Aboriginal Sacred Site

Bunna Lawrie - Aboriginal WhaleDreamer

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA For many years it has been my wish to see a whale up close and, if possible, to look into the eye of the whale. On Friday night Tony and I had the honour to sit with Aboriginal elder, Bunna Lawrie, a man who has not only looked into the eye of the whale many times but has had such a deep relationship to the whale that to speak of this creature is like speaking of his family. Because that is what the great white whale is to Bunna, it is his ancestor.

"It’s my duty also my people’s duty to carry out that story and that songline of Jiddara the great white whale which goes for something like 350kms across from the Bight, from one end to the other. The journey is the creation that created man and sea for our people. Our Mirning people and our stories evolved from the creation of this great white whale, which came from the great Milky Way in the stars above them, and the seven sisters. Our responsibility is to share that story and to look after the country.” Bunna Lawrie

Bunna Lawrie is a traditional lawman and medicine man and direct descendant of the Mirning aboriginal Whaledreaming tribe originally from Miranagu, located at the Great Australian Bight in South Australia. I first came to know about Bunna years ago through his music with the band Coloured Stone in the eighties. They had a hit with the song Black Boy in 1984 and I remember watching the video with fascination because unfortunately we had never seen many Aborginal bands on television. The chorus of Black Boy included the line 'Black boy, black boy, the colour of your skin is your pride and joy' the whole song was a really revolutionary statement at that time.


Bunna Lawrie welcoming Nahko at the Bentley Blockade - photo: The Tree Fairy

And so on Friday night I got to hear Bunna sing live in the home of our friend Judy O'Donnell of Traveller's Amulet and this time Bunna sang in his own language about his people, his land and in particular, the whaledreaming creation stories. These stories are ancient and we are all so lucky that leaders and elders such as Bunna are sharing them, opening these mysteries to people outside of his tribe. These stories make up the songlines that are vital to his people and to the preservation of the whaledreaming lands. The Mirning people are unfortunately still fighting for native title to the coastline that is their ancestral homeland. In 2008 an amazing documentary was made called Whaledreamers - I encourage you all to seek it out. It focusses on Bunna's tribe and also whaledreamers from indigenous tribes from all over the world gathering to honour and sing in the whales at the site where Bunna's ancestors had held this ceremony for thousands of years.



Bunna and his people are still fighting to regain full access to these sacred sites and are in the process of readying a Sea Claim that he hopes in the future will allow the ancestral tribe of those lands to gather and hold ceremony and to also open a centre that will help to educate visitors. He spoke of holding journeys where he would lead groups to walk the sacred songlines of the Whaledreamers over a 10 day period, living off the land and walking the creation stories. That would be such an amazing and incredible gift - walking in that ancient, magic story.

Bunna carries the ancestral medicine of storyteller and he shared the ancient creation story of Jiddara, the great white whale and the Seven Sisters. I was taken back to writing this post about meeting these ancient star beings last year. I felt excited. The words that Bunna was sharing seemed to be tapping into something I've been wanting to write about but had been unable to express. In particular there was one word that really stood out to me: 'mirinjirra'. This is the Mirning word for the sound of creation. When the  the land and sea and creatures were being birthed and made and sung into the world. I have found that almost every culture has their own word for this sacred act. In gaelic it is called 'oran mor' - the great song. I have been wanting to talk with artists about how we create a sacred vessel, how we enchant what we create with intention and love. When I spoke to Bunna about this after his storytelling he agreed to sit down and talk with me more about it and I am over the moon about this new weaving.

We are so lucky in Australia to be living in a land with the most ancient and wise culture and we are being given the greatest gift when elders such as Bunna offer to share their dreaming with us. If you ever get a chance to hear Bunna Lawrie speak or sing, please go along, it's time for us to listen and learn. These stories have never been shared like this before and they are being shared now that so that we can build community and come together to honour and protect mother earth and her creatures. Thank you so much Bunna Lawrie for opening your heart and your sacred creation stories to us and thank you Judy for weaving this gathering in your home.

I still hope, one day, that I will receive the gift of being able to look into the eye of that incredible being, the whale. To look into the heart of us all. It is said that to do this, you are forever changed. Photographer, Bryant Austin has based his work on this phenomenon - here is a link to Eye of the Whale. Perhaps in this magic moment of meeting eye to eye we are at once awakened and also invited into the deepest dreaming of all - the dreaming of creation.


a sacred Aboriginal Dreaming Track needs our protection

Gabriella Possum Nungurrayi: Milky Way (Seven Sisters) Dreaming

Goolabeen - Aboriginal Medicine and Law Woman

Tomorrow evening at 6.30pm I will be singing and drumming in the forest, singing up the Land with my sisters and brothers in states all over Australia as we bring consciousness and intention to protect a sacred Aboriginal Women's Fertility Dreaming Track and Songline that is under great threat in NSW. The power of the Full Moon combined with our focus, love and intention is powerful. Please join us in unity wherever you are. And if you can spare a minute please take the time to sign this petition and share it with your friends.
I welcome you to walk with us Peaceful Warriors, Oceans of love, Julia 

Petition to save this sacred Aboriginal Dreaming Track Petition.

