Following extensive consultation with local Elders, the design of the five buildings at the new Shellharbour Hospital will be informed by the Five Islands Aboriginal Creation Story, which is a deeply significant story for the local Aboriginal Community.
To mark the announcement, a traditional smoking ceremony and cultural dancing was held on Yuin/Dharawal Country, the lands on which the hospital will be located.
The formation of the Five Islands Aboriginal Creation Story is explained in the Dreaming. Oola-boolawoo, the West Wind, lived on top of the Illawarra range (‘Merrigong’) with his six daughters, Mimosa, Wilga, Lilli Pilli, Wattle, Clematis and Geera. With the exception of Geera, these daughters became rude and badly behaved and subsequently the West Wind threw each daughter along with the rock she was sitting on into the sea. Each rock formed an island, now known as the Five Islands, and the daughters became mermaids. Geera remained on the mountain range and sat so still and quiet that she turned to stone, becoming what is now known as Mount Keira.
The five islands sisters from the creation story include:
- Lilli Pilli
The sixth sister, Geera is included through the Geera garden at the Northern-most and highest point of the hospital site, looking over her five sisters as explained in the Dreaming.
The next stages of design will consider the use of Five Islands plants as interior wayfinding and colour schemes.
The smoking ceremony was also an important step to prepare the site for the commencement of the early works, which is due to start in the coming weeks.
The new Shellharbour Hospital and Integrated Services project will include an expanded emergency department and mental health services, increased surgical capacity, rehabilitation and aged care services, and a new drug and alcohol unit.
HI’s Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan
outlines our commitment to engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stakeholders and facilitating appropriate cultural ceremonies on project sites to help build relationships and respect with First Nations peoples, and continue our reconciliation journey.