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Burrinja Cultural Centre Upwey, 3158

Burrinja is a vibrant community cultural centre in the Dandenong Ranges that encompasses performing and visual arts programs. Burrinja offers several exhibition spaces, a performing arts space, a professional 400-seat theatre, artist studios, workshops spaces and a cafe. Burrinja provides a varied program of activities and events including Indigenous cultural exhibitions and education, contemporary art exhibitions, performances art programs, educational activities and workshops, and live music. Burrinja is the operational name for the Dandenong Ranges Community Cultural Centre Inc. The centre is a not-for-profit arts organisation, incorporated in 1999. Burrinja is governed by an independent Committee of Management, that includes Yarra Ranges Council representation.


Contact Information

351 Glenfern Rd Upwey Victoria 3158 (map)
+61 397548723


Opening Hours

Tuesday - Sunday 10.00 am - 4 pm

Entry Fee

free (fees apply to some exhibitions)


Cnr Glenfern Rd and Matson Dr Upwey 3158

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The McLeod Gift Collection, managed by Burrinja, on behalf of its owner, Yarra Ranges Council, is a rare collection of Aboriginal and Pacific art. Two-thirds are Aboriginal art including bark and canvas paintings, drawings and obeject from predominately Central Australia, the Kimberley and Arnhem Land. The reminder are ceremonial objects from New Ireland and New Britain provinces in Papua New Guinea.


The Collection reflects on the collecting activities by photographer, artists and Dandenong Ranges resident Neil McLeod. Many of the items in the Pacific collection were collected by McLeod on one of his many field trips to New Guinea where he purchased or commissioned the works. Most of the objects in the Pacific Collection originate in the post-independence period of New Guinea, with some works produced by master carvers including Ben Sisia, Edward Sali and Hosea Linge. McLeod maintains on-going relationships with some of the families of the artists, and is a regular visitor to the country.

Likewise the Aboriginal art collection was gathered in the 1990s when McLeod visited the Kimberley and Arnhem Land, and developed strong relationships with some of the artists and their families represented in the collection, namely Rover Thomas, Queenie McKenzie, Jack Dale, David Mowaljarlai, Jonathan Kumintjarra Brown and members of the Nganjmirra family, including Nawakadj (Bobby), Alex and Eva.

Several of the works were produced at McLeod's studio in Tecoma, which at times was 'an artists' colony in the hills', also includes local resident Lin Onus, Kordelya Zhansui Chi and many others.

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12 items

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12 items

Malagan Tantanua Carved Wooden Mask

Burrinja Cultural Centre, Upwey

Carved wooden face mask with hollow eyes, nose and mouth. Decorated with ochre, yellow, black and white pigment. Top and back of mask is formed with plant serials, woven twine and reeds form the frame and mane down the centre and back of the mask. Hessian inside the mask.

Wanis Carved Wooden Mask

Burrinja Cultural Centre, Upwey

Wooden mask carved from log with small hollow at back. Decorated in ochre, yellow, black and white pigment with shells for eyes. Tongue extends from mouth and white tusks stretch between the mouth and the top of the head. Dried plant material covers the top of the head.

La Sisi Ceremonial Mask

Burrinja Cultural Centre, Upwey

Head mask with wood face and plant fibres surrounding the mask as a head and beard. Thin cane pieces extend out and are wrapped in green or red wool and hung with faded ribbons.

Iniet Sculpture: Male, hands on hips

Burrinja Cultural Centre, Upwey

Limestone carving of human figure standing on solid base, knees slightly bent, hands resting on hips. Narrow torso with protruding genitals. Facial features clearly defined. Mouth Wide and lips pouted.

Horizontal Frieze Decorative Malangan Carving

Burrinja Cultural Centre, Upwey

Flat rectangular background with rounded corners at top with high relief carving of two birds on each side, with a snake between them. The head of the snake is in one beak and the tail in the other. Decorated with yellow, black, ochre and white pigments.

Aboriginal painting - Rover Thomas Joomala - Mount House

Burrinja Cultural Centre, Upwey

Mostly black surface with an area of white on the right side and a brown band near the top, lined with white dots. Work show the 'black soil country'. Ochres on Canvas.

Aboriginal painting - Jack Wherra - Ancestral Spirit Dancers: Djumba

Burrinja Cultural Centre, Upwey

Two Djumba figures, both male on black background. Ochres on Canvas.

Maruda Rainmaking Carved Head

Burrinja Cultural Centre, Upwey

Large carved head in hardwood. Painted black with a red nose and brow. There is a small possum on the top front of the head and a bird on the crown.

Aboriginal painting - Paddy Jampin Jaminji - The Hills of Bedford Station

Burrinja Cultural Centre, Upwey

Large painting on board of symbolic landscape. Brown, yellow, cream and white. Framed.

Historical information

In around 1924 a band of Gija people crossed fences onto their traditional land near Bedford Downs Station in the East Kimberley 2000 km northeast of Perth and killed nine head of cattle. This act precipitated one of the massacres to become known as the 'killing times'. Paddy Quilty, the station owner of Bedford Downs had his men collect wagon loads of firewood which was distributed around the camp. He then invited everyone to assemble for their rations. The food, laced with strychnine, was handed out. As the Gija people fell down dying in agony, they were shot. The firewood was used to burn the bodies. One boy escaped to the the story. Paddy Jamin Jaminji (c.1922-1997) painted The Hills of Bedford Downs Station as part of a series of painting about the Killing Times. It depicts the story and sites of the massacre. At least twelve killing sites are recorded within a radius of 150 km of Turkey Creek, WA. The painting was possibly discarded due to its damage in one corner and later collected from an old shelter at Warmun on a field trip by collector Neil McLeod in 1995.

Djunba: Ceremonial Dance Board

Burrinja Cultural Centre, Upwey

Half circle shape with six Wandjina figures. Filled with dotting in red and white. Outer edge strung with bands of coloured wool.

Inscriptions & Markings

NM 1306

La Sisi Ceremonial Mask

Burrinja Cultural Centre, Upwey

Face made of bark, painted white, blue, red and pink. Dried swamp used to make hair with twisted cane, wrapped with fabric, on either side. Long pieces of matted, dried plant fibres attached to chin as beard.

Maruda Rainmaking Carved Head

Burrinja Cultural Centre, Upwey

Hollow head, cylindrical with 'dorsal' piece at the top of the head. Black pigment with some yellow and red. Mouth open, teeth shown, small ears and deeply carved eyes.