This is the last in a series of blogs from students and teachers reporting on their recent Bawaka travels. The Bawaka team for 2017 included Shenay Bremner, Keelan Birch, Rachael Courtenay, Bethany Fryar, Victoria Ireland, Maartje Roelofsen, Sandie Suchet-Pearson, Matthew Salamone and Jessie Wiseman.
My time at Bawaka can be explained in so many ways, I could talk about the language I learnt, well attempted to learn, I could talk about their traditions and culture, but what runs deeper to me, on a personal level, a spiritual level, is an experience I had on country. Whilst having this experience was hard to make sense of at the time I am glad I had it. I have now left Bawaka, but after this I feel a deeper connection to Country and the Yolngu people than I ever thought I could have.
When preparing for my time in Bawaka, I knew it would be special. However, I did not expect to connect with the land, the language, the culture, and the people as much as I did. I have walked away from Bawaka with a deeper appreciation for how we are connected to the earth, to the animals, the trees, other humans, and, in some indescribable way, the spiritual world. I am glad to have experienced this and will forever cherish such a connection and thank the ancestors for allowing us to immerse ourselves fully in their culture and thank them for protecting us whilst we were there.
Thank you so much to Bawaka, Lirrwi and of course Djawundil, Rrawun, Megan, Timmy, Rita, Shandi, Banbapuy, Laklak and Ritjilili, the ancestors, Bayini, Nike, the dolphins and everyone who looked after us so well. These beautiful words from Victoria are the perfect way to evoke Bawaka for you and to end our series of blogs:
The day emerges slowly Yirritja awakening makes room for Gukguk who farewells the moon and sings away the stars Calling gathering connecting all Family entwine Nhamirri nhe .... as Gukguk sings the colours of the day feeling Heart singing Land talking Eyes hearing Country being
This is the third in a series of blogs from students and teachers reporting on their recent Bawaka travels. The Bawaka team for 2017 included Shenay Bremner, Keelan Birch, Rachael Courtenay, Bethany Fryar, Victoria Ireland, Maartje Roelofsen, Sandie Suchet-Pearson, Matthew Salamone and Jessie Wiseman.
So I found Bawaka to be one of the most incredible places I have ever visited, not only because of the natural beauty of the environment but I found being taught the traditional landowners connection to place, gave me a greater appreciation for the land and the experience. To be invited into their family by being given skin names made the experience personal and welcoming. I can’t wait to go back!!
Through my pre-readings and the stories passed on to me by past visitors, I had come to understand that Bawaka was a special place. A place for learning and for co-becoming Country. Our trip to Bawaka was indeed an incredible learning experience. We have learned about the Yolngu ways of life and the idea of Country through the people present there, but also through the animals, the plants, the tides, the sun and the spirits. Bawaka generously showed me that some knowledge may come exclusively in visceral and embodied ways – my first encounter with a fire ant was an example of that; spirits that dwell at Bawaka was another. I am very thankful for having been guided by Rrawun, Djawundil, Timmy, Shandi, Banbapuy, Laklak, Ritjilili and other Yolngu people in embracing such knowledge and understanding it as one of the many ways in which we connect to each other and to Country. And, as an early career scholar who has moved from Europe just recently, I learned so much from my Australian students and colleague Sandie. Being with them for a week has added much to my understanding of and enthusiasm for the context I am teaching in. An amazing Week!
This is the second in a series of blogs from students and teachers reporting on their recent Bawaka travels. The Bawaka team for 2017 included Shenay Bremner, Keelan Birch, Rachael Courtenay, Bethany Fryar, Victoria Ireland, Maartje Roelofsen, Sandie Suchet-Pearson, Matthew Salamone and Jessie Wiseman.
The Bawaka trip was the most amazing experience. We met kind and loving people who welcomed us into their family and shared their culture with us. We were given skin names and totems which gave us a connection to the family and their land. Sitting with the Indigenous women and having them share special stories that were only for women made us feel even more connected. It really was a trip of a lifetime.
