Yarrabilba Neumann Park

Queensland, Australia

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Lendlease has collaborated with the Cultural Heritage body, Jabree, since the beginning of the Yarrabilba project to conduct comprehensive Cultural Heritage Assessments and investigations throughout the entire site. These efforts have particularly emphasised the significance of the Rock Shelter sites.

As part of the Yarrabilba community development, there is an interface between the project and the Plunkett Conservation Park and Wickham National Park. Neumann Park, an open space within the area, presents a multitude of complexities and challenges due to its critical Cultural Heritage considerations, site limitations, and various environmental and bushfire management obligations. The design team has effectively achieved the desired project outcome by working closely with Jabree.

Project summary

Neumann Park holds deep cultural significance for the Yugambeh People due to the presence of two significant Rock Shelters and their continued connection to Country. Detailed investigations by Jabree determined each Shelter had a specific use, one a stone tool workshop, the other a place for camping and cooking.

This project presented a special opportunity for a positive cultural exchange between the project team and the Yugambeh People, working alongside one another to restore and protect the site. The vision for the project protects the Shelters by developing design that responds to the site and layered history of the area.

Role description

The Neumann Park project is the culmination of consolidated efforts from the project design and stakeholder team to ensure the delivery of a balanced, sensitive project outcome that protected and respected the special Rock Shelter sites as part of the Yarrabilba’s narrative. The strategy which underpinned the evolution of the park design was centred around the following key pillars:

Understanding, respecting and working with the First Nations group ensured the most culturally appropriate outcome was reached.

Developing a landscape vision that had a balanced response to the physical characteristics of the place, the deeply layered cultural fabric as well as delivering the open space, operational and community requirements of the park.

Touching the ground as lightly as possible to deliver the project outcome whilst respecting the site.

Ensuring all key stakeholders and agencies were included into key decision-making and understood the vision and objectives of the project.

Key achievements

Our vision highlighted that an authentic response to the Plunkett place and the Yugambeh People’s story was foundational to the project. Due to the importance and sensitivity of the Rock Shelter, the project process elevated from its outset participation through Jabree. This included ensuring that the group led and gave consent to project works including ongoing authentic engagement with the Yugambeh People across all project stages.

Secondly, to de-risk the project, the design team sought to ensure deep engagement and collaboration between all stakeholders and agencies with interest in the project (including the wider design team and specialists) to deliver the outcome.

Innovations and value-adding lessons

From its inception, the project exemplified the importance of the landscape architect’s role in providing careful leadership and strategic approach to delivering a successful culturally significant project outcome. This process included:

  • A project vision developed with clear connection to Country.
  • Championing a sensitive approach to managing the site works.
  • Collaboration with key stakeholders and facilitation of workshops, site walks and design reviews throughout the project lifecycle.
  • Landscape-led approach to earthworks, drainage, vegetation retention through design documentation works.
  • Sensitive design of Plunkett-inspired play space with geological and vegetation themes to encourage engagement with the surrounding landscape.
  • Celebrating the significance of the place and devising an approach to storytelling and education of the community.

Environment, social & government achievements

Social

This project highlighted the need to provide Aboriginal agency through the design, construction and legacy of Neumann Park. This was enabled and facilitated through:

  • All site investigations and early Cultural Heritage Assessments (CHA) activities undertaken by Jabree team for the client, Lendlease.
  • Co-design with the Yugambeh People including interpretive signage and website information.
  • Project provides improved access and opportunities for outdoor learning and teaching spaces as well as school curriculum developed around the significance of Country.
  • Active participation of the Yugambeh People as part of construction team induction, cultural awareness training, rehabilitation planting works and project opening.

Environmental

A range of key principles guided the approach to the park design to enhance the environmental outcomes of the project, including:

  • Repair of degraded site condition which included areas of major incised scour along disused trails (near the Rock Shelters), removal of weeds and treatment of vandalism.
  • Reuse of site materials including rock, soil, mulch to reduce wastage and imported materials.
  • Considered design layout and vegetation survey to protect over 110 trees onsite.
  • Balanced design approach to earthworks and drainage interventions reducing erosion and sedimentation downstream whilst protecting existing Rock Shelters.
  • Project planting works delivered over 10,300 new local and endemic species, including 128 new trees.
  • Planting of 750 seedlings propagated from the area, planted at Rock Shelter site by Yugambeh People.

Economic

Neumann Park delivers an important recreational space to the community of Yarrabilba and establishes a trail head for the broader Plunkett Conservation Park and Wickham National Park. The Plunkett landscape is unique in its geological and ecological characteristics. The wider shared path and trail network connects through Neumann Park improving access, community participation and unlocks indirect economic benefits from increased visitation and educational opportunities. The project provides all abilities access to the Rock Shelter site, including parking and pathways. Neumann Park provides improved amenities, gathering space and protection measures to the fragile site. The project aims to preserve, protect and strengthen the Yugambeh People’s connection to Country.