Dubai: Several millennia ago, indigenous settlements sprouted across mainland Australia, which later earned the nickname Land Down Under due to its location below the equator. Fast forward 60,000 years and the Australians invented the first Wi-Fi, a flight recorder, a pacemaker, a polymer bank note and more.
“Australia’s ingenuity did not end with the invention of Wi-Fi,” Justin McGowan, commissioner general of the Australian pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, said in an interview with Gulf News. “In fact, it has continued to thrive and we look forward to sharing our current global innovations at Expo 2020 Dubai. “
Australia’s ingenuity did not end with the invention of Wi-Fi. In fact, it continued to thrive and we look forward to sharing our current global innovations at Expo 2020 Dubai. [The fair] offers an invaluable opportunity to bring the best of Australian innovation and ingenuity, cultural diversity and world-class goods and services to the world stage.
– Justin McGowan, General Commissioner of the Australia Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai
Installed in the Mobility District, the pavilion is a stormy presence at the Universal Exhibition, exhibiting under the theme “Blue Sky Dreaming”. Ode to its multicultural societies, the country fits perfectly into the thematic district to have a population of 300 ancestors, historically well used to transfers of people.
“Australia is a [country] built on the free flow of ideas, and the flow of people is embedded in our… DNA, ”he added.“ We will bring this understanding to the world and show the power of mobility to connect minds and build to come up.”
Dreaming of blue sky
Oral tradition has always been an integral part of Australian history, where storytelling and ingenuity took root tens of thousands of years ago, thanks to the aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders. In the Australian pavilion, the country’s rich past will forge its innovative future, guided by a “blue sky ambition”.
“The Dreaming”: an Australian Aboriginal worldview
An elaborate worldview encompassing the creation, ethics and rules of dealing with nature, “The Dream” of Australian Aboriginal peoples has been passed down from generation to generation for over 60,000 years. While his stories paint images of ancestral supernatural heroes and their trials, the concept is non-linear or “at any time,” meaning his beliefs were, are, and will be relevant over time.
Cumulus clouds – large puffy white clouds with a flat base – often adorn the Australian skyline, heralding clear weather. Brisbane-based architecture firm Bureau Proberts pluck these clouds from the sky to crown the pavilion in hopes of painting a diverse picture of the country.
The cloud-shaped canopy is an assembly of powder coated aluminum blades of varying lengths which signify that several cultures and peoples of Australia come together. Due to its stacked shape, the “cloud” becomes a swaying spectacle with the changing daylight. While the tectonic blades of the clouds shade visitors during the day, they will also light up at night in a dynamic display.
“At night, the roof lights up with bright LED displays reflecting different moods and weather states of the Australian landscape,” McGowan said. “The technology behind the cloud also reflects the collaborative and innovative nature of Australia.”
Besides aluminum, other durable materials such as wood, sourced from eucalyptus, have been used in the construction of the facade of the pavilion. The wooden exterior is as jagged as Australia’s rocky terrain.
CLTP Tasmania, a lumber manufacturing company owned by Victoria-based The Hermal Group, supplies the pavilion with cross-laminated timber panels made from glued layers of solid timber. This technique allows more use of lower quality but renewable wood from eucalyptus plantations native to Australia. Visitors will find the wooden structures regulating temperature and humidity inside the pavilion by storing carbon from the atmosphere.
Stargazing in a planetarium
Of the three exhibition spaces, a planetarium called the “Star Dreaming Gallery” will take center stage as the highlight of the pavilion’s 24-minute journey. And it comes naturally to Australians since the world’s first astronomers and navigators originated in Aboriginal astronomy – long before the Greeks, Europeans and Babylonians looked at the sky. Just as First Nations people seamlessly woven stories of constellations and galaxies into their dream stories, the Australian pavilion will honor the oldest astronomers in its own planetarium.
“There is a breathtaking planetarium creating a completely immersive experience of being under Australian skies,” said McGowan. “Guests will be offered a fascinating visitor experience that will give them an emotional connection to Australia.”
