Recreating the Country blog
Guest blogger and poet for September is Gib Wettenhall.
Gib is a an award winning author, journalist, editor, publisher and advocate for preserving indigenous cultural heritage. His view is that;
"the 60,000 year-old Indigenous heritage we have inherited makes Australian landscapes as much cultural as natural".
He is the author of The People of Budj Bim written in collaboration with the Gunditjmara people of south-west Victoria, which in 2010 was Overall Winner of the Victorian Community History Awards.
Also, the author of The People of Gariwerd, the Grampians’ Aboriginal history, which has gone through three print runs.
He is currently writing and producing the 3rd in a series of booklets for the Yirralka Rangers, titled
Keeping Country, on the bi-cultural approach adopted by this Indigenous land management group in north-east Arnhem Land.
As a publisher, he has edited many books, including Stephen Murphy’s Recreating the Country and Tanya Loo’s nature journal set in the Wombat Forest, Daylesford Nature Diary, which reintroduces a six season Indigenous calendar for the foothill forests.
In 2006, he wove the Indigenous heritage of the Grampians Ranges into the essays published in a high quality landscape format book with photographs by Alison Pouliot,
Gariwerd: Reflecting on the Grampians.
Gib can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org
We switch panels to store, as we unfurl solar sails
And lay the songline down.
We sing with joy when we reach the reef and the fish shoal is found.
We spear the fish, sail the songline back
To the beach where a hot fire glows
We sing to the fish of how our lives are twined as we pass damper to and fro.
The cats are gone, cane toads no more
The valley’s soil is soft
The shepherds herd their mobs of roos through glades of thigh high grass
And everywhere the wetlands spread and wild birds wheel aloft.
We sing on the zeppelin as it orients for home
Following power plant ruins below
It’s ten years now since the last coal was dug…
It’s back to the future we go.
Gib Wettenhall 2014
Reimagining and reinventing Australian culture
Australia’s landscapes are as much cultural as natural. People were everywhere, affecting everything, across the length and breadth of the continent over an unimaginable timescale, recently confirmed at an archaeological dig on our northern frontline at some 60,000 years ago. That’s the conclusion of historian Billy Griffiths in his acclaimed new book on the history of Australian archaeology, Deep Time Dreaming.
This primal Indigenous spiritual power is still evident in the country’s remote places. I have recently rock hopped for two weeks along the Roe River and scaled the blood-red gorges of the Prince Regent National Park on the western edge of the Kimberley. At every one of the waterfalls punctuating our progress, rock art shelters crowded with ancestral beings and creation stories overlooked the dark, deep green of secret/sacred pools. On gorge tops, artificially-placed standing stones act as markers, sometimes leading to ceremonial grounds, where, if you are willing to pay attention, the ancient power of the land and its people remains palpable.
Stephen Murphy is an author, an ecologist and a nurseryman. He has been a designer of natural landscapes for over 30 years. He loves the bush, supports Landcare and is a volunteer helping to conserve local reserves.