The History of The Big Owl
The Big Owl in Darwin, Northern Territory, is also known as the Tawny Frogmouth Owl or Chinute Chinute. It is located along the walkway from Smith Street Mall to Darwin Waterfront, adjacent to the Stoke Hill sacred site and the Supreme Court building.
The Big Owl sculpture was unveiled on-site in March 2010 by the then Northern Territory Arts and Museum Minister Gerry McCarthy. The Giant Owl sculpture stands as a landmark of the walkway and a significant monument for the Larrakia people.
The Tawny Frogmouth Owl is a unique species of the bird, and is native to Australia. However, for the Larrakia people, it is more than just a unique bird; the Big Owl represents their spiritual ancestor called Chinute Chinute. It is believed that his spirit manifests itself as the Tawny Frogmouth Owl and stands guard at the Waterfront at the sacred Stoke Hill site.
The Big Owl was designed by Koolpinyah Richard Barnes, an indigenous artist and leader of the Larrakia people. Before creating the Big Owl, Barnes participated in the Gatherings Workshop series of 2007 and 2008, which featured art from indigenous artists in the Northern Territory.
It was during the workshop that he presented his original, 4.5-metre-tall Tawny Frogmouth sculpture. Later, he was commissioned to recreate the same sculpture for the public space, worked with pattern makers from the workshop, and finally came up with the Big Owl cast in bronze.
The Big Owl is not the only one of its kind featuring in the list of Big Things of Australia. You will also find the Big Powerful Owl in Belconnen, Canberra.
The owl sculptures aside, other significant bird species are well-represented in the list of Big Things of Australia, such as:
- The Big Galahs in Watson, ACT
- The Big Kookaburra in Kurru Kurri, NSW
- The Big Chook in Mount Vernon, NSW