There is a breathtaking planetarium creating a completely immersive experience of being under Australian skies. [Visitors] will discover stories passed down from generation to generation through song, dance and oral tradition for tens of thousands of years.
– Justin McGowan, General Commissioner of the Australia Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai
Among the Yolngu, for example, the sun is a woman personified, who travels the sky with a lit torch from east to west, encamps underground and then repeats her trek the next morning. Indigenous cultures understood the movements of heavenly bodies and recorded their patterns in song, dance, and oral tradition; not to mention the fact that they clearly knew the earth was, in fact, round – 65,000 years ago.
Upon exiting the Australian Planetarium, visitors will embark on “Annika’s Journey,” a cinematic story of a young girl traveling across Australia, exploring the possibilities of her future.
Australian Indigenous Art Program
As Australia celebrates its diverse indigenous peoples, it will also highlight their venerable cultures by raising their voices through the universal language of art.
Take for example the entrance to the pavilion. Melbourne-based multimedia artist Josh Muir represents the aboriginal peoples of Yorta Yorta and Gunditjmara, whose vibrant street art will adorn the pavilion’s interactive “Welcome Stories” tunnel.
In line with the country’s technological advances, the tunnel, designed in collaboration with Accolade Event Management, features digital screens to enhance visual storytelling. “Visitors will be greeted by Australian faces, animals, landscapes and landmarks as they walk through the tunnel in a truly captivating experience,” said McGowan.
The digital art program organized by the pavilion under the title ‘Australian Indigenous Art Program‘is intended to showcase the works of various Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists. Headliners include Brisbane-based contemporary artist and illustrator Tori-Jay Mordey, whose colorful pieces explore her Torres Strait Islander and English heritage; Tahlia Palmer, of Yuwaalaraay and Gomeroi descent and her black and white photograph of The Gap in Torndirrup National Park; Joy Nangala Brown’s ‘dreaming’ stories or Aboriginal worldview manifested in patterned paintings and many more.
“We have Delvene Cockatoo-Collins, a Quandamooka woman who lives and works in Minjerribah – North Stradbroke Island, who operates her business” Minjerribah Art Studio and Cottage “. We present some of her wonderful collection of hand-printed housewares McGowan added.
Threads of Aboriginal tales have also started to blend into the Emirati fabric, and the importance of such art will be highlighted by Rikki Dank, owner of Lajarri Indigenous Art Gallery in Dubai. In the same vein, the VIP “Majlis” balcony of the pavilion carries a work of art born of a cultural collaboration between the Emirati artist Khalid Mezaina and Wardandi Nyungar, and the artist of Ait Koedal Tyrown Waigana.
Have you ever heard of a snag in a bun?
In the shaded seats of the forecourt, a series of dining options will leave visitors spoiled for choice as only here will they have the chance to try kangaroo meat. The eclectic menu doesn’t end there when the portions also include a rub in a bun, which is a familiar Australian for a sausage in a bao (or steamed Chinese buns).
McGowan also listed the shrimp, avocado on toast, nostalgia in a packet for Australian expats’ Tim Tam cookies, and the Milo chocolate drink invented in Australia. He also said the pavilion will offer “the best coffee” on site, brewed by specialty coffee roasters Industry Beans.
Take photos with Wattle and his mate Jali
Young visitors will have a pair of special mascots to keep them entertained. Enter Wattle, the friendly koala, and Jali, the curious and free-spirited butterfly, which will sum up the lodge’s journey perfectly.
“Kids can meet these two dynamic characters as they move around the pavilion and will be delighted to pose with them for a happy snap,” McGowan added.
Since koalas are reputed to be representative of their native land, Wattle embodies the spirit of Australia. This character is often accompanied by his butterfly sidekick Jali, whose name translates to “tree” in the native Bundjalung language.
– The writer is an intern at Gulf News.