Sunday, 30 January 2011

Woggan-ma-gule : Gulaga Dreaming (4 of 4)

Thus far, Daramah has unleashed wonders upon the waters, upon the soils and through the air. All big picture stuff. Now he goes in with a finer brush.


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.

16 comments:

brattcat said...

Thank you! The pleasure has been ours.

Tulsa Gentleman said...

"The trees are sung into life...."
In the Silmarillion. J.R.R.Tolkien imagines a entire creation brought about with music.

Luis Gomez said...

These images are just great Julie. You have no idea how much I have enjoyed them.

Mary Ann said...

Thanks for sharing this event with us. Your text and images made me feel like I was there--very well done.

JM said...

This almost antipode here knows so little about Aboriginal culture but now I'm a bit less ignorant thanks to you, Julie. :-) Great captures once again.

Julie said...

Thank you for your kind words.

May I emphasize something? The aboriginal culture on this continent stretches back 40,000 years. The continent is vast. The landscapes diverse. Meaning that the culture, and the Dreaming stories vary, not necessarily from tribe to tribe, but from area to area. Not necessarily in broad scope but in small detail. There are so many stories out there to discover and to understand,. It requires a supple imagination and an open heart. Enjoy!

Kay L. Davies said...

Wonderful series, Julie. 40,000 years is a long time. I'm so glad the Dreaming stories have survived not only the 20th century, but into the 21st.
-- K

Kay, Alberta, Canada
An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

Ali - Scituate Daily Photo said...

Wonderful, wonderful series of images - I have so enjoyed these posts and felt like I was there in the crowd because of your vivid descriptions accompanying these striking photographs!

LĂșcia said...

Great shots, it's so interesting to learn about the aboriginal culture!
Have a good Sunday! ;-)

Ann said...

I definitely want to get to this next year. Looking at the program the Doonoch dancers opened Yabun as well but I got there half an hour too late.

Bob Crowe said...

Saturday night here and finally a little free time.

This is quite astounding, an essay, a National Geographic feature, not a post. Beautiful, beautiful photography and such perfect light.

J Bar said...

Looks like quite a show. You've got me intrigued about tomorrow. :)

Jack said...

That was a wonderful series of photos telling us about this (to us) unusual tradition. Lovely!

Mark said...

This has been a great series. Brilliant photography Julie

Nathalie said...

I'm only discovering your 4-part series about the Woggan-ma-gule now - this is fantastic!

I agree with Bob, this is far more than a series of posts, a National Geographic essay.

Thanks not only for the beautiful photographs but also for taking the time to put it all together for us, including the story.

Jilly said...

This series has been brilliant, Julie. Wondeful shots! I have Bruce Chatwin's The Songlines and love it.