Thursday, February 16, 2017

Story dreaming

We are on holiday.

A road trip of sorts, travelling down part of the east coast of Australia, to see and experience our country.

We visited Coffs Harbour, a coastal city, and then drove up the winding mountain roads to the lookouts at the top of the mountains behind the city.  

The views were awesome,

the facilities provided by local government inviting and well-built. 

To get to the second lookout, we walked along a track, about 400 metres, 

surrounded by towering gum trees, 

tantalising glimpses of the sea and coastal plain, 

and occasionally by reminders of the Story of Gumgali.

The Gumbaynggirr people are the garlugun-gi girrwaa, or “first mob” of the Coffs Harbour area, traditional owners of the land, and last year they granted permission to tell the story of Gumgali the black goanna.

The Story of Gumgali

Jalumbaw yarrang Gumgaliyu nyaawang niigarrin biguurr-garri waruungga juluumba.
Long ago that Gumgali saw men with spears high in the mountains.
“Galang, Yaam ngaya wambi. Ngaya yaarri yarraang giili,” yirraang Gumgaliyu.
“Oh gosh, I’m scared. I’m outta here now,” said Gumgali.
“Ngaaja yaanggu jaliija wajaada gaagalgu waalgaw yarrang muniim barrway manggarla.”
“I’ll go underground to the ocean and push that big rock ahead of me.”
Yaarrigay yarrang Gumgali burraabading gaagala. Wanaawang niigarrin wajaada.
And then Gumgali arrived at the ocean, leaving the men behind on the land.

The aboriginal people all across Australia have stories of their country. 

 Many of the characters in the stories are based on the animals that live there. 

The stories have been passed down from generation to generation,

as have been the stories and myths of our culture.

They give meaning and connection to the country,

and confirm the role of humans, and the view that humans have of themselves - give that meaning, too.

If you read the story again, think a bit about what it says about the humans who lived there and 

a bit about what it says about humans and animals,

and a bit about the goanna head way out into the sea.

The stories that the aborigines tell are called The Dreaming or The Dreamtime.

And as I walked along the track back to out next adventure, I couldn't help thinking that that is just where the magic of story lies, in the dream-state it can create for us as we listen and imagine and travel along with the storyteller, absorbing the culture, the lesson and taking that experience and that lesson into our personal consciousness.

Thank you Coffs Harbour, the Gumbanggyir, and Gumgali.

That thing called The Dreaming that I learned about at school doesn't seem such a "foreign" concept after all.

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