The Billabong Experience


Winton, QLD, Australia

The languid tones of the narrator, drifting snatches of audio and the rhythmic rise and fall of light in the darkened room create a lulling, ephemeral, slightly ethereal experience. After the full cycle of immersion, the song itself remains a riddle. Is it a requiem to rebellion or a rollicking knees-up? Is it the tale of an opportunist, an anarchist, a jolly soul or a jolly nuisance whose tragic fate is suicide, or it is homicide?
— Peter Skinner, Architecture Australia magazine

Arterial was commissioned to design the new Waltzing Matilda Centre exhibition space in Winton, Queensland. Destroyed by fire in 2015, the original Waltzing Matilda Centre was a cultural beacon of the Winton community, with literally thousands of artefacts and stories that showcased not only the essence of the song, but the people themselves.  To produce a truly immersive experience that took the visitor into the heart of country, we designed a four metre tall silicone rod curtain capable of projecting video and animated graphics inside and out, from eight large projectors. The authenticity of the experience is strengthened by real events and anecdotes shared by the community. The sound composition is made up of ambient recordings taken from the local landscape.

Waltzing Matilda.jpg

A unique visual and sensory experience, the Billabong is a storytelling space that holds the ghosts of the past, echoing the illusive story of the song and its resonance in Australia’s cultural history, as well as the dramatic forces that have shaped this ancient land and the people who survived them.

Watch the Billabong stories here: