The Face of Melbourne

The Face of Melbourne
The Face of Melbourne

The first time I noticed the building was from the ANZAC memorial, far off in the distance a black and white face 32 storeys tall staring back at me. It was far away but I could make out the portrait clearly. I was intrigued and needed to know more about the building and, more importantly, whose face it was.

The Face of Melbourne

The face belonged to a man named William Barak.

The Face of Melbourne

William Barak

William Barak was born into the Wurundjeri clan in 1823. After serving as a tracker in the Native Police at 19 he followed in his fathers footsteps and became ngurungaeta or clan leader. Throughout his life he became a political leader and spokesman for his people, becoming a prominent figure in the struggle for Aboriginal rights and justice.

Barak lived during a time of great change. During his lifetime the number of white people living in southern Australia had climbed from almost none to over a million. As a young boy he witnessed the signing of John Batman’s 1835’s land purchase contract, which would have large consequences for his people.

The Face of Melbourne

Today Barak is remembered for his artwork. They depict indigenous life during that time and their encounters with Europeans, many of which have a permanent place in the National Gallery of Australia.

The Face of Melbourne

During the few days I was in Melbourne I came across the building a number of times, mostly by accident, but it was always a pleasant surprise. The building uses shadows created by negative space and white balconies to form the portrait of William Barak which can be seen from many angles.

Though having the face stand out in the Melbourne skyline is an example of times changing many feel that displaying the face of an Aboriginal elder and land rights activist on the front of high-end city real estate is a huge juxtaposition.

The Face of Melbourne

Being in Melbourne was the first time I had seen an example of architecture like this. Have you heard or know of any other examples of people or faces used in architecture? Share them in the comments below, I would be interested to see them.

Further Reading:

Views of the building from above and why Melbourne’s new William Barak building is a cruel juxtaposition from  The Conversation

Enjoy views of Melbourne from the balcony on

My History of Australian Aboriginals and their part in Tourism in Australia.

A more extensive look at the life of William Barak.

Stop the Press!

Today I was going to post about Melbourne and specially the Eureka tower until I saw a video that moved me. I have recently been posting about the Australian Aboriginals and their struggles in Australia. I am no where near well educated on the subject but during my research I have become interested in their culture and built a connection with their history. Now Aboriginals are facing new difficulties as settlements are being closed due to funding.

Watch the video posted by Wes Carr below.

Visit Wes Carr’s Facebook page HERE.


The long walk

To finish my posts about Aboriginal culture in Australia  I would like to cover a few areas where Aboriginal culture is present in current Australian society that I haven’t already mentioned. It is still a long road to reduce the social gap and a continuous battle raise awareness for their struggle. I want to begin with The Long Walk with happens each year in May.

Michael Long was an Australian rules football player of Indigenous descent. After his career ended in 2001 he became a spokesperson for Aboriginal and Torres Strait islanders. He was unhappy with the situation and wanted to encourage change. He decided to walk from his home in Melbourne to Canberra and talk with the Prime Minister of the time, John Howard. After walking more than half of the 650 km to Canberra Long had gathered so much support that John Howard had heard of his efforts and invited him to talk.

Now, the Long Walk is celebrated in many ways. One of those is Dreamtime at the G. An AFL (Australian Football League) game dedicated to the Indigenous people of Australia. I was in attendance on 21st May 2011 as well as the other 80,000 people while Richmond played Essendon. It was a great experience. The MCG or G is a huge stadium and along with the pre-match entertainment that involved aspects of the Aboriginal Dreamtime it created an excellent atmosphere.

The other is the Aboriginal Tent Embassy that was established in 1972 outside the Australian Parliament in Canberra by four Aboriginal men in an effort to get the government to recognize the land rights of the Aboriginal people of Australia. In February the protesters presented their demands that included the control of the Northern Territory, Mining rights and the preservation of sacred sites. The demands were rejected and eight people arrested. Since 1972 the Aboriginal Tent Embassy has been established and removed numerous times but still remains today.