Here is a letter by Aboriginal Medicine Woman, Aunty Beve to help you understand why this land and songline are so important. 

The Destruction of the Aboriginal Women's Fertility Site by Rocla Sandmining Company
by Aunty Beve Spiers

My Tribal name is Goolabeen. I am a fully Initiated Law and Medicine Woman of the Alleyerwere Tribe of Utopia from the Central Desert.
But I am better and more widely known as Auntie Beve, particularly in the Jails of NSW, where I have just retired after 29 years working with Aboriginal prisoners – being there for them 24/7 as an Elder, an Aboriginal Art and Culture teacher, suicide Counsellor and Mental health Worker.
As I was born here in Woy Woy 78 years ago, I speak as an Elder of the Darkinoong Tribe from the Central Coast of N.S.W. And today, I speak on behalf of all Central Coast Aboriginal women with the support of the Aboriginal men and of many non-Aboriginal people who know of the importance of preserving the Sacred Aboriginal Dreaming Track.
A New Zealand company ‘Rocla Sandmining’ is planning to build a mine on an Aboriginal Women’s Fertility Rites Songline and Teaching Place. This Songline is part of the Sacred Dreaming Track, and its destruction would destroy with it tens of thousands of years of Aboriginal heritage. Her Majesty’s NSW Government has approved the company to go ahead with their stage 4 extension, which comprises a massive 30 metre deep hole gouged out of the ground that will take our Sacred Sites out completely.
My mission is to make all Australians aware of how significant this loss would be – to help them fully understand the Cultural importance of this site, and why it must not be destroyed by Rocla Sandmining Company or Her Majesty’s Government of N.S.W.
I, as an Initiated woman, wish to explain the importance of this site so that all Australians can understand how important it is for this site to be preserved and not destroyed – as Rocla Sand Mining intends to do.
I first ask for your respect and acknowledgement of the existence and importance of our Black History in white Australia.
Secondly, I would like it acknowledged that Black history and culture is recorded and taught in ways that are different from the White Fellas ways, but are no less important to its people.
White Australia has The Mitchell Library, given funded and maintained by the government, to house all your important papers, records, books, events, stories and artefacts. At the Mitchell Library, all your White History is kept safe from vandalism, kept safe for posterity.
We, the original custodians of this land, had no paper, pens or writing equipment like yours to record our history on. Instead, back then, we used our recall, our memory to re-tell our stories and the law, and to re-sing our songs of what came before us, what needed to be passed down, carried on, down through time for posterity – just like the white man’s way.
Our people also had the dedication and patience to carve those stories and laws into hard rock platforms, to build entire sites that record our history, our culture and our stories – where we hoped they would be preserved for posterity. Every symbol or line we carved may have taken months to complete, but how else were we to permanently record – for our children, and their children – the stories, the law and the history of the original custodians of the land? And this area is full of such sites.
Famous French Archeologist Jean Clottes viewed some of these rock platforms when visiting the area, and said “This area of the Central Coast has the greatest diversity of Rock Art in the world that I have ever seen”
This diversity is part of what Rocla Sand mines want to destroy – part of our Dreaming track, an important Song-line – the Women's Fertility Rites Teaching Place. This Dreaming Track goes right around Australia through every tribal country, and is a common space which all can use to walk, hunt and gather, visit relatives, attend important meetings and participate in special Sacred Ceremonies. It has very great significance in telling our History, how we lived here as Hunters and Gatherers, as custodians of the land, how we evolved, and what roles we played in life.
The Dreaming Track must never be broken. Its ancient history cannot be lost. It is our Mitchell Library. And like yours, it must be saved for posterity. Lose it and it is gone forever. And that would be a shameful blight on the history of this land.
Stop, Look and Listen well…
The Women’s Fertility Rites Songline and Teaching Place is complex and includes many ceremonial aspects that Her Majesty’s NSW Government and Rocla Mining Company have failed to acknowledge.
Aboriginal history is drawn on the rock platforms, painted in the caves and told by the stone arrangements we left in this area – and all over Australia – to tell our stories. We also told and sung our stories orally. Called Song-lines, these were learnt by the boys and the girls as they grew up and were old enough to go through ceremony. Each Song-line is part of the Dreaming Track, the sacred rites of passage for Aboriginal people. That is why the whole of the story, the whole of the Song-line, and the whole of the Dreaming Track, must be preserved and re-told.
