This large tussock-like plant, which grows in clusters along streams and in areas where there is plenty of moisture, is one of eastern Australia’s most versatile native grasses.Spiny-headed mat-rush Lomandra longifolia, whose botanical name literally refers to ‘long foliage’, has many uses. Aboriginal use of native plants is often threefold. It may be valuable in the manufacturing of tools, weapons and utensils. It may also provide an ingredient that has medicinal value or be a valuable and versatile source of sustenance.
As well as producing a sweet edible stem, Australia’s native cherry has important ceremonial and protective properties.The native cherry (Exocarpus cupressiformis), also known as cherry ballart, cypress cherry or wild cherry belongs to the sandalwood family and is endemic to Australia. A partial parasite, the tree lives in harmony with the host tree, particularly eucalyptus, without causing it any harm. The plants work together to support each other and in Aboriginal teachings, it is used as an example of how working together is of benefit to all.
Connecting to country is about being still, asking permission and using your senses in order to reveal what she is really saying.Spiritual connection to country is important for me; I will always make my presence known at a location and mentally or verbally ask permission from the guardians and Elders past if it is okay I be there. A gentle breeze, a rustle of leaves or a birdcall at that precise moment is validation. Sit still, observe and tune in. How do you feel? Safe, comfortable, relaxed? Do you feel welcome?
I want to talk about special quality of my people, one I believe to be the most important, and our most unique gift. In our language, this special quality is called dadirri. It is inner, deep listening and quiet, still awareness.Ngangikurungkurr means deep water sounds. Ngangikurungkurr is the name of my tribe. The word can be broken up into three parts: Ngangi means word or sound, kuri means water, and kurr means deep. This is about tapping into that deep spring that’s within us.Many Australians understand that Aboriginal people have a special respect for nature. The identity we have with the land is sacred and unique. Many people are starting to understand this more. There are many Australians who appreciate that Aboriginal people have a very strong sense of community. All persons matter.
The upsurge in the human desire to reconnect with nature and our food is heartening. After the devastating bushfires experienced by so many, is it possible for humans to also reconnect with fire?After a bushfire season like we experienced in 2019–20, with the devastating loss of lives, farm animals, bush and wildlife, the fear of fire has left lasting scars. However if we can have a better understanding of fire, then maybe we can see through its terrifying and destructive nature and identify it as a useful tool that can bring healing.
This is the beginning of a series created with Indigenous elder and Budawang man Noel Butler from Yuin country, who we’ve asked to share his knowledge and deep connection to country. He wants to help Australians develop a connection with their place as well as an understanding of where they live, the plants and animals which exist in their environment and, in turn, develop a deep respect and concern for the environment. Because once we truly connect and understand our environment, we can’t help but want to protect it.To learn about country and culture you need to live it, rather than read or talk about it. You need to develop a connection with your country, your patch, the part of the world you belong to. Whether it’s your garden, nature reserve, national park, beach; a place you feel a connection to and care about.
‘I will never forget the day that Poppy lit the first fire on country in front of me… “I’m gonna light the grass now, like the old people used to do,” Poppy said loudly and proudly.He walked over to the stringybark country and ripped off a long piece of bark from the closest tree... He teased one end of the long piece of bark, lit it up and then walked through the boxwood patch in a repetitive, figure eight type movement... I watched him dancing through the flames like some kind of fire spirit… Soon there was nothing but fire in front of me, but it was only seconds before it started to calm down. Then he reappeared in the middle of the fire, walking over the flames with his bare feet, giving me the biggest smile.’Over decades we have heard about the many massive wildfires in southern parts of Australia. I remember a few occasions of sitting with Elders, watching bushfire reports on the news. The old people would watch TV, feeling really sorry for the people and the country.