In 2016, traditional owners of the land now known as Orara East State Forest, the Gumbaynggirr Nation Elders, granted Forestry Corporation permission to tell the story of Gumgali the black goanna.
Gumbaynggirr people are the garlugun-gi girrwaa, or “first mob” of the Coffs Harbour area. The partnership has resulted in a 400 metre walking track that tells the story of Gumgali through sculpture, mural art, signage and sound – in Gumbaynggirr language, a language still strong today. Gumgali Track was developed in collaboration with Gumbaynggirr Elders, local artists and designers.
At the Korora Lookout carpark, visitors are greeted with interpretive signage telling the Story of Gumgali, and the forest environment provides the context for the visitor experience along the walk.
A series of public art sculptures lead visitors along the track to the lookout. The sculptures have been crafted from locally grown Brushbox, Tallowwood and Ironbark timbers, both tactile and beautiful. The first sculpture reflects the landscape in a 3 metre high timber monolith with carved relief. Visitors are encouraged to interact with the second sculpture along the track, known colloquially as “postcards” due to its perfectly positioned viewing frames in the timber; a great opportunity for Instagram users to instantly frame and share their experience with the world. Further along the 400 metre walking track, a Tallowwood seat provides a picturesque rest stop on the way to the lookout, whilst a life-like goanna sculpture rests in the bush along the track.
Local artists Snarly and Yowa have been collaborating on walls and cross pollinating graffiti culture with Gumbaynggirr culture, a mix of the old and the new, for some time. Their stunning murals along the track tell the Gumgali story, combining contemporary patterns with graffiti-style in sharing the Gumbaynggirr culture.
Upon arrival at Korora Lookout, visitors can take in the breathtaking north coast ocean views from tree-shaded seating or a sunny viewing deck. The ocean, or gaagal, is very important to the Gumbaynggirr people. It is here at the lookout that the story of Gumgali can be listened to at the “sound bar” in Gumbaynggirr language, sharing a local story that has been passed down through generations of people using these forests, in a language that is still strong today.
NSW forests contain a rich history of Aboriginal cultural heritage following centuries of skilful management by traditional landowners. Today, Forestry Corporation works closely with local Aboriginal land councils and traditional owners to protect and manage Aboriginal cultural heritage and significant sites and create sustainable partnerships with the Aboriginal community.
Korora Lookout featuring The Story of Gumgali can be found in Orara East State Forest, on the Scenic Drive up to Sealy Lookout, just north of Coffs Harbour.
Travel north on the Pacific Highway and take the “Sealy Lookout” turn off just past the Big Banana. Follow the winding road up through banana plantations and scenic views until you reach the Orara East State Forest. Turn left at The Gap and follow the road up to Korora Lookout carpark.
When you’ve finished enjoying Korora Lookout, don’t forget to drive 500 metres up the road to Sealy Lookout and the famous Forest Sky Pier.
Cost: Your visit to NSW State Forests is absolutely free.
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The Story of Gumgali
Jalumbaw yarrang Gumgaliyu nyaawang niigarrin biguurr-garri waruungga juluumba.
Long ago that Gumgali saw men with spears high in the mountains.
“Galang, Yaam ngaya wambi. Ngaya yaarri yarraang giili,” yirraang Gumgaliyu.
“Oh gosh, I’m scared. I’m outta here now,” said Gumgali.
“Ngaaja yaanggu jaliija wajaada gaagalgu waalgaw yarrang muniim barrway manggarla.”
“I’ll go underground to the ocean and push that big rock ahead of me.”
Yaarrigay yarrang Gumgali burraabading gaagala. Wanaawang niigarrin wajaada.
And then Gumgali arrived at the ocean, leaving the men behind on the land.