Wadawurrung artist makes splash around Lake Wendouree

Choose Tap drinking water fountains located around Lake Wendouree, and in the surrounding Botanical Gardens, have taken on a new look in time for this year’s Ballarat Begonia Festival.

The fountains, a collaboration between the City of Ballarat and Central Highlands Water (CHW) showcase the artwork of proud Wadawurrung Traditional Owner, Billy-Jay O’Toole, and will be the first of many to be updated with this stunning reconciliation focused piece across the Central Highlands region.

The featured artwork, Managing Country Together, represents the relationship between CHW and the four registered Aboriginal Parties on which CHW’s catchment extends, being Wadawurrung, Dja Dja Wurrung, Wurundjeri and Barenji Gadjin.

The centrepiece of the artwork is the sun, and the Wadawurrung’s totem, Bunjil. The artwork also features symbology, representing CHW and Traditional Owner corporations. Other elements of the local landscape formations are included along with Eucalyptus leaves, which represent cleansing.

CHW Managing Director, Paul O’Donohue, said the installation is part of CHW’s 2022 Begonia Festival focus of caring for water and Country.

“We’re excited to again be the Community Partner of the Ballarat Begonia Festival and, with the support of the City of Ballarat and Wadawurrung Traditional Owners, take the opportunity to raise awareness and build relationships, partnerships and collaborate with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in our

community to achieve positive outcomes.

“The new Managing Country Together Choose Tap drinking water fountains provide an impactful visual reminder of the many elements of our region, through the eyes of a Traditional Owner,” Mr O’Donohue said.

Wadawurrung Traditional Owner and artist, Billy-Jay O’Toole said it was a real honour to showcase his artwork on the new drinking water fountain design.

“I appreciate Central Highlands Water for providing this opportunity for people to look at, and connect with the artwork and the Country around them, and to recognise that the land they are on Wadawurrung Country,” Mr O’Toole said.

Paul Davis, Chief Executive Office of Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation, highlighted that there are many talented Wadawurrung artists around, including some very well established and renowned, but also some newer and emerging ones.

“It is great to see key organisations like Central Highlands Water promoting the works of Wadawurrung artists, such as Billy-Jay O’Toole in this case,” Mr Davis said.

City of Ballarat Deputy Mayor, Cr Amy Johnson said the water fountain artworks were a unique way of recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the region.

“These beautiful artworks not only convey the significant reconciliation efforts that have been taking place across Ballarat, but also the stunning visual aspects that have deep meaning for our Traditional Owners,” Cr Johnson said.

“The City of Ballarat is proud to once again partner with Central Highlands Water, not only for the Begonia Festival’s 70th birthday, but also the showcasing of this work across our Choose Tap drinking water fountains.”

The Ballarat Begonia Festival will run from 11 March – 20 March 2022. Central Highlands Water’s activation will be live on the Ballarat Botanical Gardens main lawn from Saturday 12 March – Monday 14 March.

Choose Tap reusable stainless-steel bottles featuring the artwork of Billy-Jay O’Toole will also be available for purchase at the event, with 100% of sales being donated to WRISC Family Violence Support.

/Public Release. View in full here.