Tuesday, 2 April 2024

A monumental public artwork has been unveiled at McKillop Park, Freshwater.

Perched on the headland, Signal Fire sends an important message about the history of our nation and honours the world’s oldest living culture. 

Northern Beaches Council commissioned First Nations art and design studio mili mili to complete the work as part of the Coast Walk Public Art project.

Led by artist and creative director Nicole Monks, mili mili have created a powerful tribute to the enduring tradition and historical significance of signal fires. 

“Signal fires have been lit on headlands up and down the east coast by Aboriginal people for tens of thousands of years,” Ms Monks said.

“They are part of a sophisticated system of communication passed down through the generations, serving as a message, serving as a warning, serving as a reminder.”

When Cook sailed the Endeavour up the east coast of Australia in 1770, First Nations people strategically lit signal fires along the headlands, to convey a message and a warning. 

Council and mili mili engaged with local Aboriginal elders, cultural knowledge holders, the Aboriginal Heritage Office and community as part of their creative process. Through many walks and yarns on Country with local Aboriginal people, local knowledge has been incorporated into the final artwork. 

mili mili also worked with local Aboriginal enterprise Bush to Bowl and Council’s bush regeneration teams to include endemic native plants into the surrounding landscape. 

The artwork is a key landmark on the 36km Coast Walk, stretching from Manly to Palm Beach. The Coast Walk connects some of Sydney’s most iconic beaches and surf breaks, ocean rock pools, aquatic reserves, surf lifesaving clubs, headlands, lagoons, archaeological sites, public artworks and places of significant culture heritage. 

For more information about the new artwork visit our website