The doors to Umbarra Cultural Centre have been reopened, temporarily for now.
An art gallery and shop featuring the works of local Indigenous Australian artists opened last week at the centre, 10 years after it shut down as a public destination for cultural experiences and information.
Located between Bermagui and Tilba, Umbarra operated from 1998–2008 and was a popular venue for exhibitions, historical displays, cultural activities, tours and storytelling.
When operating, there were regular boat tours on Wallaga Lake and walks up Gulaga.
Merrimans Local Aboriginal Land Council (LALC) CEO Terry Hill said the doors were opened to build capacity in the community in terms of operation, to gauge public interest into whether or not people would utilise the centre, as well as to showcase local artists.
From next week, he said, there will be a cafe open at the centre until March.
“I’ve had a lot of requests from the non-Aboriginal community about restoring and reopening the Umbarra Cultural Centre,” Mr Hill said.
“It’s about time we resurrect it.
“When it was operating previously, it was a very popular destination.”
He said a to-be-completed business study might find other uses for the centre.
“The original intentions were to build cabins there, so we’ll revisit that,” Mr Hill said.
Sisters Alison and Maria Walker wanted to start a small business to promote Indigenous Australian culture and artists, so they approached Merrimans LALC with a proposal to re-open the centre four days a week running an art gallery and shop, under their business name Madhang Djabadj Ngaranggals, which means “strong black duck women” in Djirringanj language.
“It’s something that needed to be done for our community,” Maria said.
“Culture has always been in me and Alison, and we have this beautiful big resource that’s sitting here that’s been vacant for years.
“Alison and I are very inspired to start our business, and coming from the Wallaga Lake community we thought why not revive Umbarra Cultural Centre?”
The centre will be open from 10am to 3pm, Thursday to Sunday for the summer months.