A one metre high and twelve metres long wall, on Charlotte Street, Cooktown, is a curved structure in three parts.
Nearly 500 ceramic tiles, hand-painted and carved, tell the story of the contact between the Aboriginals and Europeans, through history and mythology in colourful text and drawings.
The first part explains and shows how the Endeavour River and Cooktown were created, and explains the stories of creation.
The second part of the wall commemorates that first meeting between the Aboriginal people and Captain Cook and his crew. This part of the wall also depicts the history of the Aboriginal people from early settlement, through the gold rush days, up until the Second World War.
Part three illustrates the importance of the 1967 referendum, when Australian people overwhelmingly recognised the right to equality of the Aboriginal people with all other Australian people.
Visitors are advised to slowly unravel the stories on the wall, while enjoying the beautiful artwork.
‘Milbi’, in the local Aboriginal language is the Guugu Yimithirr for story. The wall was built on the very place where Captain Cook and his crew first stepped onto the land.
Funded by the Australian Local Government Association, this was a community based project.
The potter was Shelley Burt of Townsville, and the wall was developed by local Aboriginal artists and storytellers. The wall was officially unveiled in 1998. (see Inscription below).
Cook Shire Council
THE MILBI WALL
The Milbi Wall (Story Wall) is a community based project
funded by the Australian Local Government Association
under the Local Councils Remember Program, the Local
Government Association of Queensland (Aboriginal &
Torres Strait Islanders Employment Unit) : and the many
local people who so generously contributed their talents
Officially opened by Ronald Harrigan, Chairman,
Gungarde Community Aboriginal Corporation.
9th July 1998.
Graham Eimes, Mayor
The story of Cook on the Milbi Wall:
It was an incredulous people who watched Captain Cook’s huge ship
arrive. It was outrageous compared to the aboriginies practical
small canoes. Also the white skinned people were thought to be
ghosts. Being a spiritual people the aboriginals fear made first
contact very slow and difficult. They named them the Wangarr
meaning white people which is still commonly used by
the Guugu Yimidhirr people today.
When on shore to repair the ship Cook gained the confidence
of the aboriginal people without violence. Scientific recordings were
made and the Gangurru was given the name Kangaroo.
GPS Coordinates: -15.461667, 145.249722
Cook’s Log, page 1986, vol. 25, no. 4 (2002)
Image gallery (click to enlarge)