Main Roads Proposal for support to create a documentary and book on the Genestreams of Gondwana Link public art tourism trail

In 2017 artist Ben Beeton undertook an artist residency project with the Gondwana Link organization in Albany. During the project he met Aunty Carol Pettersen who was working with students of Professor Steve Hopper. Aunty Carol showed Ben the map of the Songlines of the South West by Dr Noel Nannup. Aunty Carol then asked Ben if there was a way that a sculpture could be designed that would bring everything that Gondwana Link was about together to share culture, conservation and science.

After many years of experimenting with designs Ben developed the Genestreams sculpture which was based on virtual reality designs he had used at ANU to teach students of biology and earth sciences about the tree of life. The sculpture features local aboriginal artists work on the outside of the sculpture and field naturalist work on the inside of the sculpture in the form of a giant regional map. Ben invited renowned scientific illustrator Mali Moir to bring her skills to the project and provide workshops for communities when possible. Each petal in the sculpture represents a local species with focus on threatened and endemic species as well as important evolutionary stories. The baseplate depicts an evolutionary tree showing where the selected species share common ancestry. People enter the sculpture through a place which represents all of humanity, when they look down they can see where humans share common ancestry with the other selected species.

The first Genestreams Sculpture was opened in 2021 at the Porongurup with the support of Gondwana Link. We then tested the first Augmented Reality Genestreams Sculpture at Mount Magnet during the Astro Rocks festival, and then opened a second physical sculpture in the Bunya Mountains in Queensland through support from the Bunya Peoples Aboriginal Corporation. A second Augmented Reality sculpture has now been tested at Kellerberrin with the support of GeoParks WA.

Lotterywest has now supported the development of the first tourism trail of Genestreams Sculptures across south-western Australia – the Genestreams of Gondwana Link. It consists of 9 sites which include, Kings Park, Capel, Northcliffe, Denmark, Twin Creeks nature reserve at the Porongurup, Bremer Bay, Ravensthorpe, Wave Rock and Kellerberrin.

Alongside Lotterywest our sponsors include Hartway Galvanizers, BlueScope, Vulcan and all contributing shires. We received over 70 letters of support for the project which can be viewed below.

Genestreams Sculptures have been designed to tell significant scientific and cultural stories through the engaging and accessible language of visual art. We are now making the next steps towards building a national network of sculptures, that share through art the many intriguing conservation, scientific and first nations stories across Australia. We envisage this project being an extra incentive to many people who are considering undertaking self drive holiday experience.

Most recently a delegation from Singapore Gardens by the Bay saw the Bunya Mountains Genestreams sculpture and then registered their interest in having a Genestreams sculpture to be put on display in their Australian pavilion as a permanent feature in Singapore.

This is an important stage in the project. To tell the story and promote the possibility of a national network of sculptures to form a tourism trail, we are reaching out to Main Roads to financially support creation of a documentary film, with an accompanying book. A summary reel for the proposed documentary may be viewed below. In each of the communities involved we have a large number of volunteers who will support us in creating the documentary and book . but we do not at the stage have a patron.

Our project enriches the travel experience for road users. In a number of cases the roads overlap the first peoples walking trails as travel routes which we are seeking to bring to prominence and further recognition through the project. Having the book and documentary developed and secured as legacy items will make a huge difference in our capacity to unfold the project across the rest of Australia. Our initiative has a strong interest in securing our message as a presence in the schooling curriculum, we have been told directly by teachers that the book and documentary would help us a great deal in achieving this goal. Sponsorship and patronage for the project thus far is valued at well over $800,000. Our key ask of Main Roads is to support the cost to production of the book and documentary at a cost of $200, 000. Our objective is to have the documentary broadcast on ABC or SBS. We will distribute the book nation wide to book stores, schools and libraries. Full accreditation and recognition would be given to Main Roads for financial support.


