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Rock Hole Long Pipe was a community theatre production project staged in Coolgardie in 2008 and involved a broad cross section of the Coolgardie and Kambalda communities.

The performance told ancient and traditional stories of water from the Goldfields and was created by students from Coolgardie and Kambalda in a series of workshops run by animator Steve Aiton and community artist Poppy van Oorde-Grainger.

The Rock Hole Long Pipe performance was a vibrant, thrilling parade that weaved through the back streets of Coolgardie to the town’s central park and involved actors, musicians, a procession of over 100 students, poets, bikies and the local volunteer fire brigade.

Rock Hole Long Pipe told the story of central character Captain Cool Guardia and his return from the Western Desert with a caged uncontrollable and ugly monster – a giant echidna. Captain Cool Guardia agreed to release the echidna, but only if the audience completed three tasks.

Along the way the performance involved larger than life animations created by the students that were projected onto the walls of the town and large lanterns, which were spectacularly set alight during the performance as a memorial to the large fires that once swept through the Coolgardie area.

The end of the procession at Coolgardie Park was marked with the release of the giant echidna and a stunning fireworks display.

The development phase of Rock Hole Long Pipe required extensive community consultation across the entire community, in particular with the Madawanga-Galagoo people of Coolgardie.

The project involved two schools in Coolgardie and two schools in Kambalda, local community organisations, local Aboriginal Elders and non-Aboriginal leaders, local cultural advisors, artists and performers from the community and elsewhere.

CAN produced a publication in line with the project, ‘Captain Cool Guardia, the Monster and the Girl: The story of the Rock Hole Long Pipe Project’. The book tells the fairytale from the performance and articulates the process and production of the Rock Hole Long Pipe project.

CAN would like to express our deepest sorrow for the passing of a young girl (her name is not mentioned for cultural reasons) who participated in the Rock Hole Long Pipe project. We invite you to reflect how precious life is, in her memory.

Our resolve to keep working with Aboriginal communities is strengthened. We will continue creating spaces and places for people to express themselves, their joys and sorrows, through the arts. It is our collective responsibility to ensure young people in our society want to live and thrive.

In memory of a young Aboriginal girl who, in The Captain Cool Guardia story, was the hero.

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