It’s street art time in Benalla, but I had heard that 45 minutes down the road, Shepparton was beginning to celebrate its Indigenous history and had recently unveiled a new wall art portrait of two of the most significant Aboriginal men to come from the area. I hit the road to check it out…….
Shepparton sits on the confluence of the Goulburn and Broken Rivers in Northern Victoria, and is one of Victoria’s most multi-cultural cities. However, it also has a rich Indigenous heritage with the largest population of Aboriginal people outside of Victoria’s capital city Melbourne.
I drive into town on a busy Friday in early Autumn, and the cafes along Fryers Street are bustling with the lunchtime crowds. Finding a carpark in Nixon Street, I walk back to Fryers Street and find the Goulburn Valley water building. On what was once a blank wall on the local water authority building in the CBD, well known artist Adnate has created a striking portrait to the late William Cooper and late Pastor Sir Douglas Nicholls.
Having begun his life as a street artist, Adnate paints large scale murals in the main cities around Australia and the world and is especially drawn to indigenous people and their native lands. Looking at the mural in front of me he has done a magnificent job transforming a blank wall into a wall of art. To find out more about this amazing artist head over to his website https://www.adnate.com.au/
The images of both the late William Cooper and the late Pastor Sir Douglas Nicholls KCVO OBE MBE, proudly look out onto the laneway off Fryers Street and acknowledges and pays respect to both men, who were both leaders who made significant contributions to not just the local region, but more broadly to Australia.
Pastor Sir Douglas Nicholls KCVO OBE MBE, was born 9 December 1906 at the Cummeragunja Reserve and was a prominent Aboriginal from the Yorta Yorta people. Sir Douglas Nicholls was the first Aboriginal person to be knighted, and in 1976 was made Governor of South Australia. He was a celebrated footballer with the Fitzroy Football Club and became a popular player amongst the spectators. More information on Sir Douglas can be found at http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/nicholls-sir-douglas-ralph-doug-14920
William Cooper, was born in 1860 and was an Aboriginal political activist and community leader. William Cooper was a Yorta Yorta man, campaigned for Aboriginal rights, in particularly land. He is also recognised for protesting against the Nazi Government of Germany due to their poor treatment of the Jewish people. William Cooper led a delegation to the German Consulate in Melbourne to deliver a petition which is recognised as the only petition against the Germans following Kristallnacht. More information on William Cooper can be found at: http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/cooper-william-5773
Having admired the artwork, and acknowledging the incredible legacy of these two men, I wander back along Fryers St looking for sustenance. The Lemon Tree Café is bustling and inviting. I wander in and settle in for a late lunch in what is arguably one of the best cafes in town.