Connecting to Country
This week’s blog focuses on connecting to the land beneath our feet, taking time to listen to stories and remembering the people and animals that have lived here before us. Through these observations I hope we can begin to live in greater harmony with the interconnectedness of all people, places and living things.
I was lucky enough to be able to attend a seminar on Tuesday held by the Sunshine Coast Reconciliation Council Incorporated. The seminar focused on the history of white settlement and dispossession of Aboriginal lands here on the Sunshine Coast. Renowned historians shared their research and local Kabi Kabi (pronounced Gubi Gubi) custodians shared their stories, family memoirs and experiences.
I was glued to my seat as speakers engaged with the audience, sharing a dark and conflicted history and I was brought to tears more than once. There were also beautiful memoirs of positive relations between settlers and Indigenous peoples and conversations were about moving forward, strengthening relationships and acknowledgement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The seminar culminated in a call to embed these values in our schools, communities, meeting places, online and in the media. For more information about upcoming events and initiatives by the SCRCI, visit their facebook page #Sunshine Coast Reconciliation Group Incorporated or the Reconciliation Queensland website https://www.rqi.org.au/
May 27th -June 3rd marks reconciliation week and you can find out about local events in your area by visiting https://www.reconciliation.org.au/national-reconciliation-week/
As I walked away from the meeting I made a promise to myself that I would find out more about where I lived and the story that my local landscape held. On Saturday our little family braved the rain and headed down to Tooway Creek at Moffat Beach, geared up with fishing rods and kayaks. When the rain finally stopped the setting was idyllic and the creek was like glass reflecting the overcast sky. We paddled upstream, against the current and then let the flow of the water carry us back to the waterways’ mouth.
That evening I looked on google to see what I could find out about the history of Tooway Creek. Firstly the creek was named Tui Wai by the Gubi Gubi people and means home of the red-backed sea eagle, more commonly known now as the Brahminy kite. The banks of Tui Wai creek used to be covered in huge blue gum trees and this is where the eagle would make her nest between April and October. Indigenous people used the creek to fish, collect shellfish and as a meeting place. Many questions arose in my mind:
What evidence was there today of this harmonious relationship with the land? How was Aboriginality represented in my community? What stories and songs did Aboriginal people share in their yarning circles as they sat beside the creek in time long passed? Does the red-backed sea eagle still nest here? How can we as a community, interweave traditional knowledge with new technologies and lifestyles to protect these rich ecosystems and landscapes?
Currently I am unable to answer these questions, however it rekindled a fire in me to search for deeper understanding and connection. I hope to find more insights into our local places and I hope that this blog inspires you to do the same. To find out more about Sunshine Coast history, you can visit https://heritage.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au
I acknowledge the traditional owners of this land, past, present and emerging. May we work together to spread the message of reconciliation. Next week our blog will be about the celebration of Harmony Week. See the website https://harmony.gov.au/events/ to find an event near you.