A group of determined Year 5 students rocked up to Wollongong City Council with a pitch to create a glow-in-the-dark walk at Sandon Point to highlight the area's Aboriginal culture.
With palm cards in hand and a PowerPoint slide presentation, the four students pitched their idea to Wollongong council's infrastructure management team on December 1.
Year 5 student Ellie Purvis explained why they named it the Aboriginal Starlit Path: "We're hoping it will look a bit like a night full of stars but it will also have all the whales, and the turtles, and waratahs and hopefully it will give a really good effect at night time."
How would it work?
The students' pitch is for glow-in-the-dark rocks to be placed across the pathway from Sandon Point to the north end of McCauley's Beach.
They explained that the eco-friendly rocks would glow for six to eight hours after 30 minutes of sunlight exposure.
Ellie adds that this would also solve current safety concerns.
"At night time if you were riding through you wouldn't be able to see where you're going because it's really dark," she said.
"With the glow rocks it won't light up like a football field, but you'll be able to see a lot better."
A sacred space
Sandon Point and McCaughley's Beach have deep cultural significance including the presence of middens and a 6000-year-old burial site.
It is one of the few dedicated Aboriginal Places in NSW and is protected by the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974.
The students' pitch was created in collaboration with Uncle Kevin Butler.
Russel Vale Public School student Lilah Cuthbertson said that he taught them about the significant animals and plants in Dharawal Country including whales, turtles, waratahs, and black ducks.
"We learned all about the different art he's done and ... that [the area] is very important to the Dharawal people," Lilah Cuthbertson said.
The students want the start of the path to include the Dharawal word for welcome: 'Yulunga'.
Where the three paths meet, they would like a symbol of a yarning circle.
"To symbolise the journey of tribes coming together for a sacred meeting this is important information which educates the community," Ellie Purvis said.
The pitch to council
Members of Wollongong City Council's infrastructure management team eagerly listened to the pitch and asked questions at the end.
They were curious about which other areas in the Illawarra could benefit from the idea and whether glow-in-the-dark rocks or paint should be used in other places.
The students advised the council that glow-in-the-dark pathways could become a tourist attraction.
Repair work began at Sandon Point and Trinity Row walkway at Bulli Beach in early 2023 to widen the path to become a shared pathway.
The pitch will undergo a community and Aboriginal consultation process.
The students are from the high potential and gifted-extend class supported by the Primary Principal Council in the Illawarra.