Indigenous artwork on V/Line train aims to educate Victorians about diversity of Aboriginal nations

Indigenous artwork at Vline

V/Line has unveiled a new design on one of its trains that aims to educate travellers about the diversity of Aboriginal groups across Victoria. The names of Victoria’s 38 Indigenous language groups can be seen weaved throughout the colourful piece.

Gunai and Yorta Yorta artist Dixon Patten designed the work, which is mainly featured along the outside of the train’s windows.

The artist behind a new design featured on a V/Line train says he hopes it will cause Victorians to “stop and reflect”. The symbolic work references dozens of different Indigenous groups across the state. V/Line says the work has been unveiled as part of their Reconciliation Action Plan.

“A lot of people in my community have been displaced, so it was designed to honour all country, place and community and to really highlight those travel routes across the state that keep mobs connected,” Mr Patten said.

“Right throughout Gippsland and northern Victoria we’ve got family in each and every town and when I’d travel with my nan – who we call the V/Line queen – we’d be making regular trips to visit everyone.”


Mr Patten with his grandmothers,
Mr Patten with his grandmothers, Rochelle Patten and Lena Thomas.(ABC Gippsland: Jedda Costa)

‘Indigenising’ spaces

V/Line launched the work as part of its Reconciliation Action Plan this week.

The train was one of the first to cross over the new Avon River rail bridge at Stratford, in the state’s east.

Mr Patten said he felt fortunate to use art as a way to “Indigenise” spaces that Aboriginal people may not have previously been able to access.

“A lot of the corporate world is now paying attention and acknowledging some of the injustices that Aboriginal people still face today,” he said.

“Although there’s still a lot of work to do, art can really educate the broader community about our culture.”


The design interior
The design features the names of all of Victoria’s 38 Aboriginal language groups.(ABC Gippsland: Jedda Costa)

Shared human experience

V/Line acting chief executive Gary Liddle said it was important for companies to gain a better understanding of the communities in which they operate as they work to achieve reconciliation.

“The emu feet and kangaroo paws on the design represent the notion of always moving forward and not moving back,” he said.

“That’s an important part of transport itself … it’s always about the journey and learning.”

Mr Patten said he hoped the design would prompt broader conversations about Aboriginal art and its ability to inform.

“I wanted to create the work not just through an Aboriginal lens but a human lens, in the sense that we all share a human experience of journey and travel,” he said.

“The shield on the artwork represents the strength and resilience in our communities despite all of our hardships.

“I also added the message stick, which was used as a cultural passport to travel through different parts of the country, and the boomerang represents returning back to country.

“I hope when people see the art work that it makes them stop, think and reflect on the vast land that is regional Victoria.”

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