A Welcome to Country mural has been officially opened at the Western Australia Visitor Centre in the state’s capital, Perth.

Opened on Wednesday by WA Minister for Tourism, Paul Papalia, the Minister and attendees of the event listened to a Welcome to Country from Noongar man and Go Cultural Tours owner, Walter McGuire, and participated in a smoking ceremony.

Speaking at the event, Minister Papalia said of the recently announced $150 million in funding into the WA tourism industry, nearly $4 million of that will go to Aboriginal cultural tourism experiences.

In early August, the McGowan Government announced a $3.84 million investment into three ‘Camping with Custodians’ sites on the Dampier Peninsula near Broome as well as $10 million into an access road to open up the Pilbara’s Murujuga National Park.

Mural designer, young Noongar artist Rickesha Burdett, said the artwork represents land, community and the wildflower season—popular with tourists across the state.

“[The] coloured flowers represent the wildflowers during the Kambarang Noongar season (October to November),” Burdett, 25, said.

“Each circle (community) expresses that there are many groups or families that have ties to Noongar Country.

“The ocean and the sandy coloured dots represent the sand banks in between the deep and shallow seas.”

Minister for Tourism Paul Papalia and Noongar man Walter McGuire during the smoking ceremony. Photo by Hannah Cross.

The initiative to create a visual Welcome to Country was launched by the Western Australian Indigenous Tourism Operators Council (WAITOC) in partnership with the WA Visitor Centre.

WAITOC CEO Robert Taylor and Marketing Manager Di Below said at the event the Council has hopes other Visitor Centres across the state will follow suit with a visual Welcome to Country mural.

A new Wildflower Tracker was also launched at the event, an application that allows tourists to take photos, tag and upload them to an interactive map so others can see what is blooming across the state, when, and where.

The event was catered by local Aboriginal business, Bindi Bindi Dreaming, owned by Noongar woman Marissa Verma. Verma creates contemporary dishes with traditional herbs and ingredients including lemon myrtle, bush tomato and river mint.

To view the Wildflower Tracker interactive map, visit: https://www.wavisitorcentre.com.au/wildflowers.

By Hannah Cross