The Lurujarri Dreaming Trail
Walking the Country
The spirit beings of Bugarregarre (the Dreamtime) created all life as we know it. They enabled spirits to take form and gave us the law. This way everything could function in harmony. This law encoded in the Song Cycle has been passed down unbroken since creation. It is our record of history. It is the Law-keepers, Law-people, and custodian's job to keep passing Bugarigaara ceremonies and stories from one generation to the next.
In 1987, Paddy Roe initiated the Lurujarri Heritage Trail as a trigger to encourage the members of the Goolarabooloo community to be walking the Country again, as had always been done; to conserve; renew and stay connected with their heritage and traditional skills and to keep the same alive for generations to come. He also sought to wake up non-Aboriginal people to a relationship with the land; to foster trust; friendship and empathy between the indigenous community and the wider Australian and International communities.
With the dream to share his ancient culture with outsiders - whitefellas - Paddy first invited people to join his family on the trail in 1987. Three years later he was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for his facilitation of cross-cultural understanding.
The Lurujarri Trail follows the land of the traditional Song Cycle. The same camping places are used as have been used for millennia, the same reefs fished. The middens in the dunes are thick with shards of past feed, spear heads, charcoal flint and grinding stones, and testify to how long the Law and Culture has been going on.
The dunes are laced with the bones of the old people who have lived here, fished, sung to the Country, and painted up in its ochres to dance. They have been buried where they passed on, and left to rest in the older camps, that are now left in peace out of respect.
For over 20 years we have been teaching people from all over the world on the Lurujarri Trail. We take you on a journey through part of the song cycle where our ancestors have lived since the beginning of time.
Moving through the Country
Cooking will be on fires and washing in the sea
Our route follows the songline through living country. In walking the trail our ultimate aim is 'to arrive' and to experience 'living country' (we are not conquering a trek!)
For these nine days our group will travel as one big mob - together day and night. We will be moving on foot and stopping at the traditional campsites - usually midden areas on dunes or in the protected shade belts behind. Cooking will be on fires and washing in the sea. Trees become more familiar as we recognise and name in local language. We learn about the trees that offer tucker, are medicinal, good fire wood - to give heat, light or smoke and those that harbour bees, offer shade and protection or tell where water is.
Stories from the Dreamtime (Bugarregarre) come out usually over campfires. Fires are a central point for activity. Fishing at some places or preparing damper will contribute to evening meals.
We will be walking on beach, reef and dunes, through bush, mangroves, and salt plains. (A truck will transport gear between campsites)
The day usually dictates our movement: walk in the cooler hours early and late, or at night, when the moon allows; sit quiet with the heat around midday. Timber can be sought out and cut for carving workshops. Opportunities to participate in the making of Karli (boomerang), coolamon (water bowls) or cumbuk (clapping sticks) may also exist along the trail.
Rain in Walmadan: a traveller's tale
Time and fate fluid like the waves of the sea,
Incessant rain voiced the political turmoil
Over the Kimberely's gas dispute
On the anniversary of Lulu Paddy Roe's death.
We, Lurujarri trailwalkers found ourselves
At the mercy of nature's fury when
The guardian spirits vented their anger
Through the wild, wild wind that shok
Our tent of self-assuredness.
How did it feel when layer upon layer
Of security was torn away from us?
What slim thread for survival
Could our limp, damp fingers clutch onto?
The vicious snake at Kundandu spoke forcefully:
'losing country will lose the home of your soul.'
On top of the sand dunes at Walmadan,
We faced our darkest ocean of place
And time and we were overcome by a sense
Of awe and strangness, our tourist eyes
radically transformed as we sat on the wet swags
realizing what it would be like
to be deprived of everything of substance.
At that moment, I felt nothing but sheer skin
collecting rain of tears, of country.
This poem is by Deborah Ruiz Wall, who walked the Trail in 2010.