New Epping opens first park enriched with Wurundjeri knowledge and culture

New Epping has officially opened its first high-impact, small footprint community park designed in consultation with the site’s Traditional Owners, the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung of the Kulin Nation, with a community event and smoking ceremony to celebrate the occasion.

Taking its name from the Woi-wurrung language and meaning ‘banksia play,’ the 1,760m2 public park – woorike jellicka – is a central meeting place for the Stage 1 residents and workers, preserving Wurundjeri knowledge and culture while also promoting discovery and connection.

Co-designed with  Wurundjeri representatives including Senior Wurundjeri Elder Aunty Joy Murphy-Wandin AO and Craig Murphy, woorike jellicka represents Riverlee’s commitment to working with the Wurundjeri to embed stories, knowledge and culture into the development.

“The design and naming of the park came to life through a series of workshops with Wurundjeri Elders, which uncovered important opportunities to weave local Traditional Owners’ stories and culture into the project,” says Riverlee project director Ben Rowe.

“As new Epping evolves, we are committed to enriching the masterplan with Wurundjeri narratives, inspiring the wider community to engage with Wurundjeri culture and language as they have the opportunity to do at woorike jellicka,” Rowe says.

Key design features and facilities of the park include a shared path, seating areas and a nature-themed playground with a custom play structure comprising timber platforms, slides, custom nets, a firefighter pole, a swing set and flying fox. The landscape architecture of woorike jellicka also celebrates the significance of the Silver Banksia and other local flora and fauna in Wurundjeri culture.

“The banksia element was further developed in the landscape design of the park, including the animals that live in and feed off the banksia. It was Aunty Joy’s idea to involve Wurundjeri children and have them draw the banksia and animals, which are now incorporated throughout the park,” says Greenshoot Consulting principal Jeremy Gaden, who partnered with Riverlee to lead engagement with the Traditional Owners at New Epping.

A community event and smoking ceremony led by Aunty Joy was recently held to celebrate the opening of woorijke jellicka, where families from New Epping and beyond enjoyed a day of entertainment and exploration. Key dignitaries at the event included Bronwyn Halfpenny MP, Emma Appleton, director of planning and development, City of Whittlesea and Shaune Gillespie, CEO, Northern Private Hospital.

Initially slated to be a road reserve, Riverlee worked with the City of Whittlesea to convert the site into a park for the New Epping community. woorike jellicka provides amenity for the Stage 1 residents and workers and the surrounding community as the final milestone in a package of building works that were fast tracked by the state government post pandemic, delivering $194M of building works.

The park kicks off a host of other precinct-defining leisure, wellness and hospitality highlights at New Epping, complemented by Grounders Café which recently opened and the Northern Private Hospital, which is set to open in early 2024 as part of the development’s health, wellness and knowledge precinct.

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