Back in Mackay – planning the Botanic Gardens Land Art Project

sugar cane in wollongong

Kim and I are back in Mackay briefly this week. The image above shows a little something I’ve been growing since our last visit: sugar cane in my vegie garden in Wollongong! Took a while to germinate, but seems quite happy in its multi-species environment…

This week we’ve got a packed schedule of meetings to work out some of the preliminary details for our project at the Mackay Regional Botanic Gardens, and to continue learning about the social, economic and environmental circumstances surrounding sugar in Queensland. (A rough outline of the proposed project is here.)

Here’s what’s on:

  • We’ll be meeting with Starrett Vea Vea and members from the Australian South Sea Islander community at their hut on site at the gardens;
  • We’ll of course spend some time with Richard and Simone at the Botanic Gardens to carry on our conversation about how the project overall;
  • We have also invited some of the community stakeholder groups at the Botanic Gardens to meet with us to talk about the project (Friends of the Botanic Gardens, Society for Growing Australian Plants, BirdLife Mackay, and the Horticulture Reference Group) and we very much hope that they will take up the opportunity to get involved;
  • On Friday we’ll sit down with George Tonga, an Aboriginal Elder recommended to us by the folks at the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service. We want to pay our respects to the traditional owners of the land that on which the project is sited, and learn more about the histories and cultures of this country;
  • We’re going to meet a videographer to discuss the production of a short documentary about the project, as well as storyteller extraordinaire Kim Kleidon;
  • John Sweet has organised for us to visit the Mayor Greg Williamson at the Mackay Council offices;
  • …and John has booked some time with federal MP George Christenson (who has been weighing in on the tricky negotiations between large international cane milling company Wilmar and cane growers);
  • We’ll pop in on the Artspace Mackay Gallery to check out the space and continue working towards our exhibition in 2019;
  • …and we’ll catch up with with Fiona Vuibeqa – one of the Arts Development Officers at the Mackay Council – to update her about our progress.

We’d like to hear from anyone interested to get involved in the project. If we don’t have time to meet on our visit this week, we’ll arrange to catch up next time we’re in Mackay (mid year).