Bawaka was a truly incredible experience that undoubtedly challenged my perception of remote Indigenous communities, as I was given the opportunity to immerse myself into a such beautiful and multifaceted culture. Overall, I learnt so much about the complex and unique nature of the Yolngu culture, people and the land itself. I hope to return in the future and would highly recommend this cultural experience for any other student given the opportunity.
This is the first in a series of blogs from students and teachers reporting on their Bawaka travels. The Bawaka team for 2017 included Shenay Bremner, Keelan Birch, Rachael Courtenay, Bethany Fryar, Victoria Ireland, Maartje Roelofsen, Sandie Suchet-Pearson, Matthew Salamone and Jessie Wiseman.
It’s the second time we’ve taken a group of third year students to Bawaka in North East Arnhem Land, Northern Territory and we had such an amazing time. 9 students doing the Human Geography capstone unit GEOP380: Human Geography in Action went with 2 staff members and spent 8 nights in Arnhem Land, including 6 nights at Bawaka Homeland and 2 nights in the bauxite mining town of Nhulunbuy.
The undergraduate students apply to go on the field trip which has been set up as part of a long-term research relationships between human geography academics and Yolngu women from Bawaka. As part of their 6 credit point unit students learn about doing ethical and reciprocal research and focus on their own research topics around issues of Indigenous self-determination, cultural tourism and caring for Country.
Here we’d like to share some of the ways in which being on, with and as Bawaka Country affected us:
Travelling to Bawaka in remote North-East Arnhem Land left an impression on me that I’ll cherish forever. Learning Yolngu language, being accepted into the family kinship and telling amazing stories around a bonfire are just some of the experiences that have influenced my worldview and how I live my day-to-day life. This is such a valuable fieldtrip that I would recommend any uni student to undertake.
We are pleased to invite you to a symposium on ‘Geographies of Disruption’ at Macquarie University, funded by the Geographical Society of NSW. It will be held on the 19-20 April 2018.
Through Geographical Society of NSW funding, we are excited to be able to offer small grants to Early Career Researchers and Higher Degree Research students to participate in the symposium.
If you are interested in participating, please email email@example.com before 18th December 2017.
Looking forward to discussing all things disruption next year.
Margaret Raven and Jess McLean
On 27th September 2017, Prof Richie Howitt gave the Graduation Address for the Faculty of Science & Engineering (Biology, Engineering, EPS and Environmental Sciences) at Macquarie University.
We thought people might like to read the text of that speech. Prof Howitt began by discussing the University’s responsibilities in accepting the Welcome to Country, and linked that to the power of inclusive science education (that encompasses the social sciences and humanities):
‘Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, Colleagues from the University, distinguished guests, graduates, families and friends. Thank you for the opportunity to address you on this happy occasion, when we affirm the achievements of graduates from across the Faculty of Science and Engineering.
Let me commence by acknowledging the generous Welcome to the traditional domain of the Wattamattageal clan, the Wullamai black snapper fish people, of the Darug nation. Not only do I appreciate the warm welcome offered to us all today, but I also reflect on the many other occasions that the traditional custodians of this land have welcomed the University and our staff, students and visitors to their Country.
In making such acknowledgement, I recognize that the Welcome to Country is not an empty ritual or tokenistic space for an Indigenous Australian to speak politely and then exit from the University’s core business. The Welcome to Country, like the graduation ceremony itself, is an institution, a custom and ritual that long pre-dates the establishment of this University.
As a guest in Darug territory, the Welcome to Country places me – us– in an obligation to behave well; to respect; to learn. As a learning community, the Welcome to Country also invites us to reflect collectively on the importance of the University’s ongoing relationship with the Darug nation, whose cultures and customs have nurtured, and continue to nurture, this place and its people for tens of thousands of years. It obliges us to ensure that, in paying our respects to their Elders past, present and future, we offer more than tokenistic or patronizing courtesy.’