This book was gifted to me by one of my students. Like me she has a love of Wirradjirri Country (which includes Cowra, NSW where our weekend retreat/ land stewardship project is), a connection to its rivers of gold, the soil of our ancestors and the spirit animals of our dreams.
It’s odd but I feel more connected to the earth here than I ever did back home and believe me I’ve been ‘home’ for a very long time. My ancestral line on my father’s side came to England from Germany long before events of 1066 – the Norman conquest which resulted in an influx of new people into Little Britain (oh how I love that show). We settled in the midlands and were still there when I popped out over a thousand years later – we didn’t move much did we? My dad’s side were farmers, people of the land – many people were – and as such it isn’t too much of a stretch to imagine that we ARE as English as the soil its self. We were born in that little farming community, grew their, died and were buried there. Yet I always had a hankering after something new.
I don’t know when I first thought of travelling the world but I do remember being at primary school and arranging a voyage around the world with three or four of my friends. We were to leave when we were 18 and would travel by boat to all four corners of the globe (well, you know what I mean). I was set on Africa because it seemed exotic and thrilling but really anywhere would do – we just wanted to forge our own path, explore, discover!
That didn’t happen but other adventures did and in the year that I turned thirty I emigrated to Australia with my family.
Australia is a land of two stories – one that starts with Captain Cook and one that is timeless. It’s the latter that resonates with me and it was the land that I pledged by allegiance to when I finally took my citizenship pledge in October last year.
Reading Under the Quandong Tree by Minmia (and I know, the tree above is a paperbark) has brought me one step closer to understanding why I am here, why I love this land and why, in spite of being a whiter than white English girl that I feel my bones need to be here. It was interesting reading about Minmia’s vision quest as I too feel like I’m on one of sorts. Australia wasn’t my ‘first choice’ country, indeed I didn’t care for her much the first or second time I visited but life being what it is I ended up here anyway. Maybe that’s how all true vision quests play out – it chooses you, you don’t choose it.
What I do know is that I love this country , this timeless country and it is time that we all sat down to listen to it as everything we need is here.