.”

Council is working with Aunty Lorraine Brown, Aunty Narelle Thomas and artist James Middleton to design a new mural that will be painted on the shared pathway that will replace the original carvings. The mural will include new elements that reinterpret the motifs from the original deck carvings.

At the same time artists Celeste Coucke and Ana Pollak are repairing and re-carving the beautiful handrail which was originally created in 2004 by local community members. The handrail has been beautifully re-carved, and the mosaic inlay reset.

Image: Over time the handrail has been weathered by the environment.

The original benches will also be repaired and reinstalled in the pavilion at the end of the jetty.

“Because this is such a culturally significant area, we’re keen to invest in its preservation and ongoing legacy. One of the ways we’re doing this is by commissioning a new artwork,” Kerry Hunt, Wollongong City Council Director Community Services, said.

“Nowra-based artist, and Jerrinja/Jeringa Wandi-Wandian elder, Uncle Noel Wellington has been asked to carve two new benches for the jetty viewing platform. Community members will be able to admire the new carved benches once we reopen the jetty and footbridge.”

Works on the refurbishment of Hooka Point jetty and footbridge are expected to be complete by mid-2023, subject to weather conditions.

Image: The stone bench reads "Ngaraba - Aan.  Past. Present. Future".

“This is quite a big project with many moving parts. Not only are we repairing the footbridge and jetty, but we’re also taking pains to preserve, repair and reinstall as much of the original artworks as possible,” Ms Hunt said.

“That means it will take some time to complete everything. Once we’re done, we’ll invite the community to celebrate the reopening of the precinct. For now, thank you for your patience as we work hard to get this right.”

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