These last few posts could only be considered an introduction into the culture of Aboriginals as their history is long, complex and still continues today. If you have posted about the culture of Aboriginal people and their history in Australia please share the link in the comments below as I would like to read them.


Aboriginals in Tourism

With the encouragement of the Australian Government Aboriginal tourism has been established as a way for the indigenous people to tell their story in their own way. These people can now share their cultural insights, traditional practices and contemporary concerns with international visitors and non-Indigenous Australians. The Indigenous people of Australia see this type of tourism as a way to educate others about their culture while creating employment and training opportunities at a local level.

Aboriginal tourism is a broad and varied experience but there is one common thread, the inclusion of insights into and about the cultural knowledge, lifestyle and benefits of Australia’s Indigenous people. Aboriginal tourism goes beyond the lifestyles and traditions of the Indigenous people who live in these remote communities and includes urban Aboriginal tourism, focusing on rock art, politically themed art exhibitions, live theater and stories from the Dreamtime.

With the interest of preserving and marketing of Aboriginal culture the Australian Tourist Commission has defined Aboriginal tourism as “a tourism experience or service, which is majority owned or operated by Aboriginal people and/or owned or operated in partnership with non-Aboriginal people.” This is not always the case, for example, in New South Wales only 39 of 250 Aboriginal tour operations were Aboriginal-owned in 2001.

Since 1995 the Aboriginal Tourism Australia (ATA) has been operating on the behalf of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in Australia. The ATA is a non-profit company that provides leadership and focus strategies for the development of Aboriginal tourism keeping in mind Aboriginal economic, cultural and environmental values. In Aboriginal culture land is very significant and many areas are sacred and spiritual to these Indigenous people. Traditional owners have a responsibility to the land and to look after the environmental, cultural and spiritual well being of those areas.

This unique relationship and respect for the land is increasingly attracting visitors seeking to ‘touch the earth’. These areas include Uluru (Ayers Rock) and many sites in the Northern Territories that contain cave paintings over 5000 years old. Another major element of Aboriginal tourism is cultural control. These people have been around for a long time and already many of them have been attracted by many parts of modern society. It is important that we are aware of these differences and considerate towards them. For example many areas are scared and photographs are not allowed, also the visitor center in Uluru contains a book of apologies for taking pieces of rock known as the ‘Sorry book’, claiming that they caused bad luck.

Lately a priority has been to develop guidelines for the accreditation of Aboriginal tourism operators and after two years consulting with Ingenious communities, industry stakeholders and tourism operators, ATA has developed the program Respecting Our Culture. By encouraging businesses to protect Indigenous cultural, social, religious and spiritual values. The program aims to help find a balance between businesses, communities and the environment in the overall pursuit of sustainability. For more on this subject and further posts about Australia make sure to follow Our Shadows Will Remain.


Australian Aboriginals are bound by a belief that interconnects them with the land, spirituality, law and care of the environment. The Dreamtime is the period of creation where humans and other life-forms emerged from the earth creating all living things and landscapes we see today. Creation beliefs can vary across Australia but they are all based on the journeys that took place during the creation time.

These creation stories come in many forms, they include descriptions of landforms, events and the characteristics of plants and animals. The kata Tjuta (The Olgas) involve tales of rodent mice or Mingarri and their interaction with different ancestors. The Murray River is the path carved by a giant cod who was pursued to his death in the lower lakes.


Dreamtime does not only refer to the time around the creation period when the land was named and shaped but also to current stories that describe creation forces that are present today. These stories direct social systems and form the basis for the aboriginal law and care for the environment. Dreamtime stories are passed through the generations through ritual ceremonies, dance, art and song.

Today Aboriginal communities want to share their heritage with visitors to their country and the best way to gain firsthand knowledge is through this living legacy of rituals, dance and stories that touch on the aspects of the Dreamtime.

For more about Dreamtime and Aboriginal culture in Australia read Australia Aboriginal Dreamtime which I used as a source for my research.