The Denning Death Adder travels up from the south. He meets the Bulada Rainbow Serpent. They travel together, weaving underground, creating the tablelands and return to the surface, creating water-holes.
Trees begin to rise up from the surface, and their branches grow. The trees are sung into life and tribes are formed: the Yuin, the Gurik, Boorooberongal, Warmuli, Garnua, Birapi and, Dhungutti. The people break away from the trees and form the tribes of the Sydney basin and the South Coast.
Look at the intensity, at the regal carriage of the back and of the head. Look at the pride of race, of tribe, of those ready to take their place as elders.
The tribes perform their Totem dances, encouraging the young to join in to learn the ways of the tribe, and to take their own place in that vast line that stretches from the past into the future. We see bat, possum, emu, whale, stingray and shark. We witness man and nature coming together to live upon the soil.
I watch closely and catch, the stutters of the young dancer, the shy grin when a step goes astray, the slavish following, and proud ownership. The mesmerising clack-clack of the sticks, curls with the gutteral utterances of the songmen and rise into the early morning fog upon the drone of the didge.
Uncle Max brings closure, thanks Aunty Marie for her presence, and the dancers dissolve into giggles of achievement and relief. In my turn, stunned, I dissolve into the gardens, meandering back along the ridgeline to my terrace upon the hill, as the heat and humidity wrap around the city. I know I have seen THE best, the most meaningful, that Australia Day can offer.
For those who have asked: yes, there was a written programme. And yes, Uncle Max talked his way through The Dreaming. This is what he has been doing for over 30 years: sharing his cultural knowledge and taking other Australians onto country explaining Aboriginal ways and their intricate understandings of the land. Watch back episodes of 'Message Stick' for more. Thank you for sharing this with me over the last few days.