Selected Short Films

Perspectives from Keith Bradby OAM and Aunty Carol Pettersen OAM on the Genestreams Sculptures

Concept film for the documentary

National Regional & Economic Development Summit 2023 Presentation

Dr Noel Nannup Perspectives

TEDX Presentation

Discussion Panel following the opening of the first Genestreams Sculpture


Projects Thus Far

Genestreams Sculptures National Tourism Trail Vision 

2023 Alice Springs Genestreams Sculpture AR 

2022/23 Kellerberrin Genestreams Sculpture AR 

2022 Ravensthorpe Range Artist Residency 

2022 Bonye Bair (Bunya Mountains) Genestreams Sculpture  

2021 Mount Magnet Genestreams Sculpture AR & Mural for Astro Rocks Festival  

2021 Twin Creeks Genestreams Sculpture


Artwork for latest Augmented Reality sculpture project soon to be launched in Alice Springs

Mount Magnet artwork for Augmented Reality sculpture

Kellerberrin artworks for augmented Reality sculpture

The Genestreams sculptures have a legacy of bringing communities together. In the Porongurup region it was wonderful to see how a Genestreams Sculpture project brought so many different people together from various backgrounds and disciplines who would not have, under normal circumstances crossed paths. The young people were so amazed by what they saw. The excitement and consciousness raising that they experienced in learning with their parents was a pleasure to watch. Since its opening we have taken many school groups out to learn about the land and the culture through the Genestreams Sculpture. I witnessed a very similar situation unfold at Mount Magnet during the Astro Rocks Festival 2020 when the Genestreams Songlines Mural was exhibited, and the first Genestreams Augmented Reality Sculpture was tested. The Genestreams outlook has enjoyed success because it actively invites broad participation and includes perspectives on land care and sustainable land management to build an informed and inclusive future in preparing for drought in the face of climate change.” Elder Aunty Carol Pettersen OAM JP

Genestreams Sculptures Team Members

Note: Every sculpture project has a range of different local contributors. These are local artists, conservationists, traditional owners and scientists. This list provides information on the core members who, have been involved in the project since its inception. The proposed documentary will feature these core participants.

Ben Beeton

Co-founder of the Genestreams Sculptures Initiative, Creator of the Genestreams toolkit for visualizing and interacting with the Tree of Life

Ben Beeton has completed over 40 artist residency projects around Australia and abroad focusing on the ecology, geology and deep time history of natural systems. Alongside designing the Genestreams toolkit for exploring the Tree of Life and the Genestreams Sculptures Ben Beeton is the creator of the SciArt website. “My art drops a thread through aspects of the ecology, geology and deep time history of natural systems. My process of creating art is a learning experience from which has grown an active interest in scientific model making. As I travelled across Australia and abroad learning from scientists, indigenous elders and conservationists about the special natural environments which they studied and cared for, I envisaged an interactive educational website that would share their stories of country. As a consequence I developed SciArt, a website which along with showcasing my art allows access to the knowledge shared with me by many learned people that has inspired my art. I have completed many artist residency projects focusing on the study of natural systems across Australia including being invited to accompany the Burke & Wills Environmental Expedition as artist. I am convinced that the Tree of Life is a hugely underutilized resource from which we can gain a deeper understanding of connectivity between all of life on Earth. It was for this reason that I developed the Genestreams toolkit. I am, with Aunty Carol a co-founder of the Genestreams Sculptures program which followed on from an inspiring question from Aunty Carol Pettersen. I am a co-founder of the Art of Nature School with Mali Moir“.  

Aunty Carol Pettersen OAM

Co-founder of the Genestreams Sculptures Initiative, Projects Ambassadors, Cultural Advisor

Aunty Carol Pettersen OAM is a Justice of the Peace, cultural advisor wer Elder belonging to the Minung-Gnudju people of the Noongar Nation in the southwest of Western Australia. She was born at Gnowangerup Mission wer is the daughter of Kathleen Gray wer the granddaughter of Johnny Knapp. Carol is also the Co-Founder Indigenous Children’s Hygiene Initiative. In 2015, The City of Albany recognised the work wer dedication by Carol over decades in Albany by renaming the Albany Town Hall after her. As a Justice of the Peace, Carol is involved with the Mubarn Maaman as an advocate for social justice on behalf of Noongar moort. She has authored several books to promote and preserve Noongar language and culture. Carol’s passion is the reconstruction of an Indigenous interpretive trail to honour the Gnudju women. These women walked from Esperance to Albany and back to supported their husbands who were taken from Esperance and jailed in Albany for breaching the WA Native Welfare act of 1905 (masters and servants act for insorbordination). The reconstruction of the trail will trace the footsteps of these brave women and breathe life into their traditional walk trail. Carol’s other passion is ensuring that her grandchildren and great-grandchildren have the opportunity to embrace their language and culture through traditional experiences.

