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How to walk through country
I think it’s pretty important ... that we respect our land and we respect the people coming onto it. And, of course, the people have got to respect ... the people from the land.
Uncle Stan Grant, Wiradjuri Elder, 2014
The Wiradjuri are the people of the three rivers: the Lachlan, the Macquarie and the Murrumbidgee. In the 1830s, colonists claimed vast areas of their country across inland New South Wales.
Surveyor Thomas Mitchell travelled through Wiradjuri country at this time. There was sporadic violence between Mitchell’s party and Wiradjuri people, although Mitchell was helped by his Wiradjuri guides, including John Piper and Turandurey. They often negotiated safe passage for Mitchell and his party and shared their knowledge of country.
In most of our difficulties by flood and field, the intelligence and skill of our sable friends made the ‘white-fellows’ appear rather stupid. They could read traces on the earth, climb trees, or dive into the water, better than the ablest of us.
Thomas Mitchell, Three Expeditions into the Interior of Eastern Australia, vol. II, entry for 3 July 1836
Noted explorer and surveyor Sir Thomas Livingstone Mitchell gave nine Aboriginal objects, including this boomerang, to the British Museum in 1839 and 1848. He acquired them during expeditions into the interior of Australia.
The boomerang may have been the one that inspired Mitchell’s invention of a boomerang-shaped ship’s propeller, trialled in England and Australia in the 1850s.
In 2014 a group of people embarked on a three-day trek, walking through Wiradjuri country from Buckingbong to Birrego, camping along the way. As they walked, they explored Aboriginal and settler histories, including those of frontier violence.
It was a journey of healing for many of the participants, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal.
During the walk, Wiradjuri artist Peter Ingram collaborated with fellow walkers to create this artwork, which tells the story of the journey as each day unfolded.
You can learn more about the journey by reading the free e-book Buckingbong to Birrego: walking into country.