As the Elders and Women of High Degree, we taught every young girl Initiate our Sacred Oral History, word for word, brush stroke by brush stroke, just as we had been taught, so that they in turn could also pass it down to their children as it had been passed down to them by. This was important Ceremonial practice, our way of passing our History down through the ages. This was part of our Great Survival Pattern.
The special Song-line of the Women's Fertility Rites part of the Dreaming Track was very important to the young female initiates as they 'passed through' from girlhood to womanhood. This was their Learning Place, the place they were sung the story of the Women's Fertility Rites and painted up (by way of explanation) to be put through their first initiation to become a Woman – following in the tradition of their Grandmothers, and their Grandmothers before them. The Women’s Fertility Rites is a big step for a 12 year old girl. This was how we taught the women to survive through birth out in the bush, with nothing but nature and our knowledge. We didn’t have any of your hospitals and clinics and Women's Centres, just nature, the ancient knowledge of our ancestors and our instinct for survival.
The Sacred linear stone arrangement that points the way to the learning place must also be acknowledged by the Initiate. It shows her Respect to the Woman of High Degree, the Keeper of the story of the Women's Fertility Rites.
Next stop in the Songline was at the junction of the 3 Creeks. (Marked A, B and C on the map of the site). This was where the women sat and ground and sharpened their tools on the rock beside the creeks. Here, they sung the story of the Women's Fertility Rites Songline, while the painters of the story painted up the Initiate to show the story being told.
When the painting of the initiate was finished, she was then taken by the older women to the special rock engraving of ‘The Woman of High Degree’. She stands with her arms high and is cut with special incisions to show the many times she was initiated – and the special status that she holds. She is likened to the Male Kadartchitta Man, or Clever Fella, who also is of High degree and is held in great respect by all Tribes. The Woman of High Degree is shown with very full breasts, which denotes that the woman is the main nurturer of the Tribe. She will feed any who needs her nourishment for as long as it is needed. This, again, is a practice of Survival. The Woman of High Degree’s feet are turned outward, which represents that she is the teacher and the keeper of this special Women's Fertility Rites story.
She is saying “Stop, Look, and Listen well! And remember what you are being taught here today by your Elders”. This is what is expected of you as you go through your initiation to become a Woman.
Beside the figure of the Woman of High Degree is another symbolic creature, the Koala. Very special to our Women, we are not allowed to eat the Koala. She is the symbol of great motherhood and how a mother should care for her children. The baby koala hangs from her mother until it is far too heavy to do so any longer. The koala never lets that baby out of her sight. And so it is expected of the new Aboriginal mother to care like this for her offspring.
The last important feature of this site is a large figure of Durramulan (Sacred spirit) shown in his special head-wear, pointing to the very special Sacred Women's site – which his wife (in Emu form) also guards.
By the end of the ceremony, initiates are taken away by the Special Women who are in charge of the initiation and “Put Through”. They then stay with the Special Women for a yea, where they are taught all about marriage and what that entails in our culture. At the end of that year, when the initiate turns 13, they are then given in marriage to the man that has been chosen for them.
As you can see, the Women’s Fertility Rites is a very important time for our young women and an integral part of my people’s culture. The sacred site that has hosted these rites for thousands of years, and witnessed the passage of generations of women before me, must be protected from the threat of mining. It is essential that this Sacred dreaming track and its Songline never gets lost or destroyed. The Sacred history of my people must be preserved.
We, the Elders, still take our daughters and nieces to this Special Women's Fertility Rites site, and even though they may not choose to go through this ceremony today, they show respect for the Women's law, its history, and its ancient ancestry.
Well, we used to take them and visit this Sacred site… until Rocla Sand Mining and the NSW Government decided last year that Aboriginal Women could no longer visit their Sacred Place. THIS UPSET US VERY MUCH, BEING STOPPED FROM VISITING OUR ANCIENT SACRED SITE. It reminded us of the time they took our Languages from us and never let us speak it again for fear of punishment.
The Women’s Fertility Rites Songline and Teaching Place, the carving of ‘The Woman of High Degree’, the Sacred linear stone arrangement, the junction of the 3 Creeks, the figure of Durramulan … the sacred archaeology of this entire area must be preserved, and its Black History respected.
I would appreciate any assistance you can give to help me save this sacred area.

Thanks and regards,
Auntie Beve
Original article-