Published by: Digital Schools
The Witchetty Grub People – Part 1
When I first arrived at my new home here on the bend of the brown river, I wasn’t exactly in good shape. You could say, my spirit had gone walkabout. I was sick, mentally and spiritually. I had no connection to anything, and it had been that way for a very long time.
Welcome to Country
For the next few weeks, take a walk with me through the place of the Wurundjeri Woiwurrung. I will help you see what I see as I walk the banks of the ‘River of Mists’. It is where I have begun to learn what it means to have a place ‘on country’ here in Melbourne and how it finally feels to be connected to where I live – from the ground up. This place is where I have started to heal my spirit by connecting to land, ancestry and nature.
From bush medicine and edible weeds, the Manna Gum and Birruang, I will show you what I know so far to be – Wurundjeri.
Welcome to Country!
The Manna Gum
It was the blue, grey-green of the eucalypt, the Manna Gum trees that soaked up my attention the first time I stood there on that river. It was February of 2021, and it was only two weeks into my new life here.
Speckled with tiny creamy bush blossoms, their salty bark and perfect colour palette drowned out the noise of the industrial world in the background; as I zoomed into the trees like a camera does , I was enamoured.
I inspected the textures, the smell, the details and the life attached to those trees nearly every day for two months. My hyper focus on the landscape, the colour of the gum leaves and the smell of the trees and the warm earth began to dominate my subconscious.
I would come home in the dark from my new place, write and paint, and closely inspect the pictures and film I collected from the small world that was now my own.
At night, alone in my apartment, when the world was silent, my mind would go quiet with it, and I would dream of the gum trees. I would wander to the forest over the road from me, following the ridge along Birruang like I was hypnotised. All I would see were the Manna Gum trees and heard the word ‘Wurundjeri’.
It was like this weeks on, I would dream the Manna Gums and hear Wurundjeri, and I wanted to know why?
We are the Land
As it seems, Wurundjeri are Manna Gums, the people of Wurundjeri land take their name from them.
The Manna Gum, or’ Eucalyptus Viminalis’ is a ceremonial symbol of the Wurundjeri Woiwurrung ‘Welcome to Country’. The Manna Gum is sacred to the people of this land, it represents their connection to their country and to the River of Mists.
Perhaps my dreaming was the beginning of my welcome to country, as there was no Wurundjeri Human available, it seems as though the trees had done it instead. From understanding one word, Wurundjeri I became much more connected to this place. From then on, the small patch over there which hugs the curves of Birruang (the brown river), became my place. And I love that land now as home.
To the Wurundjeri Woiwurrung thank you for keeping culture alive. With the deepest respect, I hope this body of work will help to educate the people of the world, about the wealth and beauty of this land and its traditional owners.