I was having a yarn at work with Ben, a proud Gunaikurnai man (and ripper drummer) about the fires. His mob, in what we call Gippsland, are right in the path of the fires, and there’s been huge stress on them. I learned a lot, as I always do from talking with our first nations peoples. I was really hesitant to write about this, as I didn’t want to appropriate the voice (yet again) of the Aboriginal peoples. But equally, this was a voice that wasn’t really being heard among the noise. Ben encouraged me to write, and be aware of culture.
There’s been the losses that the whole community have experienced, but then there is something bigger at play here. That understanding of the animals and bush are their dreaming, ancestors, totems, songlines and spirits.
The sacred sites that are now scarred, the remains of ancestors that are now lost, and the loss of totems, for Gunaikurnai, the Pelican, the Musk Duck. Further east, mallacoota lies in Bidawul country.
He told me about the importance of understanding Aboriginal peoples connection to country, mother nature, animals, songlines, dreaming and blood runs all through the country. “We are born from mother earth and when we die we go back to her. Our number one reason for being on earth as Aboriginal people is to care for her”.
We think of fire being only impacting above ground, but he told me about the below ground impacts, and what happens to ancestral remains, artefacts or anything else of cultural significance. All lost and never found. “The damage can be catastrophic to our country, culture and mother”.
Its sobering, and we must ensure this voice is heard among others as well. This piece in the Conversation gives heart, seeing the strength in Aboriginal communities, because they are survivors, they live and managed 100,000 years of cyclone, fire, flood, earthquake, volcano, dispossession and disease. There is much that we can learn.
Daniel, covering one of my favourites of all time