Bunbury centre’s unique design has roots in Dreamtime story

Kate FieldingSouth Western Times
VideoOne of Bunbury's biggest tourist attractions has undergone a significant facelift.

A renowned South West indigenous artist has shared the story behind Dolphin Discovery Centre’s unique design ahead of the facility’s opening this weekend.

Troy Bennell provided input into MCG Architects’ design of the new landmark building.

The impressive building is already turning heads on Koombana Drive and Mr Bennell hopes the story behind its design will be passed down to generations for years to come.

“It’s a story of something that happened here – to bring it here in the forefront now, in 2018, that’s so powerful,” Mr Bennell said.

The south wall of the building is split into three screens to tell the dolphin dreaming story.

The eye-catching blue structure at the point of the building represents the Leeuwin Current, the middle panel symbolises story and song lines of the connection between the hills, to the ocean and estuary and a pod of dolphins at the back end completes the story.

There is also a lighting system which represents the six seasons.

Mr Bennell said the design told the Noongar Dreamtime story of how children were swept from sand dunes by a big wave before drowning in front of their families.

“The old spirit man hit his hands together and changed all those drowning children into dolphins, kwilana,” Mr Bennell said.

“Every summer time the families would come back here and sing a song for their children, the dolphins, and the dolphins would get excited and herd up enough fish for the family eat.”

“That’s the continued story of the wave coming and drowning these children, shape form turning them into dolphins, that’s why we have dolphins in the bay here.”

He said the new building and interpretive centre would pass those stories on and help create new ones.

“We’re creating new stories here now, bring all the stories together and tell you what, this place will be buzzing,” he said.

The new-look tourist attraction is set to open to the public on Saturday.

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