The Invisible Wandjina of Coode Hill
Saturday August 15th 2009
My life is getting more and more frantic the closer I get to my trip to the UK for Ali's wedding (I have mentioned that on here before, right?). It's madness at work, and madness at home as I try and get things sorted to jet out in the early hours of Monday next week (that is the Monday after the next Monday - we really need some more precise time-based terminology in this language).
Anyway I had reason today to think about the Wandjinna of Coode Hill. So I went looking for it.
Coode Hill is what I call the fairly impressive rise on Coode Street between Broun Avenue and Railway Parade in Bayswater. I don't think it has an official title, but I'm all for giving local names to local features. As such I regard Coode Hill to be an outflung western arm of the Collier Hills, overlooking the Chisholm Valley and the Meltham Basin (names you won't find on any map). Coode Hill is fairly impressive - rising a good 20 metres (65 odd feet) above the surrounding landscape, and its eastern side is particularly impressive, the hill having been carved out to make a nice, flat cricket pitch at Hillcrest Reserve. This cliff was the location of the Wandjina.
What's a Wandjina you ask? Well, for the last few years, someone (or more likely a number of someones) has been painting Wandjinas all over the northern suburbs. Wandjinas are the ancestral creator spirits of several Aboriginal nations up in the northwest, and are famously depicted in sacred rock art sites throughout the Kimberly. The mysterious artist has been adding them to walls, bins, rocks and even trees scattered all around the place. This has caused a fair bit of debate and consternation within the Aboriginal community - according to some Elders the Wandjina is a sacred symbol and should not be painted by anyone who hasn't been properly initiated. Other people (such as myself) have watched on with interest, and kept an eye out for new ones - there are quite a few sets of them on Flickr.
In any case, the biggest Wandjina I've seen was either daubed or painted on the slopes of Coode Hill for a while. I know this because although I never saw it with my own eyes, it was clearly visible on Google Maps.
So today I went to take another look at it, and maybe post a screenshot of it to my Flickr account, only to discover that it was gone! Removed in the latest update of imagery - which I have to admit does a much better job of showing the local area.
So, the Wandjina is lost. I tried looking for it in the historic imagery in Google Earth, but no dice. It has disappeared completely. Boo!!
That's about all I've got to say. Depending on how crazy the next week is my next post may well be from merry olde Englande.
(PS: Aha! Someone else got it!)