The City of Parramatta’s newly named Yilabara path – a popular walking and cycling link between the CBD and River Foreshore – has recently undergone innovative enhancements. 

The Yilabara Path upgrade helps to revitalise the public space, boosts connectivity and  improves perceptions of safety through a combination of place naming, public artwork, street furniture and activations. 

‘Yilabara’, the Dharug word used to describe ‘quick way through’, was the most popular choice among three shortlisted Indigenous names chosen as part of community feedback, in consultation with Dharug Elders and members of the Aboriginal community.

The laneway provides direct access for people from Phillip Street to the Parramatta River foreshore via a stairway. It also connects with the Elizabeth Street footbridge and the northern side of the Parramatta River.

City of Parramatta engaged artists Tina Barahanos, Alexandra Byrne and Dharug artist Leanne Redpath Watson to paint a glow-in-the-dark ground mural which conveys the story of being guided at night by moonlight through Dharug Ngurra. 

The artwork theme ‘Passing Through Light’ is reminiscent of the moon shining over the laneway and Parramatta River.

The $130,000 project was delivered as a part of round two of Transport for NSW’s Places to Love Program and includes:

  • Artists Tina Barahanos, Alexandra Byrne and Leanne Redpath Watson created a first of its kind in Parramatta ground mural painted with a phosphorescent surface treatment that runs through the laneway enabling it to glow in the dark, improving the sense of safety at night and creating a unique point of interest
  • Connecting to the ground mural work is an overflow of the artwork onto the adjoining stairs featuring Dharug language. The illuminated paint is on the riser face of the steps leading from the laneway to the Parramatta River walkway
  • Naming the previously unnamed laneway, with artist Leanne Redpath Watson engaging with the Dharug community on name options and providing language guidance
  • Designing custom furniture so the community can rest near the Yilabara Path and Parramatta River without impacting walking and cycling movement along the popular route

The laneway is a key link for locals wanting to access the busy Parramatta CBD from the city’s north, with more than 2,100 people on average passing through the area each weekday.

The opening of this pathway upgrade coincides with the announcement of the third round of Places to Love, which will partner with three new councils to deliver a further $450,000 in public space enhancements. These are Albury City Council, Campbelltown City Council and Georges River Council. 

Member for Parramatta, Donna Davis, said that she is delighted to announce the completion of the Yilabara Path laneway upgrades. 

“This is a beautiful demonstration of how we can improve walkable access to local public spaces, particularly in streets and transport hub precincts,” Ms Davis said. 

“This project is also a striking display of how public spaces can be connected to the Dharug people’s unique connection to the land on which we all work, live and play.

“It is with great excitement that I announce the third round of Places to Love projects. This next round will be delivered in partnership with three councils with projects to be delivered by March 2025. 

“They will trial quick and low-cost approaches to make public spaces, like Parramatta’s Yilabara Path laneway, more vibrant and active using pop-ups and semi-permanent changes to test ideas and build the case for longer term change.” 

Parramatta City Council Lord Mayor, Pierre Esber, said that Yilabara Path provides an all-access pass for people on all sides of the beautiful Parramatta River to come into the bustling CBD.

“City of Parramatta is proud to honour the Dharug People through this valuable project and is proud to work with Transport for NSW to make this a reality,” Mayor Esber said. 

“Council’s beloved Warami Festival will feature the Yilabara Path as the main attraction for Stories Under The Stars and I can’t wait to see the Glow in the Dark mural.”

Featured image: The open Yilabara Path. Image credit: City of Parramatta Council. 

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