Keith Bradby OAM

Project Facilitator

Keith Bradby OAM is Gondwana Link Chief Executive Officer. Keith has worked directly for two State Cabinet Ministers and indirectly for a third – across the political divide. This included representing the WA Minister in development of the initial National Landcare Program. As a public servant in the 1990s he managed and reformed the Peel-Harvey catchment program and then drove the process that ended large scale land clearing in south-western Australia. Keith has consulted to emerging large landscape efforts in New Zealand, southern Africa and Mexico, and is a former Chair of the WA Landcare Network and a former Deputy Chair of the National Landcare Network. He has authored and co-authored numerous academic publications, produced one book and involved in the production of two documentary films and a number of video shorts. Keith was instrumental in establishing Gondwana Link in 2002 and has led the program since.

Mali Moir

Scientific IllustratorConcept creator of ‘The Red List’ Exhibition

Mali Moir has an extensive history in the field of scientific illustration and field naturalist projects, an award-winning Botanical, Scientific and Natural History Artist and teacher began her career at the National Herbarium of Victoria and was a major contributor to Flora of Victoria. By working closely with botanists, Mali has gained an understanding of the importance of scientific accuracy, the fundamentals of precise measurement and thorough depiction of detail. Mali’s field experiences include Expedition Artist with Museum Victoria and ‘Our Planet Revisited PNG’ with French Natural History Museum. In Australia she led ‘Beckler’s Botanical Bounty’, a 10-year project encompassing Art, Science, History & Country where dedicated enthusiasts re-collected, documented and illustrated plant species originally collected on the Burke & Wills expedition in 1860. Currently Mali works in collaboration with artist Ben Beeton on the Genestreams Sculpture project from WA to the Bunya Mountains in Queensland. Mali’s interest in the areas of conservation and species documentation contributes to her sincere belief that ‘artists make science visible’ and is now developing online teaching programs to promote the value of engaging in the richness of our natural world. Working in the Accurate Realism style, Mali’s dedication combines her fascination for the natural sciences with an active desire to render works of art with beauty, character and scientific integrity. 

Gary Muir

Phylogenetic Tree Research for the Genestreams Sculptures, Science Communicator

Gary Muir has, for the past 25 years, eco-guide Gary Muir has run the famous WOW Wilderness Eco-Cruises in the heart of the Walpole Nornalup National Park and the Walpole and Nornalup Inlets Marine Park. Through his business and connection with the community, his is able to share his passion for this remarkable part of the world which he and his family have been connected to for generations. Gary won the FACET Golden Guide Award in 2003 after nearly a decade of guiding with WOW Wilderness Eco-CruisesGary is a Parks Ambassador. Gary was involved in the development of the Valley of Giants Tree Top Walk.

