2023 – Diyan Warrane

Held from 5:19am to sunrise (6:10am), the 2023 edition featured the artwork of proud Kamilaroi woman, Rhonda Sampson.

Titled Diyan Warrane, which translates in English as Women Of Sydney Harbour, the design represents the important role of First Nations’ women around the waters of Warrane. These waters became known as the ‘women’s domain’, where Gadigal women would fish throughout the harbour home, from Me-Mel (Goat Island) to Ta-ra (Dawes Point).

The artwork honours 4 celebrated women of the Gadigal people, Boorong, Patygerang, Daringa & Barangaroo, who were all very skilled fisherwomen with their own unique individual stories and contributions.

For the 1st time, an attendance figure was announced – “hundreds of people”.

The harbour has always been integral to the everyday lives of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation & it’s important we continue to share their stories. It is important will listen.

It is important to me to share the Eel Dreaming Story of the Gadigal people of how the waterways of Warrane were formed & how the Gadigal women used those waterways to fish and feed their people. They listened to the harbour, to Mother Earth – we all need to listen.

I hope my artwork provides an opportunity for us to reflect on & learn about the connection Gadigal people have always had with the land and waters.

Sharing these stories gives us time to reflect, learn and listen to everything we see on Gadigal country & the connection that exists between people, land and water.

Rhonda Sampson, 2023 Dawn Reflection Artist
Rhonda Sampson in front of her Dawn Reflection: Diyan Warrane
Photograph: Salty Dingo

2022 – Ngintaka Tjukurpa

The stories that you see in the paintings – that’s our story and our Dreaming

I have done this painting for my father’s country. The place called Mutinka, where my father was born. When my grandson grows up he can have this story. This is my father’s place, not somebody else’s place.

Yadjidta David Miller, Dawn Reflection 2022 Artist

Held from 5:20am to sunrise (6:10am), the 2022 edition featured the artwork of acclaimed 70-year-old Western Desert artist and Elder, Yadjidta David Miller, who travelled to Sydney especially for to see his artwork appearing in the Dawn Reflection.

Mr Miller is a senior Pitjantjatjara man who lives in the remote community settlement of Pipalyatjara in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunyatjara lands of northern South Australia, with his artistic base being a 4-hour drive away at iconic Uluru.

The artwork tells the Ngintaka Tjukurpa (Perentie dreaming story) of the Perentie Songline. Wati Ngintaka, the giant Perentie man, steals a special grindstone, stopping at waterholes and finding food sources in his travels across the lands, which included passing Uluru. The artwork also featured later in the night in ‘Solid Rock, Sacred Ground‘, the opening segment of the Australia Day Live 2022 concert, which featured Goanna’s hit song, Solid Rock, which was written at Uluru and an Inma (dance), which was partially filmed at Uluru as well.

Ngintaka Inma being held by the artist, Yadjidta David Miller (centre) and Yvonne Weldon, Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council Chairperson (right)
Photograph: Australia Day In Sydney

The Sydney Opera House projection coincided with both the Australian National Flag & Australian Aboriginal Flag being raised on top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge at 5:45am – both flags remained at full mast for the whole day & is symbolic of moving important conversations forward and sharing a combined commitment to harmony and reconciliation. It was a symbol of unity, recognition and inclusion. During National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) Week 2022, the symbol become a permanent feature of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

2021 – Angwirri

Australia Day In Sydney 2021: Dawn Reflection – Angwirri by Frances Belle-Parker
Photograph: Australia Day In Sydney

Dawn Reflection began in 2021. It was not announced prior to the event so it was a surprise addition on the day. Held between 5:20am & sunrise (6:11am), the Sydney Opera House projection coincided with both the Australian and the Aboriginal flags being raised on the Sydney Harbour Bridge at 5:45am, which was a former feature of the WugulOra Morning Ceremony conclusion.

Being a Sydney Opera House projection at the start of a day which ends with a flagship ‘Sydney Spectacular, it automatically earned a status as a ‘flagship’ Sydney Spectacular – the 2nd Australia Day In Sydney event to be given the title.

The artwork was called Angwirri (pronounced Ung-wer-ri) which means ‘Begin to talk’ in Yaygirr language.

NSW artist, Frances Belle-Parker, was commissioned to create the artwork. Ms Belle-Parker, a proud Yaegl woman, mother and artist from Maclean on the Clarence River said she is proud to have designed the projection to represent the oldest living culture in the world.

She is deeply inspired by her Mother’s land (Yaegl land) and the island in the Clarence River that her Mother grew up on, Ulgundahi Island.

Frances came to prominence after winning the Blake Prize in 2000 making her the youngest ever winner & the first Indigenous recipient in the prize’s history.

Frances completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts through the University Of New South Wales, and a Bachelor of Visual Arts (Honours) and a Master of Indigenous Studies (Wellbeing) both through Southern Cross University.

Frances has been a practising artist for the last 20 years, undertaking art residencies in China and Andorra, exhibiting nationally and internationally and working on public art projects.

I am inspired by the Yaegl Landscape and those stories which were shared with me and passed down from our old people

It is my responsibility to document these stories and to map our landscape, in doing so I am making a valuable resource for my children and all of the younger Yaegl mob

By creating this work, it gave myself the opportunity to help tell a story that not only represents who we are as a nation but also to give people a wider understanding of Aboriginal Culture and how valuable it really is to our identity as a nation

Our sense of belonging to the land is something that is intrinsically embedded into our being, and as First Nations people we are responsible for sharing the truth of our history

The colours are inspired by the vast array of colours present in the Australian landscape and coastline.

The brown linear design symbolises a mapping of country/coastline

The circle markings depict the 250+ Aboriginal Language groups present in Australia and the linear marks represent
the 200 nationalities that call Australia home

Frances Belle-Parker, Inaugural Dawn Reflection Artist
Angwirri - Frances Belle-Parker
Angwirri – Frances Belle-Parker

Yvonne Weldon, Chair of the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council said it’s a time for inclusion and the opportunity for greater understanding and reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians.

The raising of the Aboriginal Flag at the outset of Australia Day symbolises a deep respect for Aboriginal people and culture within New South Wales – in the first State, at first light we recognise our First Nations.

It is an important moment to remember that Australia’s First Nation’s people are the foundation of our nation’s story. It is important to acknowledge and honour the sacrifices and we thank the ancestors for their custodianship for thousands of generations.

Yvonne Weldon, Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council Chairperson