Welcoming visitors onto traditional land at the Ballarat Information Centre

Generic image of mural and people

First Nations artist Deanne Gilson and City of Ballarat Mayor Cr Des Hudson in front of the Acknowledgment of Country mural in the Ballarat Visitor Information Centre

The City of Ballarat has officially unveiled an artistic Acknowledgement of Country in the Ballarat Town Hall’s Visitor Information Centre, created by local First Nations artist Deanne Gilson.  

The mural is designed to showcase the deep connection to the flora and fauna of this country to visitors and locals who attend the Visitor Information Centre.

The Visitor Information Centre welcomes approximately 25,000 visitors annually, with even more people visiting the Town Hall for other business. The location is a vital piece of Ballarat’s welcome experience and core to the community.

The mural encompasses the entrance into the Visitor Information Centre, immersing you into a story of Wadawurrung people, consisting of Deanne Gilson’s mother, Aunty Marlene Gilson speaking to her family. This is symbolic of the first Welcome to Country done post settlement as an act of reclamation and Reconciliation of her culture.

Above the doorway depicts crows as ancestors, along with King Billy and Queen Mary of Ballarat at the Black Hill lookout, watching over Ballarat.  

To the right the mural depicts Yarrowee Creek, showing how Wadawurrung people survived living off the land for many generations.  

Finally, above the exit the mural shows thirteen original black swans from Lake Wendouree, and the emu constellation moves through the night sky as well showing the seasons changing.  

First Nations artist Deanne Gilson said these 22 paintings showcase a personal connection to Ballarat and will welcome all to our lands.  

“The mural has a deep family connection to me, showing my mother and extended family, as we gathered during the first Welcome to Country,” she said.  

“The Cultural Tree of Knowledge was created to describe the trees and the stories they hold both past and present, intangible and tangible.”  

The artistic Acknowledgment of Country covers the entire foyer of the Ballarat Visitor Information Centre, reaching six metres high and spanning the four walls. The mural has been installed using 220 metres of vinyl.

As outlined in the City of Ballarat Traveller Experience Plan 2021 – 2024, a core pillar opportunity for Ballarat’s visitor economy was to develop First Peoples product, interpretative signage and storytelling for future visitors in the region. Acknowledging the land on which travellers are visiting is important for the education of visitors to Ballarat.  

City of Ballarat Mayor, Cr Des Hudson said the Visitor Information Centre provides information, directions and storytelling of Ballarat to many visitors and locals every day.

“The Ballarat Town Hall is a vital piece of Ballarat’s welcome experience, and this is an essential first step to supporting and acknowledging our First Nations people,” he said.

The Ballarat Information Centre and the Acknowledgement of Country mural is open 7 days a week, Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 5pm and weekends from 10am to 4pm. The centre also showcases a range of locally sourced products within the Made of: Ballarat shop and welcomes all visitors and locals to enjoy the space.