Ben Price

Project consultant, Science Communicator

Ben Price acted as scientific communicator for the mural “Wave Rock, the Tsunami of Deep Time“. He is the co-creator with Ben Beeton of the model of the super continent cycle and the tracing of Australia’s ancient cratons. In his capacity as an accredited tour guide Ben Price visited both the first Genestreams Sculpture in the Porongurups in Western Australia and the second Genestreams Sculpture in the Bunya Mountains in Queensland. He then developed with Ben Beeton a course for tour guides to guide them on how to introduce people to the Genestreams Sculptures. “With diverse life and professional experience, I have worked across the education, travel, tourism, and hospitality sectors throughout Australia and around the world. In education, I have worked with the Aṉangu of Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa as a Vocational Education and Training (VET) Lecturer with Charles Darwin University, and with the Arrernte of Mparntwe as a tour guide at Alice Springs Desert Park. In travel, I have ventured far and wide throughout 50+ countries, as well as lived and worked in South America, Eastern Europe, and Hong Kong, learning their languages and cultures. Whilst I’m not a First Nations Australian, I cannot help myself but to be drawn into their timeless legacy. When it comes to our richly-storied land, it simply makes sense to listen to Australia’s First Peoples with over 60,000 years’ experience on their CV. Central Australia has taught me that cultural knowledge is scientific knowledge: Tjukurpa mulapa, Arratye alpelaye. It’s true, … and it really works as it must. To survive in this harsh and unforgiving land, you must be squared away with its reality as it really is, not as you would dream it to be. Linguistically, Central Australia has shown me that cultural knowledge is also imaginative, musical yet disciplined and precise, playfully winnowing deep thoughts from utter nonsense. Sustainably, it has also revealed what it is to be Australian with a life that is abundant, convenient, and predictable. For me, I am as much of an advocate for illuminating the benefits of our precious cultural legacy as I am for communicating science through art. Since we’ve been human and before that time we and our ancestors have sought to be able to see the world around us in more detail, it’s one of the things that makes us human. In an attempt to see the macrocosm of the universe in further detail we have built telescopes to bring those fuzzy points of light in the night sky into detail and now we can detect planets around the stars and map the great wall of galaxies. So too in the effort to see the microcosm in further detail we have continued to refine the microscope. The satellites that we’ve launched, orbiting the planet now could look at the surface of the earth and see in incredible detail. We’ve built machines to detect the atomic makeup of the universe, we’ve come so far since our ancient burrowing ancestors took to the trees and evolved a body that had the potential to make tools. We continue every year to fulfil our natural impulse to endeavor to see in further detail. But what of the Tree of Life?”

Mark Hewson

Sculptures Construction Project Manager

Mark Hewson has a long history in designing and building public artworks in the region. He is also the co-owner of Torbay Glass Studios. In 2006 Mark was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to study architectural glass techniques in Iceland, Europe, America and New Zealand. Mark and Paris are members of Australian and international glass societies.

Nathan McQuoid

Scientific Consultant

Nathan McQuoid is a Landscape Ecologist specializing in interpretation, investigation, conservation planning and management of southwestern landform and vegetation systems; focusing on south coast, wheatbelt and southwest goldfields landscapes. Interests and experience includes flora and vegetation interpretation and survey, vegetation management, disturbance ecology, management plan development, nature trail planning, landscape and vegetation relationships, trends in conservation land management, Fitzgerald Biosphere. With Simon Nevill, Nathan is co-author of the “Guide to the wildflowers of Western Australia


Project Ambassadors

Dr Noel Nannup OAM

Project Ambassador, Cultural Consultant

Dr Noel Nannup OAM is a well-respected Nyoongar Elder. He created the map of the Songlines of the South West and is a heritage consultant. He has been named NAIDOC Male Elder of the Year, and is ECU’s Elder in Residence. He is a known story teller and cultural guide, instructor and mentor. Throughout Noel’s life he has worked to promote public awareness of the importance of caring for the environment. His career has been dedicated to educating young Western Australians about the rich cultural heritage of Aboriginal people and their lands; and, throughout that process, Noel has played an active and leading role in reconciliation. He has presented with Professor Steve Hopper on SYNERGIES: Walking Together – Belonging to Country.

Professor Stephen Donald Hopper AC FLS FTSE

Project Ambassador, Scientific Consultant

Professor Stephen Donald Hopper AC FLS FTSE is a Western Australian botanist. He graduated in Biology, specialising in conservation biology and vascular plants. Hopper has written eight books, and has over 200 publications to his name. He was Director of Kings Park in Perth for seven years, and CEO of the Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority for five. He is currently Foundation Professor of Plant Conservation Biology at The University of Western Australia. He was Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew from 2006 to 2012. Professor Hopper collaborates with Noongar elders in the south-west to better understand through an ancient knowledge-system how “one of the richest cultures on the planet” interacts with the landscape. Here is author of the OCBIL (old, climatically buffered, infertile landscapes) theory and a strong supporter of the Gonwana Link program.

