Over the weekend I participated in a 3-day walk through Wiradjuri country, near Narrandera – “Buckingbong to Birrego: a walk of healing and hope.”
It was organised collaboratively by George Main, curator at National Museum of Australia, the Strong family private landholders, and The Cad Factory regional arts organisation.
A diverse group of us walked, camping along the way, taking in conversations and talks with local farmers, indigenous elders and artists, specially commissioned site-specific artworks, and pre-created land art. As you can imagine, issues discussed reached far and wide and it was fascinating.
You can find more info on the Cad Factory website.
I’m not the biggest fan of verbal expression (doing it myself), but in an attempt to provide some bits of feedback and material for the Cad Factory to collate, I’ve written down a few initial thoughts below in response to the walk:
Science is myth-making, religion is myth-making, art is myth-making.
By enacting this gesture – walking across the land – we create new myths… In each step something new unfolds and becomes part of the larger picture.
As I walked, I came across more and more people with different perspectives, the sun winding its arc across the sky, spinning my shadow slowly around me.
I came across plants of all sorts – “natives”, “weeds”, huge old trees, groundcovers hard and crunchy, scorched, like ice, grasses, scratchy, attaching their seed heads to our shoes, or as part of a soft undulating field. Who knows how all these plants arrived, but here they are all equals.
The earth changed colour and texture, the breeze came and went, conversations came and went. Our bunch was like an elastic band, stretching this way and that.
Sometimes others would walk right behind me and their footsteps became inaudible – all I could hear were my own.
Always the sound of footsteps.
I arrived at a new place – I’d never been to this land before – and there was an awful violent history that was being spoken about. It made me think of my own cultural heritage. -The violence that had been inflicted upon my own family members. There too, the land had been a witness to those events, and became part of those events.
A myth forms reality, it keeps folding upon itself to create structure.
Lorraine told us how uncomfortable, how awkward, she felt, being part of this project, this walk of “healing and hope”.
I listened to the clarity of private landholder Graham speaking about his work with the land, and I felt suddenly – a new understanding, the sense of a new beat in my core – what it meant to be a custodian of the land, the responsibility that came with that. Graham made his connection to that palpable.
The animals too. I heard the sheep being spoken of as “maggot-carrying scum”. All are equal here now.
There is something about walking – like swinging a set of scales, like a heart pumping blood round its looped circuits, like the wind eroding layers off the earth – reflexive, cycling, unpredictable, self-perpetuating, with its own laws of balance, ever-changing.
Nothing to do but walk.
Just now I typed “Poison Creek” into Google to find the exact name used for a place we visited on Saturday. So many “Poison Creeks” from all around Australia came up on the screen that it took me some time to find the one I was looking for.