Trocadero Projects operates on the Traditional lands of the Boon Wurrung and Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation. We offer our respects to Elders past and present, and acknowledge that sovereignty was never ceded. Always was, always will be Aboriginal land.

Cristea Nian Zhao | My home is on a Swamp

My home is on a Swamp (the Practice of Belonging and Un-belonging)
Cristea Nian Zhao


I want to acknowledge the Boonwurrung and Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation, who are the Traditional Owners of the land on which I live, developed and performed this work. I pay my respect to their Elders, past, present and emerging.

I am inviting you on a journey with me; our destination is my ‘home’, this ‘home’ once belonged to a swamp named Carrum Carrum.

We will be taking the Frankston Line train, the 901 Bus, and then a short walk. It might not be the fastest route but no matter where you depart in Melbourne, the journey will make sense when you arrive.

If you’re leaving from the inner suburbs, Flinders Street Station, Richmond Station, or South Yarra Station will be the most accessible. Make sure to pick a window seat on the right-hand side (forward-facing).

Patience is important on a long train ride, sit back and relax.

On the right, Port Phillip Bay will reveal itself against the sky the moment you pass Parkdale Station. The next station is Mordialloc. Soon you will be riding over the Mordialloc Creek, one of two natural water channels leading to Port Phillip Bay. The bay view will accompany you shoulder to shoulder through Mordialloc, Aspendale, Edithvale, Chelsea, Bonbeach, Carrum to Seaford. I encourage you to keep an eye out for a waterway somewhere in between Bonbeach and Carrum Stations. That is Patterson River, a man-made river cut into Port Phillip Bay in the late 19th century—through which the Carrum Carrum Swamp was drained.

We will get off the train at Kananook Station, just one stop before the end of the line. The 901 Bus stop is across the street when you exit the Train Station. You won’t miss it. Stay on the 901 Bus for 15 stops. Get off at the stop Bunurong Memorial Park/790 Frankston-Dandenong Rd.

When you arrive, you will be in front of Bunurong Memorial Park, a cemetery established the same year I was born. Walk deep into the cemetery, soon you will catch a glimpse of a wooden footbridge over an artificial lake. Pass over it. Go straight ahead. Here, you will shortly encounter a two-way road, as you cross it you will see my ‘home’—my performance will take place at this location.

I invite you to roam around with me, and wander on the land that once belonged to a swamp.

Explore Cristea Nian Zhao's project here.

My home is on a Swamp (the Practice of Belonging and Un-belonging) is a research-based project that combines video, still images and a personal written narrative. Challenging the notion of ‘home’ and ‘belongingness’, Cristea Zhao's provokes a psychological process of reclaiming the past, while searching for what is not there and calling for those who cannot answer.

Cristea Nian Zhao has a background in film. She has written and directed several narrative short films and documentaries. Since immigrating to Australia in 2018, her practice has expanded into performance, video installation and text-based work. Language, spoken narrative and shared listening are crucial to her practice. Her interest is in unearthing various forms of loss from personal history and collective memory. The possibility/impossibility of mourning and reconciliation frequently lies beneath her works. Zhao recently graduated from RMIT with a Masters in Fine Arts.