Dr Petter Ellyard

Project Futurist

Peter Ellyard is a futurist, strategist, speaker, and author, who lives in Melbourne. Originally a biochemist, and a soil and plant scientist, he is a graduate of Sydney University and Cornell University (Ph.D). He formally became a futurist upon his appointment as CEO of the Australian Commission for the Future in 1988. Peter’s work seeks to assist nations, organisations, communities, and individuals to construct their own pathways to achieve future success. Before working as a futurist, Peter held CEO positions in several public sector organisations over eighteen years. These included two associated with environment and planning and one with industry and technology. He was also Senior Adviser in the office of three environment ministers in the Australian Government in Canberra. Peter is a fellow of the Australian College of Educators, the Environment Institute of Australia and New Zealand, and the Australian Institute of Management. He has advised the United Nations system and has acted as a senior adviser/consultant to the UNEP, UNDP, and UNESCO. Peter has worked in several developing and transitional countries in South-East and East Asia and the Pacific. He was a special adviser to the 1992 Earth Summit in the fields of biodiversity and climate change. He contributed to the preparation of the Framework Conventions in both these areas. His latest book is The Future Knowledge Compendium a curriculum for thriving in the 21st century (2023). Peter is currently establishing a new online academy The Future Knowledge Academy to further his work. He has more complete biographies on Wikipedia and at He has been a mentor to Ben Beeton for over 20 years. If the proposed project goes ahead Peter will share his perspectives on ‘Building Preferred Futures’ through a series of in discussion recordings which will be available for community access through the project.


Dr Alan Briggs, President of GeoParks WA

Project Ambassador

After 40 years in Western Australian government working in forestry, land conservation and management; recreation and tourism; a 3-year appointment as Policy Officer (Forests) to the Minister for Forests, and 5-years managing the Natural Heritage program in the WA National Trust, Alan retired from the government in 2010. Using his MBA (Tourism, Edith Cowan University), Alan lectured in a range of tourism units at ECU from 1997, becoming an Adjunct Lecture in 2009. In 2010, Alan lectured full time in tourism at Murdoch University (2011), reappointed part time in 2012 to mid-2016. Alan established Natural Heritage and Culture (NHC) for consultancy work, is still a FACET member, and has strong interests in Eco-tourism, Geo-tourism, and Geo-parks as well as Indigenous engagement in land management, tourism and Geoparks. Alan studied towards a PhD (2012, Murdoch University) focusing on stakeholder perceptions of establishing a Geopark in the Wheatbelt of Western Australia.

Project Wildlife Photographer


Photographer, Naturalist, Author and Publisher

Steve is a passionate and highly motivational speaker, writer, teacher and photographic artist, and one of few Australian photographers who can look back over five-plus decades of photography across a range of Australian social and natural history subjects. Steve pioneered underwater nature photography with the Australian Museum, leading to his first publishing ventures in the late ’60s. He now manages the nation’s largest and most comprehensive privately owned photographic library; this vast resource has created all his projects. Steve started publishing in dive magazines in Australia and New Zealand at 18. Since then, he has shared his work with the Australian community through thousands of publications, talks, exhibitions, and public events. In 1985, Steve Parish launched the signature brand Steve Parish Publishing. Over thirtyfour years, Steve’s brand became a significant award-winning multimillion-dollar business, at its peak employing 125 staff with annual sales of $15 million. Unrivalled by any publisher, along with its in-house sales and distribution network, the publishing company serviced over 3500 accounts. The team created an extensive Australian and Natural History publication program across many categories for all ages. Many publications are updated and still available, and many titles sold in tens of thousands, receiving international acclaim. Today, Steve resides in the Blackall Range on the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, where he and his partner are building an autonomous family community. From his digital studio, he and his family steer Steve Parish – Nature Connect, an internet portal that offers publishing, library services, fine art decor, and photographic education Australia-wide.


Reflected in the 3 pages below we see the 3 components of our initiative being conservation, culture and science communicated through art.

Letters of Support

Project Ambassadors


Contributing Shires & community groups within those shires


Project Science Communicators


Project Filmographer


Other Letters of Support