A free children’s activity pack celebrating the native species being planted in central Geelong and their amazing uses to Wadawurrung Traditional Owners has been released in time for the school holidays.

Created with illustrations by artist and proud Wadawurrung woman Kait James, the pack features four families of native species – dianellas, wattles, eucalypts and native grasses – with colouring and writing activities for children and facts on how the plants were used by Traditional Owners of the Geelong region.

The species will soon be planted as part of landscaping works for the Wurriki Nyal Civic Precinct and Block 1 of Revitalising Central Geelong’s Green Spine. The two projects will add an estimated 8,600 new individual plants and trees to Central Geelong in the next six months in a significant ‘greening’ of Geelong’s urban centre.

Native plants were an important source of food, medicine and building materials to Wadawurrung Traditional Owners. From crushing berries for dye to making medicine to treat infection, the Aboriginal People of the Greater Geelong region unlocked a wealth of knowledge about the plants and animals around them.

Artist Kait James said the activities were a great way for children and parents alike to learn about the traditional uses of common native plant species. “I’ve really enjoyed drawing these species and sharing their special uses, especially whilst they were flowering.”

“When I started the beautiful eucalypts and blackwood wattle were in bloom and now the dianella are flowering. I love being able to spot them in parks and gardens and know what they were traditionally used for.”

Cr Jim Mason, Chair of the Environment and Aboriginal Affairs portfolios said it was exciting to see more native species being planted in Central Geelong. “Wurriki Nyal will add 2,550sqm of new public landscaped space to Central Geelong for our community to enjoy.”

“Geelong’s Traditional Owners have had an important voice in the landscaping design, and it’s wonderful to see the focus on native plant species come through,” Cr Mason said. “I certainly learned something new from Kait’s fantastic work on these materials, and I’m excited to be able to share them with the community.”

The activity sheets will be made available at various local businesses along the Green Spine, at the Geelong Botanic Gardens and the National Wool Museum for the Geelong Nature Forum. Printable versions are also free to download at Wurriki Nyal Native Plants Childrens Activity - City of Greater Geelong (geelongaustralia.com.au).

Revitalising Central Geelong will complete the Gheringhap Street to Moorabool Street section of its Green Spine linear park by December 2021.

Named in Wadawurrung words meaning ‘speak and talk together’, the City of Greater Geelong’s new Civic Precinct at Wurriki Nyal is expected to be completed by mid-2022.