28 September 2022

How a slow trip to the coast can help bushfire recovery

| Sally Hopman
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Four people standing outdoors

Regeneration Roadtrip project artists Joan Cornish, Kathleen McCann, Louise Morris and Matthew Scott. Photo: Navigate Arts.

Do you feel driven to help those hit hardest by the Black Summer bushfires but don’t know where to begin? How about Canberra, for starters?

You’re invited to take part in Regeneration Roadtrip, a journey from Canberra down to the Far South Coast, but a journey, despite the number of times you might have completed it, like no other.

The brainchild of Navigate Arts, supported by South East Arts and funded through the NSW Government’s Bushfire Community Recovery and Resilience Fund, the Regeneration Roadtrip invites travellers to take a multi-arts-interactive journey, starting from this Thursday, 29 September, and running until Sunday, 9 October. The idea is to revisit these communities and support their return to post-fires – and pandemic – life.


Follow this journey from Canberra down to the South Coast and reconnect with communities that need your support. Photo: Supplied.

Artistic Director of Navigate Arts Louise Morris said all the artists involved in the project had a connection to Canberra as well as the South Coast.

“With most of us, it was that long childhood connection with going down the Coast, so after the fires, we wanted to do something to help,” she said.

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The trip is all about caring for Country – being aware of where you live, where you travel and what needs your care. It’s also about the past. By returning to the towns and villages and supporting their businesses, you will be supporting a return to normalcy that can only benefit the whole region.

“When the 2019 Black Summer fires hit, so many of us in the region felt powerless and bereft about the destruction of the beautiful places we held dear,” Regeneration Roadtrip project artist Joan Cornish said.

“As a group of artists living between Canberra and the Far South Coast, we came together to try to find a way to help voice the emerging tidal wave of feeling and give back to the communities that are hurting.”

Six people standing near the sea

The artists behind the Regeneration Roadtrip: Judith Crispin, Louise Morris, Stephen Harrison, Warren Foster Jr, Michael Simic and Joan Cornish. Photo: Navigate Arts.

She said the artists did not want to focus on what was lost. Rather, “the project began to unearth and celebrate the deep connection between the people and the landscapes, animals and plants of this special region”.

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The idea is for drivers to travel the route they are familiar with, but with a different focus – and a little slower. They’ll be invited to collect postcards along the way and to leave their thoughts, memories or feelings about the particular place at special post boxes along the way.

“As you snake your way from Canberra down the Kings Highway, revisit old favourites like Pooh’s Corner and Nelligen,” Joan said.

But motorists, she suggested, should also be on the lookout for new, sometimes hidden installations along the Princes Highway at Mogo, Moruya and Tuross River.

“Listen via the soundtrack to one of the 25 specially commissioned poets read their work as the journey both along the coast from Bodalla and into the hinterland.

“Take the opportunity to experience quiet moments and artworks at destinations like Gulaga, Bermagui, Wallaga Lake, Cobargo and Quaama.

“Enjoy the single lane bridges as you approach Tanja, take in the diverse landscapes and community installation around Tathra, Wyndham and Towamba while enjoying a wonderful soundtrack featuring local musicians – all the way to Eden.”

Two musicians performing

Regeneration Roadtrack soundtrack designer Michael Simic records the work with Stephen Fitzgerald at Four Winds studio, Barraga Bay, Bermagui. Photo: Navigate Arts.

Louise Morris said the brains behind the project included sculptors, painters, musicians, and visual and traditional artists, all of whom had worked together before.

“We’re collaborative artists; that’s how the vision for the road trip evolved,” she said. “We all fell in love with the idea and worked to our individual strengths to make it happen.”

A highlight of the road trip will be an exhibition of artworks, Mortal Coils and Walking Shadows, a memorial to all the wildlife lost during the 2019 bushfires. It will feature the works of Judith Nangala Crispin and Stephen Harrison at Navigate Arts in Tanja.

People interested in taking part in the road trip are invited to log on to the website and then click on the place they’re interested in to see what’s happening, where and when.

Original Article published by Sally Hopman on Riotact.

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