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These holidays I was lucky enough to take a trip to Lake Mungo and learn about the land, history and culture of indigenous Australians. When we first arrived I was not quite sure as to what the point of the trip was apart from learning. By the end of the trip I realised learning was, yes a major part but I also was able to find myself at peace with the land and its silent stories. We got to walk on sacred land, hear stories of struggles with identity, invasion and stories of tradition, ceremony and triumph. I was able to learn of ceremonies, hunting methods, the stolen generation, stars and universe, lifestyle and treatment of Indigenous Australians. It wasn’t until I got home that I realised how much I had learnt and how much I had taken in, it helped me to open my eyes to the world around me. It is honestly a true shame that it took me this long to be able to learn the history of the place I call home.
Weeks of thinking and waiting in anticipation of the Lake Mungo Immersion, when the day finally arrived there was so much to learn and many new understandings ahead of us.
After a long bus journey, we finally arrived at Lake Mungo and stepped off the bus into a steamy but dry foreign environment to commence our immersion journey. We began with a Smoking Ceremony, to cleanse our souls of spirits we may have picked up on the way. We walked around the smoke from the special campfire and cleansed ourselves. Next, the Message Sticks were put together, united as one. After dinner we were able to gaze at the abundance stars and then sleep peacefully in our cabins.
The next morning was an early start to get to the ‘Walls of China’ before the heat of the day. Our time there on the sand dunes was very informative and provided us all with an insight into the lives of the Aboriginal people many thousands of years ago. But it also allowed us to reflect and connect to the land.
Even though we had to deal with insufferable heat, we were able to spend pretty calm days journaling. We made our own digging sticks and decorated them using burning rods and we quietly sat together painting, drawing and reminiscing about our time up on the ancient sands of the ‘Walls of Chinas’ and other Yingadi experiences.
As the day came to an end and before the next could begin we were up waiting for the sun to rise, with the sound of clap sticks at the Mungo ‘Lookout’. Colour flooded the sky awakening the world with its beauty. We used our digging sticks to write the names of a loved one on the ground, then we watched the sunrise. We wrote these names in the sand again at the ‘Walls of China’, before we departed from Lake Mungo.
After beginning the day with such a beautiful sight, we relaxed a little again before checking out two different woolsheds. The Woolshed and Shearer’s Quarters were built with no nails and we got to learn a little about their history. At ‘Zanci’, we learned about the propaganda enforced in Australia’s history that hid the horrible treatment and conditions the Aboriginals were subjected to.
At night being able to have the opportunity to witness so many shooting stars was truly something to remember. Sleeping out on the land, under the night sky was the pinnacle of the trip. We all slept out under the stars on our final night at Lake Mungo. We woke up when the Moon was setting in the west and the Sun was rising in the east. The breeze off the dry lake welcomes us into our final day. We packed our mattresses into our cabins and filed onto the bus to say our final farewell to Lake Mungo at the ‘Walls of China’.
Our bus ride to Swan Hill was interesting. Each experience touching. We went to the Aboriginal Cemetery in Balranald and met Auntie Patsy. She blessed us with water. It was a beautiful experience! We then visited The Gallery, where our lunch was amazing and most of the artwork was out of our price range!
We visited Vicki again and shared our experiences from Lake Mungo with her. We were all blessed with red ochre powder at Vicki’s, while the dogs’ barks echoed into the evening.
On our final day of the Yingadi Immersion, we spent the morning with Imparja; a Bora Bora man, who taught us more about Aboriginal Culture. Beginning and ending with the beautiful warm sound of the didgeridoo.
Life for us before Mungo, was life without an appreciation of the land and our heritage. Life after Mungo provides us with a new knowledge and leaves us thinking and wanting more love and forgiveness in this world. Mungo helps to open eyes! Our experience together, allowed us to shape and develop our understandings and knowledge of Australia’s Aboriginal Culture. It allowed us to appreciate and respect the land and to work with Aboriginal people in the future, to reach justice and reconciliation for all.
THE EXPERIENCES DURING THE YINGADI IMMERSION WEEK
VICKI’S STORY – ‘KNOWING HOME’
Connection to the land
For we are one and the same!
