WELLINGTON Shire Council and Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation (GLaWAC) have announced the naming of a new environmental and cultural centre – Nakunbalook.

The Nakunbalook Environmental and Cultural Education Centre is a joint project between Wellington Shire Council and GLaWAC, providing a facility to host events and learning programs focussed on sustainability and culture, located on the banks of Lakes Guthridge and Guyatt.

GLaWAC General Manager of Culture Grattan Mullett said it was important to provide a place of cultural awareness for the community.

“Nakunbalook” is a Gunaikurnai name meaning Grandfather Gumtree, which represents “knowledge and place” as the site contains many families of red gums and has high cultural and biodiversity values,” he said.

“GLaWAC is excited to be involved in the joint partnership with Wellington Shire Council to provide a place of learning and understanding of how our people used and interacted in our natural environment and waterways.”

The new $650,000 centre, due to open next month, showcases many environmentally sustainable design elements and low impact materials, such as rammed earth walls, solar power, double glazed windows and energy efficient lighting.

Wellington Shire Council Mayor Ian Bye said council’s partnership with GLaWAC was an exciting part of the overall project.

“As Nakunbalook’s construction nears completion, I’m excited for people living and travelling in the Middle of Everywhere to visit to learn, connect and protect our local environment and culture,” Cr Bye said.

“I’m also looking forward to having GLaWAC as an ongoing partner in the centre’s operation. Developing a strong relationship and partnership with the Gunaikurnai is vital to achieving our common environmental, cultural, social, and economic objectives. We never stop learning or improving our awareness.”

The building will host events and learning programs with a focus on sustainability and culture, such as Wellington Shire Council’s Sustainable Living Education Program, community group meetings, workshops, citizen science pop-up labs and Aboriginal cultural experiences.

Bug Blitz, TAFE Gippsland, Federation University and Parks Victoria will run regular programs from the facility.

Community Groups such as SEED Community Garden and Friends of the Sale Botanic Gardens will also use the facility regularly.

In the future, Nakunbalook will also host events such as NAIDOC Week celebrations, Parks Week activities and art classes from Gippsland Art Gallery staff.

Nakunbalook, backed by Wellington Shire Council, GLaWAC and the John Leslie Foundation, supports two of the priority areas identified in Wellington Shire’s Council Plan 2021-25 – action on climate change and partnering with Gunaikurnai – as well as two goals in the Gunaikurnai Whole of Country Plan – ‘To heal our Country’ and ‘To Have a Strong Focus on Learning’.

Construction began in November, and while council is facilitating the design, funding and construction, the centre will be managed by a community-based advisory committee appointed by council.

Council is hoping to celebrate Nakunbalook’s opening later this year in style, with plenty of activities and events planned across a whole opening week.

For more information about Nakunbalook, its opening or the Sustainable Living Education Program, phone Council’s Sustainability Education Officer Sharon Ray on 1300 366 244 or email sharonr@wellington.vic.gov.au