It’s a far cry from a Nordic road leading to a waterfall, but that was the inspiration behind the name of a North Burnett town by the same name that boasts some incredible art.
Eidsvold – the Scandinavian one – means road leading to a waterfall. The town beside that waterfall became a communal hub as long ago as the 11th century because it was where the region’s ‘thing’ was located. A thing was an assembly of free citizens, presided over by a legal spokesperson, held whenever any significant issue needed discussing. As the ‘thing’ was where people gathered for legal purposes it also doubled as a social event and an opportunity for trade. Eidsvold’s things* became so important that it was chosen as the location for the signing of Norway’s constitution in 1814.
Eidsvold – the North Burnett one – came about in 1848 when Thomas and Charles Archer became the first Europeans to settle in the area, naming one of the two stations they established after the Norwegian town. And the fact that this town is named after one where ‘things’ became famous is very appropriate, because our Eidsvold also has numerous fascinating things.
The most fascinating is the Language of the Land. The steel creation, winner of the BEST LANDMARK SCULPTURE gold trophy at the Australian Street Art Awards, pays tribute to the people who live on, or are connected to, the land. Those who already know the language of the land will recognise the bush trails, water holes, rivers and animal tracks adorning the lower half of the five-panelled piece. Hidden among them are three footprints that represent the ancient knowledge held by the Wulli Wulli, Gurang and Wakka Wakka peoples of this region alongside a man’s and woman’s bootprint. That would be an R.M. Williams boot as the sculpture is located at the R.M. Williams Australian Bush Learning Centre.
Outlines of drovers, plus circular motfis above representing communities, stargazing and campfire gatherings on the upper parts of the panels complete the complex picture depicted in amazing simplicity. It was designed by Illuminart.
RM Williams lived at Rockybar Station just west of Eidsvold in the early 1950s, loved the quiet bush area, learned a great deal about bush craft here, contributed even more, and chose Rockybar as his final resting place.
And each evening the sculpture’s panels become the canvas for a free son et lumiere show that shares stories of RM Williams, local drovers, the friendship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous stockmen, and anecdotes from past times through poetry, bush yarns and song.
The R.M. Williams Australian Bush Learning Centre is an interesting thing in and of itself. Developed by the North Burnett Regional Council in association with the Williams family, the Centre honours the great man. It pays tribute to the skills and culture that the bush is founded upon, promoting the local area’s unique history as well as the influence of R.M. Williams on that culture.
Then there’s a relatively new thing that has ancient roots. Alice Maslen's Hitching Rail, located in the main street, was erected around 1980. At the time Alice was an old woman who, despite living in the age of the motor car, still brought her horse and sulky into town. While you sadly will not see Alice any longer, you might see other horses hitched. That’s especially likely if you hit town during the Eidsvold Golden Bell Campdraft. Held annually on the last weekend in March, riders saddle up for some high-speed action at this event.
There’s plenty of other things to see in and around Eidsvold, so pull on a pair of R.M. Williams boots and hit the highway. That’s the Burnett Highway you’ll be following. Giddy up…
* Yes, this is the derivation of our English word, although the meaning of the word ‘thing’ has transformed to not just mean an assembly but rather anything.
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