40, 000 Years Is A Long Time

Aboriginal Street Art of Redfern

40, 000 Years Is A Long Time

Sydney, New South Wales 2016, Australia

Created By: Caitlin Preston

Point of Interest Details

40, 000 Years Is A Long Time was completed in 1983 by artist Carol Ruff. Over thirty years of exposure to the elements has left the wall cracked and the paint peeling,[1] but the mural still stands to pay tribute to the proud Aboriginal history and culture of the area.

The prominent feature of the mural, lyrics from Joe Geia’s song “40, 000 Years” span the length of the wall. Ms Ruff says that “We were trying to say that even before Redfern, Aboriginal people have been there, have been in that area, have known this country, this place.”[2]

Spanning the length of the wall opposite Redfern Station, the mural tells a story as you work from left to right. Starting with two Aboriginal feet, symbolising how Aboriginal people were the first people in Australia, the story progresses through time depicting key events, including the 40, 000 years that Aboriginal people spent living traditional lifestyles. The story progresses through to the arrival of European settlers and the consequences they had on Aboriginal people, particularly those from the Redfern area and surrounds. The story continues to the stolen generations, but ends on the street signs of Lawson and Eveleigh Street, representing ‘present day’ Redfern and the perseverant nature of Aboriginal people.[3] “We’ll never go away, we’re here, we’ve come back, we haven’t lost our culture and we have survived,” says Ms Ruff.[4] Woven throughout the piece is the Rainbow Serpent, symbolising the continuity of Aboriginal culture.

Since its creation in 1983, the mural has been an important part of the streets of Redfern, and remains as such today.

[1] Lee, A. (2013) Restoring Redfern’s 40,000 years mural.

[2] Ms Carol Ruff.

[3] Lee, A. (2013) Restoring Redfern’s 40,000 years mural.

[4] Ms Carol Ruff.

This point of interest is part of the tour: Aboriginal Street Art of Redfern


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