Return to Country
This sculpture was conceived and constructed to honour the military service of indigenous men and women of north Queensland. Focusing on the return of soldiers to country, family and tribal tradition the work is located at the Bill Coolburra lookout, Jezzine Barracks, Townsville, north Queensland.
The circle of stones references traditional weaving patterns practiced by indigenous tribes throughout northern Queensland. The circular design signifying the strength of the spiritual bond that binds us to country, family and tradition. Further, it references the links and commonalities of shared experiences both during war time and then on returning to country thus providing a focus on normality and daily life.
The circular shape also alludes to the Vietnam war and the tunnels of Cu Chi, where Bill Coolburra, a sapper with the 3rd Field Troop was one of the first to venture underground, his job as an engineer to clear tunnels of booby traps and to defuse bombs. The lookout where this work is located is named after Mr Coolburra, thus honoring his exemplary war service and his later work as a respected tribal elder and Catholic Lay Pastor.
The low timber and Corten wall which partially embraces the stone circle references the shape of a boomerang and symbolizes the disparate realities of those, who, immersed in traditional indigenous life, found themselves plummeted into modern warfare. The timber alluding to connection to country, the steel, to military service.