Sir Douglas Nicholls Reserve and Aboriginies Advancement League
Statement of Significance
What is significant?
The Sir Doug Nicholls Reserve, the Aborigines Advancement League Centre and the Aboriginal Mural in Watt Street, Thornbury.
How is it significant?
The Sir Doug Nicholls Reserve, the Aborigines Advancement League Centre and the Aboriginal Mural are of State historic, aesthetic, and social significance to Victoria.
Why is it significant?
Historically, the Sir Doug Nicholls Reserve, the Aborigines Advancement League Centre and the Aboriginal Mural are of State significance to Victoria. In 1981, the Victorian Government ceded two acres of the old Glen Iris Brick Company brickworks to the League, and contributed part of the $750,000 needed to fund a new building on the Watt Street site. Later, most of the remaining brickworks site became the Sir Douglas Nicholls Oval. The transfer of land title to the League by the State Government under the Aboriginal Lands (Aborigines Advancement League) (Watt Street Northcote) Act 1982 and the Aboriginal Land (Northcote Land) Act 1989 was an important symbol of land rights, and the first grant of land to an indigenous group in Victoria.
The mural is also of State historical significance. It was created in 1983 and was originally erected on a site overlooking a temporary car park in High Street, opposite the Northcote Town Hall. The 'Northcote Koori Mural' was researched and designed by visual artist Megan Evans, in collaboration with members of the Victorian Aboriginal Community (AHC criteria A.4, B.2, H.1). The mural depicts various aspects of Victorian Aboriginal history including white invasion, dispossession and oppression of Victorian Aboriginal people, and the history of the Land Rights movement. Evans built the wall and painted the mural with trainee artists Les Griggs, Ray Thomas, Millie Yarran, Elaine Trott, and Ian Johnson with many volunteers.
Aesthetically, the Aboriginal Mural is of State significance as a work of the artist Megan Evans in collaboration with members of the Victorian Aboriginal Community, which depicts Aboriginal history and culture (AHC criterion E.1)
Socially, the Sir Doug Nicholls Reserve, the Aborigines Advancement League Centre and the Aboriginal Mural are of State significance to Victorian Aborigines and the broader Victorian community who know, use and value this facility. (AHC criterion G.1) As well, the place has potential social significance for the evidence it provides of the broader struggle and survival of the local and Victorian Aboriginal community, their culture and traditions, and the landmark events such as the 1967 referendum and the first freehold land grant to Aborigines in Victoria which are directly associated with the place and the AAL. (AHC criterion G.1)
Levels of significance
The following levels of significance apply to this place:
Primary: Reserve and mural
Secondary: Aborigines Advancement League Centre building, landscaping
Limited/Not significant: Later buildings including the sporting pavilions