The first stage of our work on the interpretation of The Gully Aboriginal Place in 2012 was to determine how the interpretive signage could be included into the existing plans to establish a hard surface 1.2km loop walk throughout the precinct.
Most precinct planning prior to us being engaged, had simply assumed that an even dispersal of signs would occur along the path length as is commonly done in these situations.
We proposed an alternative approach however whereby a series of signage clusters were develop supported by significant landscape interventions to highlight these precincts.
The expectations and overall aesthetic responses people bring with them into an interpretive setting will have a crucial bearing on the way they respond to and interpret the information they encounter within it.
Accordingly, interpretation must ensure – in so far as it is possible to do so – that it takes control over the broader setting within which people encounter its messages, so as to maximise the chances that people will attach meaning and relevance to the material they encounter there.
Consider for example a setting where signage is placed alongside a corridor. Most people in a corridor environment are focussed on going somewhere, not on their immediate surroundings. Accordingly most corridor users will not be in a receptive mind space to take in the information that may be being presented to them.
Consider however, if that same corridor had nodes along its length where people broke out of the contained corridor into a more general ambient space – a node that invited them to stop, step aside from their ‘journey’ for a moment and take in what was on offer.
Here the chance of people approaching that space with a different set of expectations is heightened. The setting defines it as a space apart, a place that calls for a different unconscious response as people enter into it.
Additionally such nodes can invite a different response on the part of a small group entering, whereby people walking previously in single or double file can congregate together around the signage easily to take in its messages.
Nodes can be a simple ‘step to the left’ that invite you to step aside from your path. This approach was used to establish the first node along the interpretive trail.
Nodes can be included into the pathway to invite people to stop en route. This approach was used to establish the second node along the interpretive trail.
Nodes can also be ‘out and back’ side trips to access a specific feature just off the main trail. This approach was used to establish the third node along the interpretive trail.