Walk on Country
We acknowledge Jagera and Muunjali traditional owners Madonna Thomson, James Bonner, Shoshana William and the Indigenous members of Nyanda Cultural Tours are all the descendants of Jung-Jung (Roger Bell) fully initiated Yagara man and Ida Sandy a descendant of Alexander Sandy a fully initiated Yugarapul man. We pay respect to their Elders past, present and emerging.
We also acknowledge the Turrbal people on whose unceded lands we walked in the place now known as Nardah Nudgee Waterhole Reserve and acknowledge their Elders past, present and emerging.
As part of our journey towards reconciliation the CSIA team took time out to come together for a walk on country.
In this blog we bring you the story of that walk through photos and reflections from the CSIA team.
The day started with a smoking ceremony, fire-making and welcome to country.
“When the fire wasn’t lighting, there wasn’t a panic. It was more like, ‘Oh, well, we’ll just keep going until it lights.’ And I felt a kind of a calmness. I think when you do events, you’re always sticking to a tight schedule. So, I really enjoyed that feeling of calm even though the elements were against us.”
During our walk around the Nardah Nudgee Waterhole Reserve Jagera woman Madonna Thomson and Shoshana William yarned with us about the bullrush used for string making, basket weaving and healing.
We heard about tree scars, the coolamon making process and how to identify where witchetty grubs live.
“One of the first things Madonna and Shoshanna pointed out was the scarring on the gum tree. And I was just amazed at the craftspersonship of that coolamon that was created from the scarring. The way that she described the use of trees, the way that they were marked and how the scarring is used to determine the tree’s age, and whose responsibility it might have been to care for that part of country. It reminded me of street signs, and I thought that’s fascinating, how remarkably sustainable.”
Throughout the walk we tasted native foods including native mulberries and asparagus-like bean shoots. We were surprised to learn about the diversity of native food that could be found on Turrbal, Jagera, Gubi Gubi, Yugambeh and Bundjalung lands.
“I keep coming back to how amazing it is that the providence of so many of the foods that we know and enjoy are native to Southeast Queensland and have been looked after by the various groups of Indigenous people in the area.”
We participated in an ochre making initiation and heard about the importance of skin markings, governance and trade language.
“As Madonna was talking, the thing that kept coming back to me was there’s actually no new knowledge. We always think we’ve, I don’t know, invented a system or invented a structure or something, but these things have always been around forever, but in a much more nuanced way and much better tens of thousands of years ago.”
As we headed towards the Bora Ring, a sacred site for men’s initiation, CSIA’s Jamie Brown took the lead with clapping sticks.
“I felt somehow proud when Madonna asked Jamie to walk us safely in a procession. So we, as women, were not allowed to go to this sacred place. Madonna was saying Jamie leading the way is making us safe, but it’s for her, because she knows she shouldn’t be in that place where they did men’s business, or young men’s business.”
After our walk we tasted more bushfoods including Davidson Plum, native herbs, lillpilli, native figs, macadamia nut paste and preserves and we reflected on what we heard and experienced.
“The figs we tried at the end there were beautiful. And I was talking to Madonna about the recipe, and she was telling me about how she does them with star anise and cinnamon and a few other things. And it felt like a food-based metaphor of the blending of the way two cultures can sit together and make happy flavours at the end.”