In July ten people, including our guide Dave Ella, left Sydney to travel to the far West of NSW on the ACM's Aboriginal Spiritual Pilgrimage.
Over the next nine days we travelled to three of the most sacred sites in NSW inlcuding spending a night in the ancient environment at Lake Mungo. We also visited outback towns and experienced some of the early colonial history. Above all, we found new friends in a group which started out as a bunch of strangers but which ended up bonded through walking country together.
Here are some excerpts from people's reflections and some photos of the trip:
[I]n total we were 10 - from a variety of different cultures, backgrounds and ages but all drawn in the same direction- we were out to connect with the land and ourselves in the way that Aboriginal people had done and for thousands of years and will continue to do for many more. Our yarning circle led by Dave was to become a prominent feature of each day - our hesitant beginning grew to deep and meaningful 'sharings' of our feelings and experiences of each day together. Julie Maakrun
The vastness of flora and fauna as we crossed country was beautiful, yet surprising as we travelled over 360 degrees of flat semi-arid horizon to come across locations of incredible oasis. Our journey through the sacred sites of Aboriginal culture at Mount Grenville, Mutawintji National Park and Lake Mungo connected me through all my senses with the majestic red land, graceful animals, mesmerising changing sky, mysterious spirit and unique culture. Being immersed in the environment, my eyes adjusted to just how alive the country is and its' natural resourcefulness. As we were standing at Mount Grenville Dave Ella said 'anything you can find at Bunnings, you can find here!" Hanne Pedersen
The trip allowed us to not only experience some of the most beautiful and unique environments this country has to offer, but allowed us to experience a contrasted world to what we find here in our daily routines. With such a contrasted lifestyle and surroundings, you would expect to feel out of place and rather confused. This was not the case. The peace and quiet allowed you to engage completely with the world around you and experience with all your senses, something that is too often forgotten when running around trying to accomplish too much in too little time. Scott Walker
What an amazing place Lake Mungo was to be - the 'Walls of China' were akin to a lunar landscape, our Aboriginal guides bought story alive through music, walking across sand dunes and the dry lake bed which was home to Aboriginal people for over 50 000 years, the site of both Mungo man the oldest human remains outside Africa and Mungo woman, the earliest known cremation. We marvelled at ancient footprints, at places where fires would have been lit and food prepared - the way emu was cooked within the ground was in ways similar to what our modern day oven bags do. That night under the gaze of a full moon that darted behind clouds we returned to 'Lunette', bathed in occasional moonlight it took on a totally different feel to that experienced in the afternoon just gone by. A night in the shearer's quarters near the Lake Mungo shearing shed by an open fire and the moon was magical. Julie Maakrun
I started with questions... but I finished with not answers, but greater understanding. I understand in a deeper way that Aboriginal spirituality cannot be separated from the land & that this spirituality was & is connected to their survival, story & life. To be uniquely Australian I feel I need to connect in some way to this Aboriginal spiritual way by visiting these places at least once in a lifetime similar to other religious pilgrims who visit places like Rome or Mecca. Like Jesus, Mohammad or Buddha time spent in the wilderness had a major impact on their spirituality. I believe it is similar for Aboriginal people & the opportunity is there for all Australians.
I have also learned that when connecting with other Aboriginal people I need to speak less, listen more,& ask thoughtfully when I feel a need for deeper understanding.
David Collins-White http://aboriginalspiritualpilgrimage.blogspot.com.au
Our journey through the sacred sites of Aboriginal culture at Mount Grenville, Mutawintji National Park and Lake Mungo connected me through all my senses with the majestic red land, graceful animals, mesmerising changing sky, mysterious spirit and unique culture. Being immersed in the environment, my eyes adjusted to just how alive the country is and its' natural resourcefulness.