Equality for All
Love of Country
Eath is Mother
We are all Equal
WALLS OF CHINA
Ancestors live through the land. Their spirits remain
Past, Present and Future
Elephants and Chinese Soldiers
Unearthing Ancient History
The reality of the country lives in a tragic reality
Heart Breaking and insightful
Painful and very moving
Painful. A man who has overcome great obstacles
The propaganda use to deceive a nation that chose to remain blind and ignorant
Hardship for all involved
Dual Citizenship – Was it?
Don’t believe everything you see!
A hard living reality
Empathy, understanding of perspectives and bias’
Lies V Reality
Connection through relationships between Zanci and Mungo
Interesting, Astonishing and Unreal
Wonderful and Beautiful
Small does not mean weak!
Moving perspective on life
We are small in comparison to the Universe
Realisation of how small I am
Shined a light on the creation of everything. So wonderful and Beautiful.
FAREWELL TO LAKE MUNGO
Beautiful way to connect to the land and say Goodbye
Remembering – Memories
Return – Soon!
Connection to peace and quiet
Opened my mind and changed some perspectives of my life
Felt a connection to the land that I didn’t have at the beginning
Beautiful and sad
Different – Powerful
The governments (white man’s) pathetic attempt at being seen as a person who cares for the Aboriginals (and someone who isn’t like his ancestors). When really, the respect and understanding hasn’t been displayed through the (his) actions,
when organising the cemetery.
Moving but Sad
Different to our normal and also unfair
LAKE MUNGO EXPERIENCE
Inspiring and Beautiful. Able to build a respect for the land
A true understating of the Aboriginal’s bond and connection with the land, as it breeds life.
Land of Spirit
A beautiful way to reflect and put it all into perspective.
Loved Vicki’s talking about her mum, her experiences and her beliefs, and I loved the dogs too.
Vicki is a very influential person
Moving story about Vicki’s Mum and a beautiful way to finish the trip
He made me feel happy that his story is being told. A great learning experience.
Engaging and interesting knowledge
Informative and super interesting. One of the highlights of the Immersion!
A warm fountain of knowledge
Engaging and knowledgeable.
Going into the immersion, we wanted to feel something; we wanted to understand as much as we possibly could. We wanted to develop a deeper connection to the indigenous Australians and to experience the aboriginal culture. We did experience it, but we also experienced and felt much more than anything we thought we would. We found the journey emotionally uplifting and some of the most enjoyable days of our lives. It has taught us so much about ourselves, our spirituality but also about the land of the aboriginal peoples of Australia, and the private and very personal connection that they willingly invited us to experience.
We all have an understanding now, of the Mutthi Mutthi people and some of things they hold dear. Through different aboriginal rituals we took part in the stories we heard. We are so grateful to have been able to meet the four beautiful, inspiring women, who take pride in their culture and heritage.
It’s incredible to think that just five days can change the way someone thinks, feels and speaks about issues that they feel strongly about.
It’s not easy to express what we did on this trip but one thing we can say is that the journey we went on, we will forever remember. We will remember the silent nights, the sunrise and sunset, the star stories, the medicine wheel, our ancestors, the smoking ceremonies, running into the sunset and the moments we spent together as a group.
Leaving Lake Mungo, we have changed, not only our view on aboriginal people, but also what silence can do. The whole trip was so magical and each day we would wake to an almost unearthly sunrise. It was so refreshing and cleansing to experience time away and to take the opportunity to discover the true Australia we should all know.
We feel deeply privileged that we were able to experience Lake Mungo and so grateful for such an incredible and spectacular once in a lifetime experience and an amazing five days. Knowing that the aboriginal people took time to learn our culture, it’s now time to learn theirs. We now have fire in our hearts and stars in our eyes and we will keep building the fire to keep it alight.
This immersion has not only taught us about Aboriginal culture and spirituality, but also so much more about ourselves. We not only gained knowledge from the experiences, we made memories. Memories that we won’t forget and memories that will change lives and perspective about the world. Let’s treasure what has been, what is and what will be through treasuring the indigenous land and culture.